BY DALE BURG
If you’ve seen how transformative lighting can be—when you put in undercabinet fixtures, say, or installed recessed spots in a ceiling—you understand the value of adding a lighting expert to your home-building or redecorating team.
Lighting designer Shawn Dilts likes to be involved from the very beginning, collaborating with everyone from builders and remodelers to homeowners and electrical contractors.
“Light can be used architecturally as well as decoratively,” she explains, so she may start by considering how to highlight the exterior features of a home. “They should be lit properly for every time of day.”
An interior-lighting plan involves general (ambient) lighting, for all-over illumination; task lighting, to light up a work area; and accent lighting, for special effects. A laundry room may need only the first two, while a living room may need all three.
“My role is to help select the lighting fixtures to reflect the owner’s decorative taste and to consult with the electrician to see that the fixtures, switches, and controls are set up to reflect the desired mood,” Dilts says.
After setup, lighting systems can be preset to suit the occasion: entertaining in a living room, watching a movie in a media room, or reading in a bedroom.
“Even in outdoor spaces like a lanai and portico, you can use lighting to create different ways to enjoy the area,” she says.
Dilts also considers ease of maintenance in her planning. She guides homeowners to the longest-lasting bulbs appropriate for their purposes and may recommend a system that can lower fixtures so they can be easily reached.
Bloomington clients have many green concerns. “I’m all for energy efficiency,” Dilts says, though she notes that while recessed and undercabinet energy-efficient lights are up to par, in some areas of decorative lighting “products haven’t yet caught up to needs.” She helps clients calculate where to invest in energy savings and recommends fixtures that will meet future needs and regulations.
Dilts became a lighting designer over 20 years ago, after she joined her family’s electrical-supply business and opened its lighting showroom.
Her typical job takes four to six hours, including a one-hour initial consultation. Her $35 hourly fee is credited against the purchase of lighting packages from Stewart Electric Supply (320 S. Muller Parkway). Dilts can be reached at 336-1207 or through firstname.lastname@example.org.