DEAR DESIGNER: I have two lighting problems. I want to light a picture in my living room and my dining room chandelier is not centered over my table. How do I accomplish these two tasks and what type of contractor do I call? -- Suzanne.
DEAR SUZANNE: Lighting a wall picture and centering a chandelier will make a multifaceted difference in the ambiance of your rooms. Lighting your picture will direct focus and add emphasis to your art. And, all too often I find dining room chandeliers that could use centering. These subtle changes will help to make your home feel like it is well designed.
The proper way to light a picture hung on the wall is to add a recessed light in your ceiling that shines onto your picture. It takes the help of a skilled general contractor, but it is worth the effort. If you wish to act as your own general, you will need to line up an electrician, a drywall expert and a painter. (If you are lucky, your painter may be skilled in drywall repair, but be certain about his experience as the ceiling texture can be tricky to match.)
There are two parts to purchasing a recessed light: the housing, which is the metal can with electrical wires, and the trim kit, which is what you see on your ceiling.
When purchasing the housing, buy a remodel can. Unlike the lights made for new construction, these remodel cans are slim and can be maneuvered into an existing ceiling through a new hole your licensed electrician will make.
When purchasing a trim kit, look for an adjustable style. If you purchase a trim kit with an eyeball, check to see where the eyeball will project on your wall before you decide where on your ceiling to place it. Surprisingly, some eyeball trim kits don't rotate enough to directly highlight a picture. I've had great results using an adjustable 4-inch, low-voltage trim kit like the one pictured here. It can be pushed up into the ceiling to become a flat light or positioned to any angle needed to shine perfectly onto your picture.
Your electrician will run wires from the new light to your switch. Sometimes he can get away with making only a few drywall holes as he fishes the electrical wire from hole to hole, eliminating the need to trench (a long cut) across the ceiling. Be prepared because sometimes a trench is the only option. Once your electrician has his part finished, it's time to call in the drywall expert.
There is an art to making a patch that is not noticeable and we are lucky to have talented men in Las Vegas who do a terrific job. When your drywall repair man is finished, you'll call in your painter.
If your artwork is framed with glass, the light will reflect off the glass and you may not be able to see the picture. It's a good idea to take your picture to a frame company where it will either transfer the picture to canvas or texture it. You'll no longer need the glass and your artwork will look expensive even if it isn't.
In order to center your dining room chandelier, you will go through much of the same process as installing the picture light. However, this is much easier because there is an existing junction box. The old hole will simply need to be patched, textured and painted.
Lighting is important to the overall feeling of a room. Many times our dining rooms are built with one light fixture, a chandelier. To create a perfect dining atmosphere, first be sure your chandelier is on a dimmer. By adding additional recessed lighting on a separate dimmer, your room's ambiance can be set to perfectly suit any type of dinner party.
Cindy Payne is a certified interior designer with more than 25 years of experience, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, as well as a licensed contractor. E-mail questions to her at deardesigner@projectdesigninteriors .com or send them to her at Project Design Interiors, 2620 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 189, Las Vegas, NV 89109. She can be reached online at www.projectdesign interiors.com.