Let there be Lights: Lighting solutions add function, comfort and style to builder’s home

Lighting is an essential element of any home. Real estate agent and builder, Mickey Rowland of Excel Homes, understands firsthand the importance of lighting and its impact on the enjoyment of a home. To get the lighting just right, Rowland works with a lighting professional to incorporate solutions into the homes he builds, including his own home.  


Rowland completed his personal home in early 2018, which features a rustic, modern farmhouse look. Warm wood tones, neutral classic colors and timeless custom finishes carry the farmhouse aesthetic throughout. Wide-planked hardwood flooring blends with sleek chrome hardware and Restoration Hardware vanities. The home includes custom cabinets and woodwork, beautiful Cambria countertops, and carefully chosen lighting to complement the design.


To get the lighting just right, Rowland turned to lighting design specialist Ami Olson of WT Lighting for lighting recommendations. “The first thing to consider is the size of the space,” says Olson. “Decisions will be different depending on whether it is a large, open room, such as a living room or family room, or a smaller area, such as a bedroom or sitting area. Second, if I am working with homeowners or a builder, I find out if they have a vision for the space and how it will be used,” she continues. “For example, do they want general purpose lighting—such as recessed lights and a ceiling fan—or do they want a more intimate space with a center chandelier?” 

Lighting is a functional aspect of Rowland’s home and the lighting design was created to make life easier and more efficient. “Lighting can transform any room, and the lighting choices are critical to ensuring cohesiveness in the house,” says Rowland. “I love to mix and match finishes and styles, depending on the room, to bring it all together for the beautiful finished product. Each room in my home has its own special features, but the mix of various chrome accents, distinct textures in the flooring, and bold wrought iron light fixtures in the kitchen really brought everything together to achieve exactly the finished product we envisioned.”


Dimmers, step lights, puck lights, tape lighting, rope lighting and wall sconces can be used in many areas of a home to set a mood or highlight unique aspects of the home’s design. Rowland’s kitchen incorporates recessed lights that add visibility and pendant lights that provide depth and texture above the island. 

The possibilities for lighting are endless. “Under-cabinet options can offer better task lighting, while cabinets with glass doors and glass shelves may require a puck light to highlight contents,” says Olson. “We can add rope lights or above-cabinet lighting for ambiance.” In addition, dimmers can be used to soften lighting.


The geometric light fixtures in Rowland’s home provide a modern look and are unique pieces of art. From the wrought iron fixtures in the kitchen to similar, yet translucent, geometric fixtures in the nearby rooms, each is a carefully chosen focal point. The home’s exterior displays a welcoming barn light fixture. Olson says manufacturers are beginning to recognize that people use lighting as jewelry, or even art, in the design of their homes. Everyone has different tastes, and the market is now reflecting the need for unique and updated styling.

Today, homeowners also have interest in new lighting technologies, which often can be incorporated later. “Technology is changing every day, and sometimes it is hard to keep up. More and more people are using Google home systems or others like it,” says Olson. “Most of these systems are put in after project completion. Special smart bulbs and switches work with the systems and apps, so no special wiring is required. Sooner or later, we may not need wires to control our lighting or other items in our homes. Until then, LED lighting can be used to cut back on electrical consumption and promote energy savings.” 


“We involved Ami early in the building process to ensure we were on the same page regarding all aspects of the lighting throughout the home,” shares Rowland. “We reviewed the house plan, and we planned the lighting based on our budget.”

Rowland shared the plans for the home with Olson who made the lighting selections and kept on budget. Together, they reviewed and finalized changes. Rowland adds, “She also does a great job selecting lighting options for our clients and suggesting lights that align with the style they are looking for.” 

Rowland thoroughly enjoys his new home, which is a blend of modern design and vintage charm. It is the result of a clear vision, attention to detail and quality lighting choices that demonstrate timeless function, character and style. While considering the many homes he has built, he concludes: “The lighting in this home is one of my favorites.”

Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer. Her home includes Edison-style vintage lights and innovative smart bulbs.