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Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of sipping a Starbucks pumpkin spice soy latte while chatting with my favorite local lighting expert Marcia (that’s MAR-see-uh) Exelrud .  (Click here for previous guest post by Marcia.) As we discussed how to save the world from poor kitchen design and bad lighting , I asked her to come up with  a list of the TOP 5 Lighting Fixes for your kitchen. Here’s what she had to say:

Matching white trim blends recessed light fixtures into this crisp white kitchen ceiling. Photo by Apartmenttherapy

1. Replace trims and bulbs in existing recessed fixtures. New trim will give you a fresh updated look.  Replace bulbs so that they are all the same type for uniform and even lighting. Remember that the most up to date fixtures and bulbs will usually also be more energy efficient.  The initial investment is greater but they more than pay for themselves and save you time and aggravation in the long run.

2. Move or add fixtures to add direct light where you need it. Take a moment to study your kitchen both during the day and at night with the lights on.  Does your current arrangement work or do you need to make some changes?

Note pendant fixtures over island, cove lighting above cabinets and lights below upper cabinets. Photo by Apartmenttherapy

3.  Add cove lighting with an LED or xenon strip light fixture. Do you have space above your cabinets?  This is a perfect opportunity for cove lighting.  LED or Xenon strips are perfect for this area.

This kitchen has good "bones" i.e. storage and counter space. The plastic covered fluorecents need to go. New cabinets (or just a reface) and tops will give this kitchen a totally updated look. Photo by picdigger

4. Remove unsightly dropped ceilings.   You know what I’m talking about, those plastic squares set into a metal grid concealing fluorescent tubes.  Yeah that’s them.  Remove them and you instantly create an open feeling!  Replace those tube lights with some recessed high hats for better light. Welcome to 2010!  A word of caution, if you have a concrete ceiling you may have to lower it just enough to recess lights.  If that’s not in the budget consider a surface mounted fixture.

Recessed lights provide main lighting. Red pendants add task lighting over the island and a punch of red in this black and white kitchen. Photo by Apartmenttherapy

5. Install lighting under the upper cabinets and above islands.. Never install open fixtures such as pendants, spot lights or recessed lights witout lenses directly over cooking areas.

If you have questions about any type of lighting you can contact Marcia at

You can also find her listed under LOCAL RESOURCES  at Kitchens for Living



I live in a hectic family household  but Sundays are sacred.  Joe is off at work and kids sleep late, sometimes really late.  That is when I am blessedly alone.  That is when my spirit flies.  I catch up with all the blogs I haven’t been able to read during the busy week, maybe I do a little art and I dream.  Despite all my financial responsibilities,  my parenting realities and my work I get into a place where, for a moment,  I think just because I’m alive I can do ANYTHING.  Here are some things I become capable of on Sunday morning:

1. Going back to India to take up where I left off.

Glo in India 2001

2. Buy and decorate a hip Mid-Century modern apartment in Miami

My MCE Dream, Courtesy of Apartmenttherapy

3.Become a full time artist exploring and developing my many ideas and musings at my leisure. This is one of my collages.  If you want to see more visit

This is Hope

4. Go back to California to study more art

Glo at Encaustic Workshop in Carmel Ca. 2008

Ok, you get the picture.  When you want to create or remodel your own kitchen or design a kitchen for a client this is a very good space to be in.  Get in the mood and the ideas will come.  This is truly the first step in the Intuitive Kitchen process. When you have returned to earth you can edit.  Trust me it works.  Now tell me, don’t be shy (that’s counter intuitive). How do you get in the zone?


Add Wearstler Hollywood Kitchen Design Appeal

Mixed Materials are featured in this design by Wearstler’s protoge Lara Fishman
Did you happen to catch this morning’s CBS Morning story on Hollywood designer Kelly Wearstler? She is described as the “new Dorothy Draper“, the original Hollywood Design Diva.   Wearstler sports a theatric edgy personal style that flows into her work as an interior designer. There it is again, fashion informing design and vice versa.  Wearstler shared 6 tips on kitchen design with Food & Wine magazine.
A kitchen carved in stone by Kelly Wearstler
Be bold with white.  Yes, she is partial to the cooler sleeker finishes such as stone, marble and stainless steel.  White works with these materials to create a clean open sensibility.  Plus, let’s face it, for those of us in Florida, white will always have a place.  Play with color and pattern. This is a great way to personalize your space and make it your own.  How about a punch of red with that white?  Open up cabinets.  Open book cases and glass doors are a great way to break up what can be a monotony of cabinet doors.  Consider using mirrored glass for a Hollywood look.  
Mixed materials, glass doors and chandelier light fixture in Gwenyth Paltrow’s kitchen by Kelly Wearstler
Mix materials.  I’m often asked if it’s OK to mix materials in the kitchen.  The answer is yes!  My advice is to include one unifying element such as color or texture.  Use pendant lighting.  If you’re up for the drama, this lighting option is the way to go, just like jewelry for the kitchen. Gotta have a chandelier, daaahling!  Last but not least, hide those paper towels.  They are a glamor killer.   
Paper towel solution is handy and hidden


How do you add drama to your kitchen?
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