Thoughtful lighting design is often underestimated. Whether your goal is to dramatically showcase a well-curated wardrobe or create basic visibility in tight spaces, the right lighting placement will ultimately help you identify, access and appreciate your belongings. From closets to pantries, California Closets’ organizational systems can be customized with lighting that best serves a client’s aesthetic and functional requests. Transforming spaces grand and small, design consultant, Monika Kerstens, offers her insights on the big impact even small lighting details can make.

When should clients consider lighting in their system?

I recommend lighting to my clients, especially if they already have an unobstructed outlet in the space we are assessing because it allows me to easily build lighting into their custom designs. The only challenge I can think of is when the client does not have an accessible electrical outlet. In this case, I recommend working with a skilled electrician and can provide information on where to locate the new outlet.

What benefits make LED Lights an attractive option?

We use long-lasting LED lights because they are powerful, energy efficient and generate a minimal amount of heat. We offer warm and cool LED lighting and each option can impact the resulting look and feel the clients wishes to achieve. And, while their lower power use translates to energy savings, investing in lighting for spaces such as closets can also increase your home’s value.


What misconceptions you think many people have when it comes to lighting for their closet?

I don’t think people realize the extent of both the functional and aesthetic impact lighting can have. I’ve met with potential clients who have a closet that is 9’ x 12’ with only two recessed can lights in the ceiling and they believe they have sufficient lighting to identify, access and actually appreciate their belongings. They may not realize that the limited light does not “travel” through shelving, unless they have glass shelves. When I’m designing a closet system, for example, I try to educate my clients to help them understand why only one recessed puck light cannot effectively illuminate an entire section of the space and recommend ribbon lights that will cast an even glow over the clothing. Overall, I find that people are excited to learn about the breadth of our custom lighting design capabilities. Together, we collaborate on a lighting concept that is both visually pleasing and practical.


What is your favorite lighting application for achieving a dramatic impact?

I really like using ribbon lights under the bottom shelf (pointing down at the floor) and also above the top shelf (pointing up the the ceiling) as this really adds extra dimension to the entire space, especially for a closet. The light can enhance the colors of your floor and the finishes you used in the closet. I also like to use lights where I have mirrors or doors with a glossy surface as the light reflection makes the space feel larger and come to life.

Using one puck light for pointing at the chosen element can also create a dramatic effect, especially if we combine that with the backing of contrasting color with glossy finish or our beautiful collection of deep textured wood panels.

The right lighting application can convey that coveted boutique look for a striking walk-in closet, but it can also turn simple shoe or wine storage into an exceptional display or transform a small, dark cubby in a pantry or craft room into a space that is both visually appealing really and more functional.


What about dimmers?

We offer multiple switching options based on the needs and complexity of the design. Dimmer switches are ideal for softening light when intensity is not necessary and sensor switches provide a hands-free solution. Some custom designs require the flexibility of multiple options for operating and controlling lights in order to create the desired mood and effect.


Can you tell us ways you incorporate lighting that your clients may not anticipate?

Illuminated toe kicks or lights above the top of the system have grown in popularity over the last few years. Lights inside of drawers that illuminate the contents when the drawer is opened are a unique touch – a little bit like you open fridge and you see all you can drink and eat. I have also had great success with lights inside a wardrobe that are activated when the door opens. I am waiting for a solution where we can offer lighting around our handles that the light comes on when you approach the drawer or door – that would be super awesome!

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