What lighting should I choose?

What lighting should I choose?

By Interior Designer, Jarod Sankar:


We’ve all seen it… you enter a friend’s house, and you’re immediately jolted by the starkness of poor lighting that is anything but welcoming. As an interior designer and an avid believer in the fact that your home kitchen shouldn’t give off the same first impression as a medical-grade janitorial closet, I highly value the importance of lighting. While it may be tempting to buy the first light bulb you see on the shelf, using the correct bulb type and color temperature for your space can be one of the most cost-effective ways to give your home a visual facelift.

First, let’s start with the basics. There are 3 typical light bulbs that are found in residential spaces. When choosing a light bulb to best suit your needs and its environment, it’s important to weigh the facts and limitations of each.


3 Types of Light Bulbs



Whether you see incandescent bulbs as tried and true, or as tired and due for a change, the incandescent light bulb has been around for over a century. Incandescent bulbs are known for giving off a warm light that can make an area feel cozier and more welcoming. 

While incandescent bulbs are good at promoting a comfortable at-home environment, they are also known for a short lifespan and are not energy efficient. Another negative trait that can be attributed to incandescent bulbs is their heat generation, which can be dangerous depending on the fixture it is being used in, or if the bulb is in an area that little fingers could get a hold of.


LED (Light Emitting Diode):

For a lot of people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about LED lighting are the blinding headlights on new cars that pop over hills at night and seem to be aimed directly at you, almost as if they were specifically designed to give oncoming drivers temporary vision impairment. In reality, LED lighting is one of the most versatile and most capable lighting options that is available today. As opposed to Incandescent Lights, LED bulbs come in many different color temperatures, many different shapes and sizes, and have a much longer lifespan. As an additional bonus, LED bulbs are significantly more energy efficient, and are a more sustainable option that creates less waste.


CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp):

CFL, also known as compact fluorescent lamp bulbs, have been dying off in popularity over the last decade. Decades ago, CFL bulbs were once the superior choice due to price and efficiency. CFL bulbs were seen as a more energy efficient option due to their 25% higher energy efficiency compared to incandescent bulbs. However, as LED bulbs have come to the forefront, we now see that LED bulbs are roughly 75% more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, making them the clear winner. CFL bulbs are now harder to find and have minimal options in terms of color temperature and bases. Aside from aesthetics, and more importantly, CFL bulbs contain mercury. While some sources say that the mercury vapors from a broken bulb are not enough to cause harm to humans, it is still not a viable option for keeping a safe environment for you and your family. As of February 2023, CFL bulbs are being banned from production in some regions, which will further reduce the ability to find CFL bulbs on the market.

Color temperature:

Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). The Kelvin scale ranges from 2000K to 7000K, with the warmest light being 2000K and coldest being 7000K. For residential use, a warmer color temperature promotes a less sterile environment, and is associated with more calming energy. Warmer temperature light bulbs, like Warm White, are great for bedrooms due to the relaxing light provided. Cooler bulbs such as Day White or Cool White are associated with a harsher environment, casting a sterile glow that is usually seen as brighter and cleaner. Day and Cool White are more functional in bathrooms and closets. While these bulbs serve a purpose, it’s important to be picky when it comes to color temperature in your home. For example, Cool White bulbs contain more blue light, which can negatively impact your sleeping schedule.

Lighting temperature is a very important factor in relation to your space, as the cool or warm light cast on your walls and furniture may make them appear differently as the sunlight from the day fades. Test out different bulbs in a dark area of your home and see which color temperature works best with your furniture and finishes. Using a consistent color Kelvin throughout your home promotes more continuity throughout the space and can also create less visual discomfort from the difference in brightness and shadows throughout the home.

Examples of difference in light color temperature.

Which bulb is best for me?

With so many bulbs available, now it’s time to narrow down the best option for in-home use. In general, LED lighting is best in terms of its versatility and its energy efficiency. Not only will switching to LED bulbs save money on your electricity bill, but it will also mean less time spent on a ladder trying to reach that awkward bulb in your ceiling. After finding the specific bulb base for your fixture and finding an LED bulb that has the proper wattage according to your fixture specs, look for bulbs with a color temperature of 3000K. This is a warm, bright, and even light that will supplement light in dark areas without being cold and sterile. 3000K is relatively universal, with warm undertones to promote relaxation but enough brightness and less yellow tones to work well in higher traffic areas that may require a more intense light.


In summary:

  • Incandescent bulbs: produce warm light, but they do not last as long and are not energy efficient. There are also limited options of light colors available.
  • LED lights: wide range of light temperatures available, much more energy and cost efficient than incandescent lights.
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL): more energy efficient than incandescent lights, but less efficient than LED lights. Have mercury in them and are being banned.
  • Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale, with the warmest light being 2000K and coldest being 7000K.
  • Warm lighting makes a space feel cozy, relaxed, and well… warm. Cool lighting can be brighter, feel cleaner, and work well in closets and high traffic areas.
The Kitchen is the Heart of the Holidays

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Holidays

During a recent weekend, my family and old friends gathered around my parents’ kitchen and blessed the food for the first Christmas party they have hosted since before the pandemic. My parents’ kitchen has always been more than just a place to feed the body. The conversations and laughter that have been shared while my mom whips up medal-worthy meals and my dad whips up his delicacies, like beanie weenie, are some of my favorite memories from growing up. For as long as I can remember, the kitchen has been the central part of the house I grew up in, and during the holidays the warmth I feel there extends to the many people we welcome in from the cold

Kitchen Addition wide angle

Frank Lloyd Wright believed that the hearth was the psychological center of the home. In the past the hearth was where families would gather around for warmth and cook their meals. But, as times have changed, it has become a bit obsolete as the anchor of the home. Central heating takes care of warmth, and the kitchen is now where meals are prepared and shared with loved ones. Someone, who I am sure was equally as wise as Frank Lloyd Wright, once claimed that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. So, as the location of where we make meals has shifted, so has the path to our hearts. 

kitchen, looking into the living room

Coming home for the holiday season means spending time with family, sharing meals, and catching up on life’s big and little events. The kitchen is often the busiest room in a home and because food is such an important part of familial culture and heritage, the kitchen becomes the most treasured room during the holidays. It is where recipes are passed onto the next generation and family history is made more vibrant amidst delicious smells and tastes. Opening the kitchen to the rest of the home not only increases functionality of the room, but it can also nurture greater interaction among family and friends.

wide-view of open floor plan. kitchen and second floor hill top house

The heart of your home may look very different from mine. We have designed kitchens that double as gathering spaces by using methods like opening them up to other living areas or adding large islands that can still conceal the mess that comes along with holiday cooking. Our work as designers is to ask you specific questions to figure out what would make your kitchen gathering space the dream you have always wanted. From renovation to new construction, we have seen so many different options and know what questions to ask to uncover just the right solution. In the gallery below, you can view a few of the kitchens that we have designed, each for a specific client’s needs.

So, as you gather together this year – if you find yourself thinking, “What if we made this little change?” give us a call to talk about your dream. We would love to help you figure out what is possible and what works best. We would love to help you enhance the heart of your home for future holiday seasons.

Design Strategies to Make Your Kitchen More Functional

Design Strategies to Make Your Kitchen More Functional

Is your kitchen ready for the big day? Thanksgiving is coming.

Turkey Day is upon us and that means some of us will be spending a lot of time in our kitchen. As one who cooks (or heats up in some cases) a traditional Thanksgiving dinner each year, I know how important it is to have an efficient and functional space for cooking. I also know that if your kitchen is cut off from the rest of the house, you can feel isolated while others are cheering for their favorite parade float. Our kitchens are a central hub for activities for our family, so we’re providing some kitchen design tips to make your kitchen the best possible and most functional space it can be for turkey cooking and everyday family time. (Click each image below for a closer look).


Universal design standards say we should have pull out shelves, drawers, multiple height counters, pull down shelving, and places to sit and stand to allow everyone to use your kitchen effectively.


Including composting, recycling, and trash center makes for easy clean up and it can be hidden in pull out cabinets to keep your kitchen looking tidy.


A large walk-in pantry allows you to keep things organized and in one place and for everything to have a place. Don’t settle for a small cabinet solution. If your home can handle it, make a space that works for your way of cooking.


Maximize your storage opportunities, filling in blind corners and “spacers” to put in viable and functional storage options.


Pick the right countertop for your kitchen goals. Click here for the pros and cons of different kitchen countertop materials.



Make sure you have lots of natural light in your working space. You don’t have to have wall cabinets on all the exterior walls, you can use a walk-in pantry for added storage and open up your wall space with large windows.


Add undercabinet lights so you can see what is on the counter while you are working.  Having the ceiling lights in the right place can also add light to your work spaces.


Install a 24” deep cabinet above your refrigerator to gain a little more functional storage space in your kitchen.


Connect your kitchen to the living space so the entire family can gather while one or two people are preparing the meals.

kitchen, looking into the living room
Aging-In-Place Part 2: Misconceptions About Aesthetics

Aging-In-Place Part 2: Misconceptions About Aesthetics

It’s been awhile since we’ve written about Aging-In-Place, but as promised, we bring Part 2 to this series focusing on aesthetic misconceptions about this type of design. (Read Part 1 here). As a reminder, you can hear more about Aging-In-Place Design on the on the WSVA Early Mornings podcast where Charles recently joined Beth Bland of Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS) to talk about Aging in Place.

In the podcast, Beth addresses the common belief that Aging-In-Place modifications/aging friendly design can’t be beautiful or aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception that prevents people from adding these modifications to their homes. We want to break that stereotype. You can make a beautiful house that is also accessible to people with a wide variety of abilities.

This misconception stems both from misinformation and often, a confusion of the terms “ADA compliant design” and Aging-In-Place design.” Here’s a recap from Part 1 in case you missed it.
ADA compliant design vs. Aging-In-Place modifications Recap:

Often ADA design and Aging in Place modifications overlap, but Aging in Place is centered around customizing spaces for you and your abilities. It expands beyond simply meeting the bare minimum requirements of basic building codes to creating something unique and beautiful for your day to day life. This sort of design can be added to your existing home or built into a new one.

Not only is Aging in Place customized around each individual’s physical design needs, but the entire process can be customized around your needs and might include financial, location, and relational considerations.

Beth asks, What things can you do to make aging-in-place modifications in a home look pretty?

Many designs are becoming popular that also happen to be aging friendly. In showers, you can take a tub out and put in a roll-in shower. In the interview, Charles says that he now puts no-step showers into most new houses because “they’re just gorgeous… people love them.” Example pictures below.

Hilltop house roll-in shower

A roll-in shower from #HilltopHouse.

Hilltop house bath and roll-in shower



Bathrooms are particularly important for modifications because water and soap can lead to slip and fall related accidents. For those with balance and mobility challenges, a towel bar that functions also as a grab bar can be installed. (One example here). Sinks can have open space beneath them to allow wheelchairs to slide underneath and give more access to the faucet. A curved front of a sink not only makes a sink more accessible for wheelchairs but gives easier reach for everyone because the sink follows the natural curve of our bodies.

This Modern Home has a beautiful sitting area in their restroom at the vanity (right).

View this custom home portfolio here.

sitting area in the bathroom by the vanity

Detached Garages

Detached garage at Penn Laird
Another example is to have a detached garage (left) that’s connected to the house by a breezeway. This distance from your house keeps chemicals and fumes out that come from your car and things that are often stored in a garage. Air quality is important to everyone, and you can be even more sensitive to poor air quality as you age. A breezeway creates visual interest to a house design and gives space for creative landscaping options. (See left for a beautiful example).


In the kitchen, you can also have a roll-under cabinets, islands, or bars. The space underneath functions dually for stationary chairs and wheelchairs. Counter tops of varying heights make it more accessible for kids, wheelchairs, and any height! Examples of a roll-under island design below. 
roll-under kitchen island
Aging-In-Place modifications can be an expression of your creative style. For example, this home has a unique pull-out spice drawer that’s hidden in it’s design and allows for easy access without overhead reach (pictured left).
Roll-under kitchen island

Grand Doorways and Beyond


These modifications are often a common part of design that you may not even notice unless you were paying attention or it was helping with your specific need. One such example is bigger doorways that allow wheelchairs and every size person to easily get through. Imagine too that you’re carrying a large platter of food for dinner or moving a couch into your home. A wider doorway like the one pictured below accommodates these kinds of common activities too. Aging-In-Place is for everyone.

sliding barn door interior
front doorway

For more information on making a home aging friendly, see these links to a few professionals and experts that are right here in the Valley:

You can listen to the full episode mentioned in the post here: Issues in Aging with Beth Bland of VPAS and Charles Hendricks of The Gaines Group talk about Aging in Place. It’s a short 25 minutes that is definitely worth a listen. #DesignMatters
How the space feels changes everything! #interiordesign

How the space feels changes everything! #interiordesign

We are seeing many more commercial clients exploring #interiordesign to make their customer experience even better these days. This often starts with a space update. How the space “feels” changes everything! The colors, textures, light, furniture, and flooring all tell a story about your business. It has become so challenging to attract customers and even employees to your business and this is another tool you can implement. Give us a call if you want to explore an update that will better tell your businesses story.

This #interiordesign renovation for Weiler Orthodontics was done a few years ago to better convey the personality of the business, make clients feel welcome, and to make the space easier to work in for the employees. We have seen their business evolve with this new look at take on such a fun personality and dominate their field locally.

Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen Countertops

Whether you are trying to tackle a kitchen renovation or building your dream house, the selection process can be daunting. Our interior designer, Maggie, has provided a breakdown of the 7 most common kitchen countertop options available to help make that process a little less overwhelming.

For some time, granite has not only been the leading choice in countertops but is also the first to mind for many with its natural beauty to define any space. Coming in nearly 3,000 different color variations, there is sure to be a style to appeal to everyone – but maybe not to everyone’s budget. While the cost for granite has come down in recent years as the demand increased and more engineered options became available, it is still considered a very expensive material due to the fact it is a natural material and its labor costs.

Granite Pros and Cons

Soapstone is sometimes put into the granite category because it is another natural stone, but it really should be seen as an alternative for all its other wonderful characteristics. Coming in a traditionally dark, even color that can vary from gray, green, blue, and black with a satin finish that accents both historic and modern homes beautifully. It has been growing in popularity because of its flexibility.

Soapstone Pros and Cons

This natural stone is considered more temperamental than its counterparts granite and soapstone due to its porousness and fragility. Once it is scratched or stained, the repairs are difficult. If used in the right locations, such as a baking island, marble can really elevate a kitchen’s luxurious feel.

Marble Pros and Cons

The countertops are usually about 93% quartz particles mixed with resins to create the slabs we are familiar with. Due to this, it can mimic the dramatic veining and other natural occurrences that are loved in marble and granite while also being nonporous and scratch, stain, and heat resistant. The latest trends have included integrated quartz sinks and blending recycled glass particles into the resins.

Quartz Pros and Cons

Solid Surface
Solid Surface is a completely manmade option made from a blend of acrylic particles and resins pressed together into sheets. The appearance can be a deterrent for some because of the lack of elegant veining the natural options provide, but for those that do not mind speckles, they can browse the wide array of colors and patterns solid surface has to offer. Now considered one of the mid-tier options for the countertop solutions expense-wise, solid surface can look great in all kitchens.

Solid Surface Pros and Cons


Also in the manmade category, we have laminates which are plastic-coated synthetics that are easy to clean laminated to a piece of particleboard (MDF). The great thing about the laminate option is that there are literally thousands of colors, patterns, and styles to pick from now that there is a resurgence in demand for the product. It can be found in pre-formed segments that are ready to use or can be custom fabricated. 

Laminates Pros and Cons

Wood or Butcher Block

Coming in several different varieties that provide a warm and cozy connection back to nature, wood countertops can be fairly expensive and potentially problematic from bacteria build-up if not properly maintained. They are relatively easy to clean but must be oiled and sealed regularly. It is another great option as an accent counter such as on an island or used with rustic or farmhouse-themed kitchens. 

Wood Pros and Cons