The renovation of a coastal residence in Massachusetts requires innovative lighting techniques that work in tandem with a generous amount of natural daylight.
Located 15 miles outside of Boston in the seaside community of Swampscott, this remodeling project entailed opening up exterior walls to take advantage of the ocean views. The master bath – one of the most dramatic renovations done in the home – was recently featured in The Boston Globe Magazine.
Nancy Goldstein, a principal at the lighting design firm Light Positive (formerly known as Nancy Goldstein Design) in Marblehead, Mass., handled the lighting plans. A professional affiliate member of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) and a long-time member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), she is also a past President of Designers Lighting Forum New England (DLFNE) and served on the faculties at Brandeis University, Emerson College, and Suffolk University.
To open up the master bath, which formerly had just a small window above a tub, architect Jerusha Hall, of Walter Jacob Architects, knocked out a good portion of the wall to install an incredibly oversized window in front of the vanities. This was no ordinary window. According to the article in the Boston Globe Magazine, it was fabricated by LTI Group – a Pittsfield, Mass-based manufacturer of architectural and decorative glass – weighs approximately700 pounds, is an inch-and-a-quarter thick and “had to be hoisted up to the second-story bathroom by crane.”
The reason there wasn’t a large window in the previous space was the concern for privacy. By specifying LTI’s Smart Glass product, however, the 8’ x 10’ window is transformed from clear to opaque by flipping a switch. This allows the homeowners to enjoy plenty of natural light as well as the ocean view without worrying about the neighbors.
When devising the lighting scheme, Goldstein had to plan for a variety of factors. “I don’t know when the glass would be transparent or frosted,” she explains. Therefore, she had to allot for those times when the room wouldn’t be as bright, whether due to nighttime, an overcast day, or when the window is turned opaque. Having an opal fixture for ambient light was a must, and she deliberately chose an unobtrusive style that would not detract from the view.
For grooming tasks, Goldstein mounted task lighting vertically into the vanity mirrors to surround the face evenly. A square pinspot of halogen above each sink provides additional illumination from another angle. The combination of aqua glass tiles, white porcelain tiles, sculptural Duravit sinks, and zebrawood on the vanities provided visual brightness to the room.
Just as the master bath transformation was the crown jewel on the second floor, the music room downstairs became the centerpiece of the first floor. “The architect told me that the client wanted a decorative lighting fixture that would make a statement over the piano,” Goldstein remarks. She knew just where to go for a custom piece: to the husband-and-wife glassblowing duo of Lisa Spinella and Paulo DeLima at Studio Bel Vetro, which at the time was located nearby but has recently moved to California.
“Each glass globe is [deliberately] a slightly different size,” Goldstein notes. “I like how it looks like pearls and has the texture of a moon,” she adds. Each globe is lamped with a 50-watt halogen. The music room’s 16’-high ceiling and great expanse of glass was another challenge for illumination – especially for nighttime and overcast days. The lighting designer installed Wedge fixtures made by Belfer Lighting around the room. “I put them about 12 feet off the floor to bounce light off of the white ceiling, making it a giant reflector,” Goldstein says. She also installed double-square halogen recessed fixtures from USAI Lighting to serve as the task lighting for reading on the sofa and chairs. “I wanted good reading light, but did not want portable lamps to clutter the room,” she notes. In addition, specifying trimless recessed fixtures contribute to the look of a “quiet ceiling.”
Another attention-getting feature of the music room is the three-dimensional wall art made from a series of concrete tiles. Goldstein specified a Philips Color Kinetics wall grazing fixture and controller to wash the art in various colors. “You can choose to cycle through the colors, or select one and make it static,” she explains, adding, “The kids can literally play music and have a light show going on behind them.”
Not surprisingly, the music room installation won an IES award and is proof that Light Positive’s slogan of “Can you imagine it? We can design it” remains valid.
Photography by Michael J. Lee