LED Lighting = $avings!

LED Lighting $aves Our Environment While $aving You Money!

Remodeled Vancouver kitchen with LED lighting

LED Lighting in Remodeled Kitchen

LED lighting technology was in its infancy eleven years ago. It wasn’t available when I was working in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s until 2000. California passed laws to help energy conservation, but it was a heavy-handed approach. We did have incandescent filament lamps, but we were forced to use fluorescent lighting as the main source of light in kitchens and bathrooms.

Homeowners objected to this limitation, so we worked around the laws making fluorescent under-cabinet fixtures the main light source in kitchens. The fixtures were controlled by the switch closest to the kitchen door. These fluorescent lamps were small in diameter so the fixtures were short. There were varying lengths of the fluorescent lamps, but we were limited by which lengths were available in either warm white or cool white.  I made the mistake of mixing the lamps on my first project. Warm white looked reddish-orange and cool white looked blue-green. The backsplash in my clients’ kitchen looked like Christmas!

For a while, we could use halogen lamps in recessed and decorative fixtures. They were used because they could be dimmed. But the regulations got Then manufacturers produced fluorescent lamps with standard screw-type bases so they could be used with recessed and decorative fixtures. The EPA told us that CFLs would be the standard to replace incandescent lamps. Reluctantly, the construction industry and homeowners adopted this, but everyone hated the results. Fluorescent lamps were on or off. No dimming. The light was simultaneously flat and harsh.

My, how we’ve come a long way — and the future looks even brighter!

In 2005, LED lighting was available, but there were limitations:

  • Not dimmable.
  • Color was a cool blue-white.
  • Replacement bulbs (lamps) for many fixtures did not exist.
  • Strip and rope lighting was available, but it was very expensive ($40 per foot!).

 

 

LED lighting has improved!

To create the indirect lighting for the entry hall and hallway, dining room, living room, master bedroom, and kitchen in our new home in 2006, my husband had to buy 3,000 individual LEDs and wire them together on “perf” board. Then he connected the finished Light-Emitting-Diode (LED) strips to a dimmable transformer and plugged the transformer into a switched outlet that had been installed in the coffers. It was a lot of work for him, but it saved us thousands of dollars. We got the results we wanted and lit all of those areas with only 100 watts of power, which was reflected in our lowered electric bill. To achieve similar results in 2021, any Homeowner can purchase ready-made dimmable LED strip lighting for a multitude of purposes and a multitude of color ranges:

  • Indirect lighting in trayed/coffered ceilings or on crown molding
  • Task and accent lighting under wall cabinets and countertop overhangs in kitchens
  • Accent display lighting in unlimited applications
  • Safety night lighting in bathroom toekicks and stair edges
  • Increased-visibility lighting in pantries and closets

Comparison of LED lighting to other types of lighting

In addition to LED strip lighting, there’s a wide selection of bulbs available, replace discontinued incandescent and outdated CFL bulbs. The colors, brightness, and dimmability have been improved, to enhance all interior environments. The best news for all of us, though, is that the price of LED lighting has dropped like a rock as the technology has improved and the market has become more competitive. Early incandescent lamp replacements were as high as $50 each. In 2021, we can purchase better LED replacement lamps for as low as $5 each! Here is a chart from Earth Easy that graphically shows how cost-efficient LED lighting is:

Comparison chart for LED, CFL, and Incandescent lighting

There is more technical information available at Wikipedia.

LED Lighting has grown in popularity

Lighting designers understood the benefits that LED lighting would have on the environment. They knew that homeowners and businesses would save money on energy bills. They worked with manufacturers to develop better and varied light sources for residential and commercial use. “DOE estimates there are at least 500 million recessed downlights installed in U.S. homes, and more than 20 million are sold each year,” according to a report by energy.gov.

Armed with all of this information, I hope that you’re inspired to switch (pun intended!) your existing lighting to LEDs.

 

See before and after pictures and a description of the featured kitchen project that successfully used LED lighting.

 “See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference.”

 

© 2016 D. P. Design – All Rights Reserved; Revised 2/2021.

Best Kitchen Lighting Combines Art And Science

What Is The Best Kitchen Lighting For All Your Activities?

West Linn Remodeled Kitchen Lighting

The best kitchen lighting (1/2)

. . .  and why should the best kitchen lighting combine art (the human factor) and science (the technical factor)? To achieve maximum enjoyment and function.

Here’s an example: The homeowners loved their home but disliked the dark kitchen.

  • It was large and had many angles.
  • The windows faced east which meant that the kitchen got dark early in the day.
  • They had to turn on recessed incandescent fixtures that wasted energy and increased their electric bill. Their kitchen was still dark.
  • The speculation builder used dark-stained standard cabinets that absorbed most of the light, limited the layout, and wasted space.

Several contractors said the best solution would be to add onto the kitchen. That would solve the problem with angled walls. But it wouldn’t solve lighting problems unless they went with an all-white kitchen. That’s not what they wanted. No one suggested using LED lighting.

The good news, there was only one addition needed. A 3′ by 3′ area was added to the southeast corner of the eating area. This allowed space for a sliding patio door and it created more wall space for a large picture window. This allowed more light into the room, and the homeowners got a great view of Mt. Hood! They soon became fans of LED illumination. More about this later.
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Remodeled Master Bathroom: Cabinets & Storage #2 Feature

Plumbing Is Necessary, But Bathroom Cabinets Personalize The SpaceRemodeled Tigard master bathroom with new contrasting cabinets provide lots of storage

What are two features that Homeowners request for a master bathroom? The #2 and #3 requests are for more (and better) storage, and an up-to-date look. Bathroom cabinets can satisfy both needs!

What are the features that homeowners request most often? The #1 request is for a large(r) shower.

The remodeled Tigard master bathroom is a great example!

The Homeowners requested a large two-person shower. And they both wanted more storage for:

  • Grooming paraphernalia to be put away when not in use;
  • Towels;
  • A back-up stock of tissue, hair care products, soap, and lotions (Costco overflow).

Making room for a larger lavatory

The existing lavatory area was too narrow, and the adjacent toilet room was wider than it needed to be, so space was borrowed from the toilet room to make the lavatory wider. The additional space allowed the following specialized storage in the bathroom cabinets: (more…)

Two Master Bathroom Sinks Are Desirable

Two Master Bathroom Sinks: A High PriorityNW Portland Remodeled Craftsman Bathroom

The most-often requested feature for new and remodeled master bathrooms is two sinks, followed by:

  1. Large(r) shower
  2. Separate toilet room
  3. More storage

Having two sinks is great, but they have to fit in the space available, which means that the side-by-side concept has to be bypassed if the available space for two sinks is less than 66″ wide. Below are two examples of bathrooms that are 5′ x 10′-3″ and 5′ x 11′-2″.

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Multiple-Cook Family Kitchen Transformation

“Cookie-cutter” Kitchen Had Many Problems That Became a Success Story With A Boot

Tualatin remodeled kitchen peninsulaDo you see a “boot” in the peninsula countertop? That’s what we called the peninsula — the boot — after one of the daughters gave it that name during our design discussions. I’m going to start at the beginning, so you don’t get confused.

Every great kitchen project begins with a “Why?”

Sitting in the kitchen’s adjacent eating area the first week of December, Tom and Elaine told me why they wanted to remodel their kitchen. “It doesn’t work for us.” They are a family of five, with three adult daughters. Two of them were in college, and the youngest would be graduating in six months. The family loved to cook together, but two people couldn’t be working at the same time. They had figured a way to separate the cooking chores and work in shifts. Tom said, “We want the kitchen finished so we can have a big party on July 4th.”

♦ Why do you want to remodel your kitchen? 

There are always problems and challenges!

What were the problems? Do you have similar challenges?

    1. The rectangular island was opposite the refrigerator. The aisleway between them was too narrow for anyone working at the island if someone else opened the refrigerator door.
    2. The refrigerator was too close to the adjacent wall, so it was nearly impossible to remove the chiller drawers.
    3. There was an enormous desk adjacent to a pie-cut shaped “walk-in” pantry.
    4. The kitchen had one sink, located in a corner, which allowed only one person at a time to use it.
    5. The open dishwasher door blocked the sink area, locking the user into a tiny footprint.
    6. White tiles with white grout made keeping the countertops clean.
    7. A single fluorescent fixture was the main source of light.
    8. The step down to the adjacent family room was dangerous because there wasn’t any visual contrast between the two levels. People, including members of the family, had fallen because of the hazard.

The kitchen malfunctioned, and it looked dated, although the house was only 12 years old. Oak cabinets had a finish that had yellowed. Soffits and walls were covered with blue-and-white stripe wallpaper. The off-white vinyl floor had a small tile pattern.

♦ Do you have problems that affect how you use and enjoy your kitchen? What do you want to change?

Decisions require communication: Open, honest discussion and feedback.

They knew the look they wanted, but it was the layout that had them stuck. I prepared five alternate designs for the family to discuss. Two design features required lengthy discussions because the alternatives were outside their comfort zone:

  • Replacing the island with a peninsula. I suggested placing chairs at the end of the aisleway between the island and the refrigerator to help them. They had to live with that for several weeks before they gave me their decision. At the end of the test period, they realized that walking around the island to get to the eating nook was only a problem when someone wanted to get something out of the refrigerator. Other than that, they saw the benefit of a peninsula with all of the recommended features.
  • Replacing the massive desk with accessible pantry cabinets. I showed them the elevation of the pantry wall and gave them the storage calculation. Their decision was speedy. The calculation showed that they’d get 3x the accessible storage with cabinets versus the original cramped pantry.

Every problem has multiple solutions; finding the right solution can be challenging!

Here’s how we solved all of the problems and created a functional and safe kitchen the entire family could use.Tualatin multiple-cook family kitchen before and after

    • We replaced the island with a large peninsula that had a continuous overhang adjacent to the eating nook. At the end of the peninsula, we installed a prep. sink and storage for salad-making vessels and utensils.
      • A downdraft gas cooktop was placed perpendicular to the prep. sink so that the pull-down faucet could be used as a pot filler.
      • This area allowed three people to be working at the same time without obstructing each other.
    • The desk area became a massive pantry with pull-outs and drawers. This area tripled what the family had stored in the original pantry, with better function. A built-in refrigerator was installed across from the prep. sink, with a generous 5-foot aisleway for maximum traffic flow and function.
    • One cabinet in the pantry area was used for a second microwave that could be used for food thawing and preparation, and re-warming food and drinks convenient for the nook area.
    • Deep soffits became an area for additional countertop task lighting. They were also a decorative feature, with crown molding at the top and bottom. The angled soffit above the sink became a decorative focal point because it was wood to match the doors.
    • Carefully-placed dimmable recessed LED fixtures lit aisleways and traffic patterns. Dimmable under-cabinet LED strips provided task lighting for countertops and accent lighting for the backsplashes.
    • Double ovens and a microwave oven became a wonderful baking preparation area, with drawers and rollout shelves in the base cabinets. Vertical tray dividers were installed above the ovens for muffin tins, baking sheets, cooling racks, and cutting boards.
    • A countertop between the peninsula and sink could be used for food preparation and cleanup without creating a “traffic jam.”
    • The new floor was Forest Service Certified, engineered Brazilian cherry. The step had maple nosing, which made it safer because of the color contrast.

♦ Do you get confused about all of your options? Would having options — with reasons — help you?

The family soon discovered how much fun it was to cook meals and get ready for parties together at the same time. It was exactly what they wanted. They fell in love with the new look, too.

    • Cabinets with raised-panel doors gave the kitchen an elegant traditional appearance. The natural alder prevented the kitchen from looking too formal.
    • Granite countertops and shimmering silver slate backsplash were a perfect complementary contrast to all the wood.
    • An angled display cabinet provided a focal point that was visible from the family room.
    • Blue light fixtures chosen by the wife added a unique, fanciful touch to express individuality.

Conclusion

It was wonderful to work through all of the possible solutions with the family. Everyone had an opinion, and it was delightful to see how they interacted to make the best decisions for maximum function and appearance. Fantastic communication made a big difference. The family provided honest feedback and wonderful suggestions. We all had a great time, especially after one of the daughters looked at a proposed plan and named the peninsula “the boot.” They all loved working together in the new kitchen, preparing family meals and getting ready to entertain friends.

If you are stuck trying to figure out your kitchen’s layout and details, whether you need it to function for multiple cooks or not, I’d love to help you!  I offer compassionate creativity that inspires communication. Contact me so we can talk about your specific needs!

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

Accessible Bathrooms: 8 Proven Features For Quality Of Life

Accessible bathrooms help people perform daily health and personal-care needs. Function. What’s the most important feature in a great accessible bathroom? Quality of life! There are required features, of course, but they don’t have to remind the person who needs them is in-valid.  Quality of life (self-esteem) is too often the lowest-priority when homeowners are remodeling an existing bathroom. Other terms used synonymously with accessible design are barrier-free design, aging-in-place design, and lifetime livability. To achieve a functional, safe, and beautiful accessible bathroom, it’s best to hire a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (C.A.P.S.).

Best quality-of-life features in any room include:

  • Occupants’ favorite colors
  • Layered lighting to make the area interesting
  • A mix of tactile and visual textures
  • Background music (may not be appropriate for hard-of-hearing occupants)
  • Natural aromatherapy (lavender is a great one for relaxation)
  • Comfortable temperature (this is achieved in bathrooms with radiant under-floor heating)

Safety Features that Accessible Bathrooms Need:

  • Doors:
    • 32″ wide, minimum.  There are offset hinges to make the net opening of 32″ wide doorways more accessible.
    • Pocket doors are good but have limitations regarding location, and pulls may be hard to grip.
    • 36″ wide doorways are better.
    • Easy-to-grip lever handles.
  • Wheelchairs and walkers:
    • 5′ turning radius (without a lot of “back and forth” maneuvering).
  • Floors:
    • Same level on both sides of a doorway.
    • A slip-resistant hard surface that will allow wheelchairs and walkers to glide effortlessly.
    • No area rugs.
  • Lavatory cabinets, countertops, sinks, and faucets:
    • Open knee well, with recessed drain pipe or wrapped drain pipe to prevent burns and injury.
    • Everything on the countertop and in drawers should be easily accessible from a seated position.
    • The countertop should be at a comfortable height, so wheelchair arms can slide under if desired.
    • Medications organized and marked for easy reading and understanding.
    • The bottom of the sink should be easily reached by someone seated or leaning against a walker.
    • Faucet controls:
      • Easily reachable, side-mount rather than rear-mount.
      • Single-lever control that’s easy to grasp.
  • Showers:
    • Curbless entry with or without a curtain or an easy-to-open door that doesn’t block access.
    • Valves:
      • Accessible from inside and outside the shower, with easy-to-understand and easy-to-operate controls.
      • Anti-scald protection.
    • Adjustable shower on a slide bar.
    • Shower seat, either fixed height or drop-down.
    • Good lighting that doesn’t produce glare.
    • Grab bars are necessary for everyone!
  • Tubs:
    • Whether a standard tub or a walk-in tub, plumbing location is critical because the valve, diverter, and personal shower must be easily accessible to the bather.
    • Standard tub: Entry and exit are important considerations. The tub should have built-in safety grab bars. If possible, the bather should sit on the edge of the tub and swing legs in, then using the grab bars, lower themself into the water.
    • Walk-in tub: New walk-in tubs have become popular. The problem I’ve had with most of them is that the bather has to enter before filling the tub and wait for the tub to drain before exiting. Kohler has introduced a new walk-in tub that eliminates the problem of the bather getting chilled. They offer a walk-in tub with a heated seat.
  • Toilets:
    • Seat 16-1/2″ to 18″ high.
    • Access for side-transfer from a wheelchair is recommended.
    • Wall-mount and/or floor-mount grab bars are very important.
  • Lighting and visual cues:
    • Non-glare, bright lighting is recommended.
    • If there is any visual impairment, it’s important to have contrast in color saturation and texture.

Excellent Resources for Accessible Bathrooms and Other Rooms:

The bathroom featured in today’s tip was a powder room in the 1970s two-story home. Three bedrooms and two full bathrooms were on the second floor. The Homeowners realized the importance of having an alternate bedroom and an accessible bathroom for emergencies on the main floor. To create the roll-in curbless shower, they were willing to abandon a hallway that led from the front door to the kitchen. Their top priority for the bathroom, in addition to accessibility, was a bathroom that didn’t scream, “You’re disabled!” Their bathroom whispers, “I’m here for you,” because it was designed for accessibility and quality of life.

“See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference.”

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ, Principal of D. P. Design

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate and Aging-in-Place Specialist who specializes in helping homeowners with home remodeling additions. She also designs new homes. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

Contact Diane today to talk about your remodeling needs and goals. Sign up to receive her newsletter that has valuable information about home remodeling and quality of life.