Custom Interior and Landscaping Lighting Design and Installation

Lighting has the unique ability to reveal the world around us, shaping our vision and determining both the beauty and function of our surroundings. Illumination can sculpt spaces and create an infinite palette of different moods, but it can also render a space flat, harsh and uninviting if not applied with thought, care and knowledge. By working with architects, interior designers, builders to create custom lighting designs and specifications, consistently high quality is assured.

Although architects’ offices, interior designers, and even engineers often layout electrical plans, their areas of responsibility are so broad that most do not have the ability to become truly educated about lighting technologies and lighting design. Additionally many offices will hand off the interior lighting design to a factory representative or showroom that has little knowledge of the client or their needs and will be doing the design and specification based on their own employment alliances and pricing structure. An architect or interior designer that recommends using a lighting consultant is not showing their weakness or lack of knowledge. Rather it’s the other way around – they are recognizing the importance of the project at hand and knowing when to call in the experts so that the job is able to reach its fullest potential!

It’s never really too early to contact a lighting designer, though it can be too late. Ideally a custom home lighting designer should be brought in as a part of the team during Schematic Design. The client, architect and/or interior designer should have the basic layout and design of the project in plan so that the feel, needs, scope, and challenges of the project can be communicated throughout the design team. By being brought in before Design Development continues, the lighting designer will be able to make suggestions about the architecture that may affect or aid the lighting and will also be able to consult in designing lighting control systems. The earlier you bring a lighting consultant in on your design meetings, the more integrated with the architecture the lighting is able to be. The later you bring the consultant in, the more the lighting system will look and act like an afterthought and the more the design will be compromised.

Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc. understands how color, texture, form and shadow can be molded creatively to produce the effect required. This can only be accomplished with the correct equipment and a complete knowledge of lamp types and lamp performance. An Illuminations signature lighting design is a space where every lantern, sconce, chandelier, up light and down light ideally balances a room for its precise intent, including hard-to-light spaces.

Whether you are embarking on a new project or looking to enhance an existing space, one of the most important components to the success of the project is the lighting design. If your goal is energy conservation, setting moods, assuring the function of a space, or implementing a control system, enlisting the services of a professional lighting consultant is a wise and important investment. At Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc., we work with the client early in the project to understand their goals and objectives, simultaneously coordinating with the design team to integrate those ideas into a beautiful and functional design.

Our areas of lighting expertise include residential, commercial, landscape, building facades, and hospitality.

Ceiling Lighting

Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc. is your electrical contractor of choice for home remodels, home additions, and home rewiring. Lighting selection, especially ceiling lighting, is a key consideration when thinking about the nature of the changes you are making in your home.

Ceiling lighting is important to think about early on in the remodel or addition process. Installation of recessed lighting fixtures (e.g. can lights) can quickly improve and modernize the look of a room. Ceiling lighting should be functional, and reflect the personality and taste of the homeowner and the décor. Using compact fluorescent lamps in place of older incandescent lights can result in significant electrical power savings. Use this opportunity to replace or upgrade old switches, outlets, and wiring.

Other ceiling lighting options include indirect lighting, up lighting, cove lighting, and spot lights. Indirect lights can provide a softer, more muted lighting effect, especially in a home office with a white or light-colored ceiling. Cove lighting, perhaps from a low voltage track lighting system, can be used to highlight special architectural features of the inside of your home such as vaulted ceiling details. Spot lights, now available in both incandescent and compact fluorescent versions, work well for highlighting artwork, sculptures, cabinet features, and other special sections of your home. Other lighting types to consider include both horizontal and vertical cable lighting, mono-rail low voltage track lighting, and fiber optics.

Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc. provides free electrical estimates for all home remodeling, repairs, and additions. We are happy to work directly with you, your general contractor, and/or architect, to develop a ceiling lighting plan, power plan, switching plan, and other electrical plans to make your home remodel or addition come out the way you envision it.

Setting the Scene: Put Your Outdoor Living Space in the Best Light

Curb appeal is essential, whether you are selling or buying a home, or giving a warm welcome to friends and family. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), consumers should look for outdoor lighting products in a family of sizes so they can maintain a theme throughout their residence.

“When people are looking to upgrade their outdoor lighting, starting with the front of the house usually helps guide them through the complete outdoor lighting package,” explains Toby Boyd of Philips Professional Luminaires, which manufactures the Philips HADCO Landscape and Hanover Lantern lines. “Remember, when guests visit, the first thing they notice when they arrive is the front of the home – and it’s also the last thing they see when they leave.”

In choosing a new lighting package, size is as important as style and color. As a rule of thumb, if only one fixture is going to be used at the entrance, Boyd recommends it measures one-third the height of the door. If installing two fixtures, make each about one-quarter the size of the door.

However, the key to good illumination is not only the size of the fixture, according to Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design. “Size is most important for aesthetic reasons,” he explains, adding, “Any outdoor lantern should be rated for a minimum of 75 watts of incandescent or 20 watts of compact fluorescent lighting. If there are fixtures on either side of the door, these recommendations would apply to both lanterns.”

Complete your front yard lighting scheme with pathway and area fixtures that illuminate the walkway for safety. “Subtlety is key here,” Boyd emphasizes. “You do not want it to appear as if you are lighting an airport runway. Staggering the lights on each side of the walkway will help accomplish this.”

To maintain the aesthetic, do not opt for the pathway lighting kits from mass merchants. The solar- and LED-powered models sold there might seem like a bargain, but the light output is not adequate.

“Because LED is such a new and developing technology, the lower-cost products also tend to be low quality,” Rey-Barreau explains. “I’d strongly recommend consumers visit a lighting showroom where they can see a wider variety of models and styles plus evaluate the quality of the light.” At many ALA-member lighting showrooms, educated employees can show how the fixture will look in realistic settings.

Boyd agrees. “The rule of thumb differs for the front door compared to the fixtures used to illuminate landscaping around the home. The entryway focuses on style, size and color based on the theme you want to project. When lighting landscape applications, however, seeing what the fixture does at night is more important than seeing the fixture in the light of day,” he says.

Consulting with an ALA-accredited lighting specialist will yield maximum results because they will determine what is most important to you – such as patio, deck or pool area lighting or highlighting landscape features. “Some homeowners want a particular tree, statue or fountain to be the focal point,” Boyd says. A lighting professional will make sure there are ample light levels for every aspect.

Finding the Right Style for Your Home

With backyard “rooms” becoming a common way of extending living space, the lines are blurring between indoor and outdoor styles for furniture and lighting. Similarly, al fresco dining is more popular than ever and the addition of fireplaces and gas heaters has led to year-round enjoyment. As a result, the latest exterior lighting fixtures are designed to complement their interior counterparts, allowing homeowners to create a uniform appearance inside and out.

“As a general trend, cleaner looks are being seen across all styles – not just in contemporary collections,” says James Thomas, senior designer for Progress Lighting, a division of Hubbell, manufacturer of outdoor and landscape fixtures. “Today’s fixtures have less fluting and detail, and highlight more of a simplified style. Many companies are starting to offer versatile fixtures that can be used indoors as well as outdoors. For example, Progress Lighting’s new Parker model can be used with end caps if placed outside, but the top and bottom can be removed for indoor use as a wall sconce.”

Can Energy-Efficient Lighting Look Attractive?

By now many homeowners have replaced at least one incandescent bulb in their homes with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), and some have done the same outside.

“The choices in CFL bulbs today require decisions about shape, color and light output,” Rey-Barreau says. “An outdoor lantern should have no less than 20-watt capacity for a CFL source, but those colors range from a visually warm color to a very visually cold hue. It is best to always choose the warm colors for residential applications because it more closely matches the incandescent lighting in other parts of the house.”

The shape is a major consideration only if the bulb can be seen. If that’s the case, search for a CFL bulb that is in the familiar shape of a typical incandescent (this is referred to as an A-lamp). This type has the same relative efficiencies as the spiral shape, but has a covering over the spiral that makes it resemble an incandescent. You might not find this variety at a home center, but most lighting stores have it.

Additionally, many light fixtures are designed to hide the bulb. “Energy-efficient outdoor fixtures are available in many styles. Manufacturers typically use different glass patterns – such as frosted, antique distressed or seeded – to disguise the outline of the CFL,” Thomas adds. “There are also fixtures that offer more room to fit both a CFL or incandescent bulb, combined with a glass treatment, so consumers can choose which type of light source they want to use.”

If the light cast by CFLs and LEDs is not appealing to you, Thomas suggests using low-voltage halogen systems, daylight sensors and timers, which all provide ways for consumers to reduce energy consumption. “Because these technologies can be used with a variety of fixtures, people still have the flexibility to determine which designs best fit their homes and preferences,” he says.

Call Pacific Coast Electric Heating and Air, Inc. at 408-212-0230