Seeing is believing
Lighting takes center stage as essential, unifying element in home design
Story by Joe Morris. Photography by Allison Elefante
A lot must come together to create the perfect living space. Whether it’s a renovation or new-home build, attention must be paid to everything from layout to landscaping. One common factor in every room, as well as the exterior, is lighting.
In the past, that has often meant floodlights out front (on timers or motion detectors, if you’re feeling fancy) and a mix of ceiling fixtures — maybe some track lighting, a couple of recessed cans and a table lamp here and there for a splash of color. No more.
Now lighting offers a way to customize each space, and that’s more than different types of bulbs and the ability to automate on/off capabilities. Designers work with architects, builders and homeowners up front to create lighting palettes that augment the home’s design in both clear and subtle ways. The result is a property that is worth seeing in every sense of the word.
“When we get involved with a designer or builder, we’ll typically start with the architectural lighting, everything inside the ceilings to LED tape and under-cabinet, and then move to the decorating lighting phases,” explains Gena Dorminey, business development specialist with Circa Lighting, which was founded by Gale Singer in 1998 to change the way lighting was sold. The business is now becoming Visual Comfort & Co. as he and brother Andy Singer unify their companies.
Working with a full-service provider has many benefits, not least of which is having someone with strong experience in lighting on hand for live and virtual meetings to discuss options.
“We are a full-service provider, so it’s not just shopping online or placing an order. We meet with everyone in our showroom to walk through selections and guide them through the process,” Dorminey says. “We’re not just out to sell lights to you — we want to be there from the project’s beginning to its end. We often get involved before people break ground, and we can do very detailed programs that include many different types of lighting to meet specifications. From lighting and bulbs to warehousing, we can provide it all.”
Creating a unifying theme, not a cookie-cutter template
Circa’s ability to provide turnkey services is why interior designer Aimee L. Kinssies has collaborated with them on 10 homes and counting. As she works to give interiors a unique look, preferably ones she hasn’t used before, she says having lots of options is essential.
“The quality, the unique looks and all the designer collections they have is a huge plus for me,” Kinssies says. “The way they work with designers is amazing, from dropping in some specs on the website and getting options to going into the showroom and seeing what those look like. It’s very easy to source from them.”
She recently teamed with Circa and Leverick Homes, a Nashville-area team that has been designing, renovating and building homes since 2012, on a new property that’s coming to market. She worked with Burton Electric on the installation.
“This house is a combination of modern and timeless fixtures, because I wanted them to feel proportionate to the rooms they are in,” she says. “I wanted to mix different finishes, from matte black to brass, elements that are my go-to’s but also create a lot of interest. Lighting is the jewelry of the house, and so it’s important that it be interesting as well as functional. People hire a designer for a reason, and that’s because whether it’s a builder or homeowner, they want a unique look.”
Leverick Homes co-owner Ali Daher agrees, adding that “We don’t just grab lighting off the shelf at Home Depot. We work with a lot of people who are artists at what they do, and that’s why each of our homes is unique.”
Daher also agrees with Kinssies on the notion of lighting as jewelry, or “bling.”
“Each individual room needs lighting that ties into the space, and creates the right mix of light and shadow,” he says. “It needs to be right for the room, not just stuck in there so people can see their way around.”
Kinssies describes this most recent Leverick collaboration, which is a custom-built spec home, as an opportunity to work with the entire development team to create a space for a specific buyer in mind. In this case, she says, most likely professionals from their 30s to 50s who are after that mix of classical and more modern. Chances are, those buyers will like what they see, Circa’s Dorminey says.
“Aimee strived to create a universally modern feel and also brought in lots of Old World charm,” she says. “’The space feels very European, very inhabited by someone who’s not super-traditional, but also not super-contemporary or modern either. It’s a great mix of fixtures.”