Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Plan Your Kitchen Lighting During Renovation

Kitchen Lighting: Just As Important as Appliances and Cabinets

There are plenty of options when it comes to lighting your kitchen: recessed lighting, under-cabinet lighting, chandeliers, pendants, task lighting, halogen lighting, etc.

You will hear all these terms and more once you begin discussing the lighting part of your kitchen renovation project. In fact, there are so many options that it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices.

Customize Your Kitchen Lighting to Your Needs

The good news is that all the options just mean you can choose lighting that is customized for your needs. You can devise a plan with a combination of lighting options that will fit the way you and your family use your kitchen. The key is to carefully figure out from the outset what kind of lighting you will need in your kitchen because appropriate lighting is just as important as cabinets and appliances in order for you to get the most enjoyment out of your kitchen.

Most likely, you will choose a combination of three types of lighting: task lighting (for example, additional lighting shining directly on your food prep area), ambient lighting (the main source of light), and accent lighting.

How Do You Use Your Kitchen on a Daily Basis?

Begin by thinking about how you use your kitchen on a daily basis. You will want to consider how much natural light is available in your kitchen and whether you may need artificial lighting during the day.

Draw a map, preferably on grid paper, of your kitchen and its major components, such as cabinets, appliances and any other furniture in the room. Once you have completed this drawing, think about each separate area (ie. island, informal dining area, etc) and how much task lighting you need in each area individually or whether ambient lighting will be enough to meet your needs.

Explore Your Lighting Options

Once you have defined your lighting needs, you are ready to begin exploring some options.

For ambient lighting, you will want to consider putting in a dimmer to control the brightness of the overall lighting in the room, particularly if you eat a lot in your kitchen. This will allow you to set a more tranquil tone in your kitchen when you’re eating to avoid a cafeteria-like atmosphere, or simply to save energy if you don’t need full lighting at all times.

Hard-working Lighting That is Also Decorative

Task lighting is where you want to make sure you have bright light when you need it, such as in the food prep area, sink area and perhaps a desk area if you have one.

Your accent lighting will be important not just as a decorative element, but to avoid having shadows in certain areas of your kitchen. You can choose hard-wire sconces, plug-in sconces or swing-arm lamps.

In our next post, we’ll discuss the various types of lighting that are available today and some of the latest lighting trends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Zillow Features Renovation Projects With Cost Breakdown

You Can Research Projects Based on Your Budget

One of our last posts provided guidance on how to figure out the cost of your renovation project. As you might know, you have to spend some time doing research to figure out a good ballpark figure for your specific project.

But let’s say you’re just in the beginning stage and you’ve only begun looking at inspiration photos on Pinterest, blogs and magazines. How do you figure, at a glance, whether the project you’re drooling over is even within your reach?

Zillow Digs Showcases Projects Nationwide

You could try Zillow Digs, a feature of online real estate network, best known for providing estimates of home values and other market data.

Zillow Digs is an online community of home design images and inspiration. Sure, there are many such resources these days, but few provide cost data to better guide consumers considering their own renovation projects.

Many Featured Projects Include Cost Breakdown

For example, the photo above shows a bathroom project that is estimated to cost about $16,800, which includes nearly $11,000 in materials and $6,000 in labor for a project in the Los Angeles area. The estimate is said to range from $11,900 to $23,700 to allow for regional adjustments and other variables. A handy list further breaks down costs so you can easily see how much each component costs, such as demolition, countertops or a toilet.

The website allows you to filter your search of images by the type of space (bathroom, kitchen, living room, garage, patio, etc.), cost (budget, mid-range, luxury), style (cottage, traditional, contemporary, etc.) and color. The cost estimate is not included in each featured space, but you can filter your Digs by using the cost filter to ensure you're looking at projects that fit your budget.

The other filters allow you to easily customize the Digs you’re viewing to narrow your search down to your specific project or area of interest.

Website is Easily Customized

The website makes it easy to collect images, share your favorites with others and research project costs. You are also able to cross-reference your images in a variety of ways. For example, many images are contained within users' image boards (similar to Pinterest boards), which allow you to find similar inspiration in other people's boards.

Zillow Digs is also available as an iPad app here if you prefer to do your browsing on a mobile device.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you want an accurate estimate of a home renovation project, your best bet is to contact a contractor. At Unique Properties, we’re always happy to provide you with a project estimate. P