Sunday, June 26, 2011

Design - Lighting

Lighting design is one of those jobs that can easily fall off the bottom of your “things to do before Pre-Start” list.

Typically, builders install a batten in the centre of each room. In the case of bedrooms, this would be ok, however in a larger room like a kitchen or living area, this is not always sufficient.

Current lighting trends lean towards the installation of down-lights, which are not compatible with the “single light installed in the centre of the room” pattern of light fittings specified as standard by your builder.

Wall lights are not compatible with the builder-standard pattern either. It is equally important, if not more important, to decide whether you wish to use this style of lighting, because the wall will never look the same once it has been patched.

Pendants, oyster and fluorescent lights, however, are compatible with the builder-standard pattern and should not require you to patch old holes in your ceiling.

The last thing we want to do in our new home is patch the ceilings and walls. This placed lighting design at the top of “things to do before Pre-Start” list.

When it came to lighting design, I was definitely in the dark.

I took the time to visit a couple of local lighting stores looking for advice and recommendations on where to position each light and what type of light to use. The advice I received was very good, but the designs I found lacking.

Generic Lighting Design

Tip: Before you start on your lighting design, make sure you determine the primary function for each room and the location of your furniture. For example, if you are converting one of your bedrooms into a study, you may require focused task lighting, or put a decorative pendant above your dining room table. 

What I did not like the generic lighting designs I received, was the "one size fits all" feel about it. Using a template to mark lighting positions is fair enough in square rooms, but for passageways and rooms that require task lighting (e.g. kitchen), I felt this approach was lacking.

On a whim, I decided to visit HS Reflections. If you want a lighting design done by HS Reflections, you will generally need to book a consultation in advance (they are open late on Thursday). The consultation takes approximately one hour, significantly longer than those I had done previously.

The consultation has two distinct stages. The first stage is design and requirements. Here you will sit with your consultant and go through each room individually to determine its primary function and style.

The first stage took approximately thirty minutes to complete. We started at the front of the house, worked our way inside, and finished at the alfresco. I really appreciated all the extra information and advice that Paley offered, for example:
  • making a note to see whether the builder is able to relocate or reposition some of our downpipes to make room for the wall mounted exterior lights;
  • combining exhaust fans and lights into a single unit, so that the WC and Powder Room ceilings would be neater;
  • grouping down-lights in the alfresco area to create individual areas for BBQ/cooking, eating, and relaxing; and,
  • choosing the correct colour of light to suit the primary function of the room. For example, white light in the study/gym to reduce eyestrain, whilst using traditional yellow light in the bedrooms to promote relaxation.

Lighting design produced by HS Reflections

The second stage is choosing fittings from the showroom so that the consultant is able to provide an accurate quotation. The consultant guides you through the showroom, offering suggestions and providing information about the products as you go. What I found unique about this show room was that you are able to turn on/off every light. If you have visited the show room before, or have a good understanding of the style of fittings you wish to purchase, this stage can be over in fifteen-twenty minutes.

Depending on the size of the job and/or how busy they are, it can take about three days to receive your quote. Unlike other quotations, HS Reflections itemises everything by room. I found this extremely useful, especially if you have to add, remove or change something – due to the way our picture recesses are constructed, we had to remove the starlights we had planned.

For a free service, I was amazed at the level of detail and the time spent creating the design for our home. I definitely recommend visiting HS Reflections for a lighting consultation. You will learn a lot and their prices are very reasonable.

A funny thing I will mention is the comment from our Pre-Start consultant when I pulled out the lighting design, "Oh, you've been to that place." Indeed, I have.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Milestone: Land Settlement

After a few hiccups with the ash cloud causing delays with our bank being ready for settlement (nearly 1 week overdue) and fears of late fees, our block has finally settled!

Late 2010, we secured a lovely little 17 x 32 metre (560 square metres) block of land in a new estate north of Perth. It seems small compared to 800+ square metres on which I grew up. Apparently, there will be some parks nearby with walking and cycle paths, so the dogs should not be too upset with having a smaller backyard if they get to go explore these paths daily.

House wise, this block is a reasonable size. It would have been nice if it was 18 meters wide, but 17 meters will do. It does not leave much space up the sides of the house. At the narrowest, there is 1.2 meters to the fence. I hope that it will not be too narrow a space to install a gate through which I can wheel the rubbish bins.

Our block showing the proposed position of the house

A month ago, we visited out to the site to take a few happy snaps of our block to be. We were pleased to see that we have a reasonably clear frontage, apart from a public footpath. Our neighbours, to the left and right, each have a storm drain.

Front view: The bushland you can see behind, I believe, is going to be part of a park.

Side view: You can see how the blocks are stepped; it should add some character to the street.

I cannot wait to taking photos of our house as it is being built.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Inspiration -

"It took nearly six hours to go through all of the "little" changes"

I blame I have lost count of the number of hours days that I have spent browsing their website.

Our friends and family have given us a lot of advice. Generally, this advice was standard and easy to accommodate: "put your power points on internal walls", "if you are installing down lights, get the builder to install junction boxes so that you don't have to patch your ceiling", etc.

It was our friend Hewie, who managed to cause the sleepless nights: "Whatever you do, get the bathroom right. It’s very expensive to change if you decide you don’t like it".

Did you know that Houzz's bathroom photo section has approximately 2050 images? Lucky for us, one image solved all of our problems (I will blog about this separately).

Bathroom images are just the tip of the iceberg that is Houzz. There are sections for bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, dining rooms, entry halls, kitchens, landscapes, laundries, media/theatres, patios, pools, etc.

Once you have gotten past the photo section, there is the "Idea Book" section. Idea Books are a collection of images and text that you create using images from the photo section.

Some of the Idea Books created by other members are simply stunning, especially those advertised on the Houzz main page. For example, 15 Ways a Mirror Can Light Up Your Morning, which shows how you can use different types of mirrors to create different looks in your bathroom.

I love Houzz, I really do. No matter how big, or small, your project, I am sure you will find inspiration, even if it is just to answer the question of whether you want a light coloured floor in the main area, or a dark one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Here we go .....

Welcome! At the beginning of this year, we put a deposit on a lovely 560 square metres of blank canvas upon which to build our new home.

So far, it has been a wonderful, yet stressful experience. I have learned so much and still have so much to learn. I hope that I will be able to use this blog to share some of that with you.

The design we have chosen is based on the Rendezvous, by Ventura Homes. We walked through so many display homes, looked at every online house plan offered by every affordable builder in our state and it was the Rendezvous that "Wowed" us. The house seems normal until you walk into the living area and the whole rear of the house opens up in front of you. I am really looking forward to hosting dinner parties in this huge area.

We have made a few changes; the most substantial was the extension to the alfresco area and remodelling of the bathroom, ensuite and powder room. Its amazing how one little change can cause so many knock-on-effects. For example, if you change from semi recessed basins to counter top, you may need to increase the depth of your vanity, move the taps to wall and add a splash back (as opposed to extending the mirror to the counter top - I love this look). It is all simple stuff, just a lot to think about.

We had pre-start last week. Wow, is all I can say. It took nearly six hours to go through all of the "little" changes we wanted to make. If anyone reading this is about to go to pre-start, I have some advice:
  • Write down every change you want to make/enquire about prior to your meeting and tick them off as you go. It is amazing how easy it is to start to forget things, or think that they don't matter when you have been sitting there for 4+ hours;
  • Make sure you get a good night's sleep, and if it helps, take pictures with you, especially if you are doing something a bit "out of the norm";
  • If you are supplying your own basins, tap ware, appliances etc, where possible bring a technical drawing to your meeting, as it is likely that they will ask for it. For more obscure items, you might want to provide an installation guide as well; and,
  • Make sure you ask for copies of everything! I can almost guarantee that you will wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if you remembered to add all of the power points.
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