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Home Series: Luxury Lighting

It's all about the design

Clifford Starr designed an estate in NJ

Walk into any large lighting retailer, and you’ll find hundreds of ideas for illuminating your home. But there are so many options for placement, control devices, and a plan that matches your vision of the finished interior (or exterior), that even the most luxurious fixtures might not make the statement you were hoping for. 

Enter the lighting designer, a professional trained in the power of light: how to place it in your plans, specify it, install it, and equip your lights to create the effects you want. We spoke with Clifford Starr, who works as a consultant and Chief Lighting Designer for New York-based retailing pioneer Lighting By Gregory. Starr, who has worked for commercial and residential clients, in Connecticut as well as New York and New Jersey, and amassed a portfolio of more than 1500 projects, thinks that enlisting help with a lighting plan can make the difference in the overall effect of any home design.

Starr, noting that simple fixtures with clean, modern lines are beginning to eclipse the ornate chandeliers that once dominated the upscale lighting market, makes a startling statement.

“An empty house with great lighting can appear far more beautiful than another house filled with precious antiques, if the furnishings, the room, and the people in it aren’t properly lit,” says Starr.

He gives the example of pendants or chandeliers that are so large, bulky or opaque that they block a beautiful view just beyond where they’ve been hung. Another common error is that lighting controls, wall or floor outlets, and recessed fixtures can be awkwardly or improperly placed. 

“Often, it’s left to an electrical contractor to place various controls and fixtures; if the plan hasn’t been drawn with placement of furnishings and an understanding of both natural and artificial light sources, the final product is just not as effective as it could be.”

Starr’s services—and those of most designers who specialize in lighting—can begin at the time that blueprints are being drawn; most lighting designers appreciate being part of early planning to prevent having to make (expensive) changes late in the construction and furnishing process. Enlisting the help of a designer seems like a lighting luxury we can all use.

For more pictures of Clifford Starr's lighting designs, click here.

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