Lighting: Vaulted ceilings, 'light shelves' help illuminate an interior

Nothing transforms more than the power of light. The interior of this late 1960s-style split-level was dark and dated with 8-foot ceilings and a cramped kitchen. It presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Here's how this remodeling firm handled the challenge.

March 31, 2004

 

Nothing transforms more than the power of light. The interior of this late 1960s-style split-level was dark and dated with 8-foot ceilings and a cramped kitchen. It presented both a challenge and an opportunity.

"When we came on the scene at the onset of the project," says architect Michael Klement, "the clients' design criteria completely centered around more light, more light, more light." The result was "a dramatic change to the midlevel of the house," where the main living areas are.

 

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The key to adding light and space was to take off a section of roof, add 200 square feet to the rear of the home and vault the ceilings in the kitchen, dining room and living room, adding volume and light. "The interior design opened up by installing 11-foot walls on the rear elevation," Klement says. Skylights, transom windows and oversize casement and picture windows help maximize natural light throughout what is now a 4,257-square-foot home. Ceilings range from 11 feet in the kitchen and dining spaces to 8 feet in the front living area.

Klement used recessed lighting fixtures "everywhere we could to get light where you need it and to view the light, not the source." On the upper level, where the bedrooms are, a combination of recessed light fixtures and tubular skylights opened the long hallway and brought soft light into the interior.

The kitchen/breakfast area, which grew from 260 to 409 square feet, now includes an island with second sink, a built-in desk and furniture-look cabinetry. "Light shelves" at the top of the cabinets illuminate the space both day and night. Remodeler Bruce Curtis disguised the uplighting fixtures on the shelves with crown molding around the cabinets and along the top of the walls. During the day, translucent lenses on the top of the ledges bounce the light from the windows up, "creating an ambience of reflected natural light," Klement says. Three tubes of fluorescent lighting, also on the top of the ledges, can be controlled individually to create a look of soft light or cool bluer light. Transom windows above new French doors and cabinets help increase natural light and accentuate volume. Maple cabinets and flooring also provide a warm, light feeling in the kitchen.

Appliances: KitchenAid, Sub-Zero, Whirlpool Cabinetry: Hampshire Hardwood flooring: Bruce Home controls: Leviton Lighting fixtures: Alko, Lightolier Sinks: DuPont Corian, Kohler Windows, doors: Pella

Remodeler: Washtenaw Woodwrights Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.

Architect: Architectural Resource LLC, Ann Arbor

Project location: Ann Arbor

Age of home: 35-40 years

Scope of project: lifting ceilings and roof; master suite remodel; kitchen, dining and living area remodel and addition; remodeled front and rear entranceways

Best of the Midwest Design Awards

Silver Award Whole house over $250,000

Bronze Award Kitchen over $60,000

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