Q&A with Elle H-Millard, Industry Relations Manager for the National Kitchen & Bath Association

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enLIGHTenment Magazine’s Hannah Rachel Carroll sits down with Elle H-Millard, CKD, Industry Relations Manager for the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), to discuss lighting’s growing role in these important rooms.

Hannah Rachel Carroll: Kitchen & bath lighting seems to be changing for the better. Has lighting become more important – especially with the influx of LED technology – to kitchen & bath designers?

Elle H-Millard: Lighting is incredibly important in both kitchen and bath design. LED lighting has given designers more options to illuminate functional zones while also giving lighting engineers more creative freedom. When LED lighting first became available, the excitement was focused on its energy efficiency and the cost savings of the initial investment. However, today, the focus is on the quality and color of the light emitted. These variations give designers the functionally and aesthetics that make a space both beautiful and safe for the homeowners. 

At $147.3 billion, the U.S. residential kitchen and bath market represents one-quarter of the entire U.S. residential construction market.

HRC: There seems to be more attention paid to lighting at the mirror in a master bath, as well as inside the shower. What are some of the lighting trends you are seeing?  

EHM: Lighting used for grooming in the bathroom should be as closely represented to natural daylight as possible so the color of one’s face, makeup, hair, and clothing is portrayed accurately.  What that means in LED lighting is that the temperature scale leans more toward the cooler side of the spectrum (2700 to 3000K is recommended) versus the warmer side (which also has its advantages if used in the right application).

            Mirrors with connectivity and integrated lighting are ideal for grooming and were seen this year at KBIS 2018 in Orlando.  Also very popular is distributing the light evenly on both sides of the mirror using linear sconces, as well recessed cans, for general task lighting. The recent NKBA trend report shows that 81 percent of designers are specifying recessed cans in the shower, many with built-in fans to control humidity. 

The $147.3 billion represents the value of all products used in kitchens and bathrooms last year, both for new residential construction (single and multi-family units) as well as for remodeling or replacement projects in existing homes.

HRC: There appears to be a shift in preferences in island lighting, going from one large linear fixture to hanging 2 or 3 individual pendants instead. What are some of the changes you have observed?

EHM: Decorative lighting is an opportunity to give a space some personality and make it feel unique for each homeowner. The influx of Farmhouse-style kitchens has made way for creativity and the use of raw elements including multiple fixtures. Lighting should mimic the size of the space illuminated, so the size of the table or counter will dictate the amount of light needed. 

The blend of a vintage, yet modern, look is becoming quite popular in Contemporary-style kitchen designs where the mixed metals and unique shapes create a sophisticated, cohesive look. 

For 2018, NKBA forecasts that the residential kitchen and bath market in the U.S. will grow an additional 9.3 percent to $178 billion.

HRC: Consumers seem to be embracing LED lighting, do you think the kitchen & bath community has accepted it as well?

EHM: LEDs have come a long way since making their first appearance on the market. Good LED lighting has a Color Rending Index (CRI) of 90 or above. The actual color of the light is based on the temperature which ranges from cool to warm (the lower the temperature number the cooler the light, the higher the temperature the warmer the light).

              Cool light can cast a blue hue if the temperature is too low, whereas warm light can cast a yellow hue if temperature is too high. Generally, cooler lighting is best suited for closets and bathrooms and warm light is best suited for bedrooms and living rooms. Daylight lighting is the most accurate, however not always suited for all spaces.  

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