Patti Lorenzi Cowger.jpg

Patti Cowger

It’s been a busy year, and I’ve worked with wonderful old and new clients. If they were ever to meet and compare notes, they would notice 12 common tips I’ve given.

1. When it comes to lighting, there is a rule that the distance between the bottom of a fixture and the top of a dining table or kitchen island should be 30 inches. But like all rules, there are exceptions. If your ceiling is higher than 8 feet, you might want to increase this distance. The size, shape, and quantity of fixtures also come into play. Or, there may be something else, like keeping a window view unobstructed, that may affect your decision. So, start with the 30-inch rule and adjust accordingly.

2. Lighting plays an important role in bathrooms. The best vanity lighting comes from wall sconces mounted approximately 66 inches from the floor and 30 inches apart. This will spread light evenly across your face. I recently followed this guide but added a twist by hanging pendants from the ceiling (and over the vanity). They landed 66 inches from the floor and 30 inches apart, which accomplished the same illuminating goal.

Even with guidelines, the placement of sconces can be tricky. The length of a vanity and whether it has any towers (tall, shallow cabinets that sit on the countertop) affect the size and number of mirrors mounted above. These mirrors, in turn, affect the size and number — and placement — of sconces. If you have definite sconces in mind, you might start with them and work backwards to determine the size and number of mirrors and perhaps, even the length of your vanity.

When sconces are not feasible, wall fixtures above the mirror are usually the next choice. The worst choice, however, is recessed canned lighting above the vanity as it will cast shadows and make grooming tasks difficult.

3. The downside of sconces is that they can create a glare because they are so close to your line of vision. The easy solution is to choose fixtures that diffuse the light with a shade or frosted glass.

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4. As with sconces, great lighting comes from mirrors that have a light source integrated within them. Robern has several options. The look might be too modern for some, but you can compensate with traditional accents and accessories in the rest of the room.

5. Attention should also be paid to a light bulb’s color temperature. It’s measured in kelvins. Cool White or Bright White at 3500k to 4100k, and Daylight at 5000k to 6500k, are the best choices in bathrooms and kitchens. If you’re looking for a warm, yellow glow, choose kelvins under 3500k.

6. I had two problems this year involving paint. Both clients had chosen colors from a particular manufacturer. Although this is a widely-used manufacturer, their painters preferred different sources. The common thought is that any retailer can match any color of any brand. This is simply not true as each brand uses their own bases, colorants, binders, fillers and carriers (the liquid part).

Is it a problem when painters do the ol’ switch-a-roo? No, as long as you don’t care that there won’t be an exact match. (Sometimes your eye cannot tell). Or, painters inform you of their switch ahead of time so that you don’t waste time figuring out what went wrong or running down to the paint store for an adjustment. To sidestep these problems, ask your painter if he is amenable to using your chosen brand. If not, then make your selection using the brand he will accept.

That’s six tips for the first six months of 2018. Six more will be covered next week, the last week of 2018. Stay tuned.

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Patti L Cowger is an award-winning, Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.