With a clever approach to lighting, the Delaware-based designer’s coastal homes shine.
Looking at her impressive portfolio, you’d never guess Megan Gorelick didn’t orginally set out to be an interior designer. Instead, she channeled her natural creativity and style into the fashion and beauty industries in New York City, where she built a career before taking time off to raise her three girls. When she and her family returned to Delaware, where Megan grew up, they purchased a 1960s brick house crying out for an overhaul. Before she knew it, she was elbows deep in wallpaper and lighting schedules. She even dialed up the head of a North Carolina furniture manufacturer to inquire about custom pieces. “It was pretty bold to just call up the owner,” Megan says. “But for some reason we just clicked.” Much like Megan and interior design, which, overtime, snowballed into a full-time career. Perhaps the serendipity of her second act is what makes Megan so passionate about her work. She brings an incredible attention detail, unique perspective, and her trademark sense of humor to each project—from Manhattan apartments to Philadelphia estates to the collection of beach houses in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, which have become something of a signature. “With resort homes, we’re often working with a clean slate,” Megan says. “So we can really pull a whole lighting plan together.” For help on that front, she frequently looks to Circa. “We always start with Circa because the collection is so well edited.” Megan builds a lighting plan based on a few core tenets. Here, she walks us through the process in a handful of her contemporary coastal homes.
Determine the Look and Feel of the Space
“I really want to infuse the client’s personality into their home and make it feel super personal and warm,” she says. “So I do a lot of listening at first to see how they want their home function, what their vibe is, where they’re willing to take risks and where they’re not. Are they modern? Traditional? Edgy? Can we be whimsical about this or that?” Lighting, Megan says, is a powerful tool that allows you to amplify or mute different style notes. One thing Megan loves about Circa, “their lighting works everywhere."
Think of Lighting like Jewelry
“It can be a subtle and sophisticated extra or a bold outfit-defining statement piece. “Since I studied fashion,” Megan says, “I often treat designing a house like getting dressed. The bones and your foundation are your basics (pants, tops, that type of thing). Lighting, that’s the jewelry. You have to get the layers right.”
Build Atmosphere with Layers of Lighting
The mix is important, and Megan is always looking to strike a thoughtful balance between floor and table lamps as well as ceiling and wall lights. “I like having light at different levels,” Megan says. “It’s all about the ambiance and setting the scene. And categorically, everything should go on dimmer switches that can.”
Use Wall Fixtures to Your Advantage
“I love, love, love using wall fixtures because I think wall fixtures get overlooked a lot,” Megan says. “Sconces. Picture lights. I’m crazy about them.” Up stairwells, down hallways, flanking a wet bar, spotlighting art, or in place of lamps when a design calls for floating furniture, wall lights add interest and ambiance and can even be used to create the illusion of light and space in smaller dimly lit spaces, transforming a windowless basement in the Hamptons into the inviting showplace pictured above, for example.
Don’t Overlook Bathrooms
“A lot of my beach houses have anywhere from six to eight bathrooms. And I need to mix it up a little,” Megan says. “One of my favorite tricks is to put wall lights through the vanity mirror. I’m really thrilled about the bathroom shades Circa came up with in the past few years. They’ve made my life so much easier.
Let Lighting be a Common Thread
It pays to think big picture, Megan says. “Intangible. That’s the word.” she says.. “ Lighting is an intangible thread that leads you through the house. Your eye bounces from one thing to the next. The lights, especially wall lights, guide you through the house.” But that doesn’t mean the need to match, just complement each other.