Lighting Design Tips from a Classicist
Michael Tartamella, Managing Principal of renowned Boston-based Patrick Ahearn Architect, shares how the right lights build character and purpose into a home.
Photography by Greg Premru.
“Classic architecture for contemporary living,” the tagline on Boston-based firm Patrick Ahearn Architect speaks clearly to the ethos of their practice. Page through their portfolio to see dozens of timeless New England-style homes drawn and built to their meticulous proportions and classic details. Their projects bring alive the elegance of old Boston and the charming vernacular of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard with a comfortable breeze of modernity. Because of their adroit mix of classic style and present day livability, we invited Michael Tartamella, Managing Principal of Patrick Ahearn to share how he plans the lighting for a home. Tartamella tells us that when devising a new home, the firm gives it an architectural narrative and that the lighting is part of that script. Here are his brightest tips for timeless looking, modern-day lighting.
Add Instant Age with Exterior Lanterns
A first impression is everything, and for our properties, that begins at the curb. We carefully select exterior lighting on a home to light the way and elevate an element of classic American vernacular. We often specify exterior fixtures that will weather over time to show a rich patina of age, scripting a home’s implied history from first glance. This statement of authenticity via lighting enhances a home’s architectural storyline.
Rethink Can Lights - It's Time
Recessed lighting has dramatically improved, with newer, smaller LED options that allow architectural details to take center stage without overtaking coffered ceilings or exposed beams. We don’t want lights in every room that simply turn on and off - it’s the subtlety of dimming fewer, more discreet, more efficient LEDs that allows for the sense of place we desire.
Include Multiple Dimmable Light Sources
Sconces in a gallery or entry, pendants over an island, center fixtures in a family room - all of these add brightness, function, and a homeowner’s personal touch. We recommend layering these pieces in addition to overhead lighting, with all fixtures on dimmers. In this way, our clients can enjoy the space whether task lighting or ambient lighting is required.
Scale Up Light Fixtures
When it comes to decorative lighting, clients often ask about sizing. When in doubt, I defer to the larger fixture. In terms of scale, most often spaces can handle a larger lighting piece than one would expect, and using that fixture will make a bolder and more personal statement. Our architecture is the timeless canvas on which our clients layer those elements to tell the bespoke story of their home.
In more than 15 years with Patrick Ahearn Architect, Managing Principal Michael Tartamella, AIA has provided outstanding design and project management for some of the firm’s most significant and award-winning projects. His passion for residential architecture and keen sense of scale translate into homes that are as timeless as they are contemporary, with a mindful eye towards modern family living. Email Michael at [email protected].