From my monthly column in The Denver News -
My house is a North West Denver bungalow from the 1940’s, which is to say that it is a good solid brick frame. In the beginning it had tight, dark hallways and smallish rooms that we remodeled over many years to subtly create a larger space for our family. The space is now more modern, comfortable and better suited to what we needed. The last addition was the second floor, basically an open room slightly partitioned with plenty of windows lighting up the space of the master bedroom. In our nice little house we live with two cats and two dogs, who we naturally adore. Basically this means they have license to run the house. If you have critters, you will have noticed that they plop themselves into any available space on the carpet or the couch, where the sun shines in from the window, even if it is just one ray beaming in. The cats will even lie on each other to squeeze into the light. There they lie, snoozing away, completely indifferent to the fact that they might be a tripping hazard for us humans. A lot of times I look at them in their “blissed” out state and I wish that I had the luxury to lie around like that, following the rays of the plentiful Colorado sun around the house all day long. What a life!
Sun and light makes humans feel good too, not just our privileged animal friends. While researching which way to go for lighting fixtures for a kitchen update, I met up with Nancy Johnson of FABRAY Architectural Lighting. From Nancy I received confirmation about what I think we (and the animals) instinctively know: light not only illuminates a space but can also exalt our moods or make us feel uncomfortable and alternately apprehensive or even totally energize us. I now know that figuring out the logistics of lighting is often left as the last step for builders, even though it is a crucial factor in how we experience well being in our surroundings. Remember how irritated your eyes used to get sitting in the classroom all day for all those years in school? We found out much later of course that it was the effect of cheap and in those days, standard overhead lighting which at least in part contributed to irritation and poor concentration. As a matter of fact, a lot of places that I had previously worked came to mind. The eight hours a day in small, cramped office spaces with garish lighting that seemed to make the mascara on my eyelashes extra heavy and my skin itchy are just a few examples of uninspired lighting design. As I started researching it became obvious that the industry has changed since I came home from school bothered by ‘light pollution’. The creation of new technology geared toward optimizing productivity and comfort by utilizing well thought out space and light design is a focal point in the growing arena of “sustainable living” businesses. Renewed interest in our environment has given rise to new ventures in Denver like FABRAY, located in the redeveloped Row Club area off the Platte. The company specializes in bringing the latest energy efficient developments to their customers while bringing innovative design and affordable budget to the table. Though it might seem minimal even just by tweaking light bulb efficiency (LED’s and CFL’s are better than fluorescent) in the long run money save us money on energy bills.
This brings me back to warm, inviting spaces. Everywhere I looked designers used nature whenever possible. When natural daylight is acknowledged as an integral part of design it follows that you are using the most naturally sustainable element available to you. A good lighting designer will help you with that concept.
I quote Nancy Johnson: “Good lighting design is by far one of the least expensive means to comfort, elegance, delight, and differentiation … all of the things that we crave as human beings.” Judging by the way my beloved pets fight over a little ray of sunshine coming through the window I would agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
For more information on innovative Lighting Design contact Nancy Johnson at 720-443-3134 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt, is a creative entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable living. She currently lives and works in Denver and is a contributing writer for The Denver News