Kitchen Lighting: Kitchen Masterpiece

 When the owner of a kitchen & bath shop turned his kitchen into a showpiece, he gave carte blanche to the lighting designer.

Kitchen Masterpiece by Ray Lighting + Design Studios in Hartford, Ct

There was only one lighting idea that the client of Ray Christensen, CLC, of Ray Lighting + Design Studios in Hartford, Ct., didn’t go for. “I wanted to add a floor-activated LED light in the front sink wall,” Christensen explains. “You would walk up to the sink and – with your foot – turn on a light in the sink to light that space. It was really neat, but he didn’t go for it.”

Other than nixing that one concept, Christensen had free reign with the lighting design for the kitchen that belongs to the owner of Gilley Kitchen + Bath, who wanted to transform this all-important room in his Farmington home into a dream kitchen.  While a project where budget is not an issue sounds like a walk in the park, it was not stress-free. “The biggest challenge was working with the many textures and designs that the client had already specified which made the kitchen busy,” Christensen explains. “I had to really play off those in a big way since the kitchen did not need another pattern or color added to it.  I also had to keep things low profile so as not to interfere with the view.”

The house itself is unusual. Circa 1970s, this residence is comprised of three octagons decorated with a cool, contemporary design vibe. Fortunately the client was well-aware of the benefits and versatility of creating layers of light and how improper lighting techniques could cause glare. This is just one of the reasons he trusted the expertise of a certified lighting designer (CLC) with a reputation for creativity and quality.

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“Since the renovation had already been underway, I went to the site and looked at the kitchen after demolition,” he remarks. By observing the bones of the house plus the client’s plans for the other design elements and appliance choices, Christensen had a basis for inspiration. “The client also gave me samples of the materials that would be in place, and I used those to select the lighting so that everything coordinated,” he notes.

One of those challenges was a three-sided wall with a soffit. “The kitchen needed task lighting so we specified a suspended cable system,” he comments. This was easier said than done. “We had to go right through the hood vent to make it work. Then we used the new Ibis LED monorail heads from Tech Lighting, but suspended it from the cable instead,” Christensen explains. “The Ibis fit the scheme perfectly because the style is high-tech and rectangular and made the glass backsplash around the range top super-dramatic. The windows around the sink have an amazing view of the Farmington Valley and these fixtures are so low profile that they do not block any of it.”

Christensen is proud of the lighting solution he devised. “I think incorporating the rail and cable was unique, but because of the layout they worked together and did not compete. That was the hard part: How to illuminate the counters with no recessed lights (soffit only) and make the LED rail the focal point. The low-profile LED heads really made the cable disappear,” he enthuses.

This kitchen has several areas of interest. To accommodate what the client refers to as the “red banana” is the bar, where Christensen bent the monorail to follow that same bend. The rail is from LBL Lighting and has red LED fiber optic in the center.
Another focal point is the pendant hanging above the round, walnut wood butcher block table. “I purchased designer metallic fabric and had a custom shade made that was turned into a pendant. It complements the glass backsplash and taupe colors of the rest of the kitchen,” Christensen notes.

Adding to the sophisticated subtlety, are the mosaic glass pendants from Edge Lighting. “The color blends with the surrounding taupes and is very much like the countertop, which has bits of crushed glass in it,” he explains. Around the kick space of the island is LED lighting – operated by a hidden air switch on the island top – and three LED miniature recessed puck lights illuminating the pass- through to the adjacent dining room.

Christensen’s favorite parts of this project, which was completed last month, the custom touches, such as the cable with the Ibis heads through the vent, the LED rail, finding the perfect coloration of mosaic pendants, and creating the giant fabric shade.

The client was just as pleased. His reaction? “Dude, this is awesome!”

For more information on kitchen and bath trends please see our article: Ferguson: An Interview with Sharon Helbert & Sam Rose

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