How the right lighting can instantly improve your home

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One often underestimated interior design element is actually one of the most impactful: lighting. It’s an easy way to beautify a space while enhancing its function. We spoke with Morgan Brubaker, in-house designer for a local design / build company Merrill construction group, on how she used lighting to further improve a home during a recent renovation project.

The overall goal of this project was to add additional square footage to a contemporary styled ranch home. With Japanese and mid-century influences, the house features clean lines, simplistic details, and natural tones and textures throughout. This has led to the use of cultural fixtures made from natural and honest materials.

“By speaking with the owners [about] what they envisioned when adding lighting to the space, we agreed it was an opportunity to really get creative and bring in some unexpected unique elements – the icing on the cake that enhances really the overall design, ”says Morgan. “We focused on bringing influences from Japanese and mid-century styles while sourcing locally where we could. “

One of the main elements of this project included the addition of a spacious kitchen and dining room. The large stained wood island is undoubtedly the focal point of this space, thanks to a stunning walnut butcher block that sits on top. With these already warm wood tones, Merrill Construction Group decided to add more contrast and character to the space. This is exactly what they did with two large diamond shaped lights with black finishes at the top and white glass at the bottom. “The goal here was really to add character,” says Morgan. “The husband even said, ‘These are my favorites [fixtures] because they remind me of those more origami, geometric, playful shapes. ‘”

Those Sarnen visual comfort small pendants add contrast to the kitchen and stand out from the warm wood finishes.

In that same area is a dining room that Merrill Construction Group approached a little differently, using four Nodes high pendant lights by Generation Lighting above the dining room table. “What I like is that it’s multiple pieces, but it reads like a complete set,” says Morgan. “It’s very simplistic but creates a statement. [The homeowners] have a lot of really unique and eclectic furnishings so it really pulls all of that elevation together and creates a statement without being over the top.

Generation Lighting Four Nodes Tall pendant lights above the dining table

“A lot of people don’t think of using multiple pendant lights to create a chandelier approach,” Morgan says of the dining room light fixtures. “Often you will choose one fixture or choose two pendants to drop on the island, but it is possible to combine multiple fixtures to create an overall impact.”

Dining room and kitchen in Nashville, TN, home

Here you can see the light fixtures in the dining room and kitchen, as well as the large pane windows that allow natural light to flood the space.

Another unique light is located above the coffee bar. Made by one of the owners’ fathers, who is a carpenter and owner at Sawdust shaker, you would never guess that this fixture is made of cherry wood at first glance. The fixture has been bent to form an oblong shape and is painted black, using metal fasteners to connect the wood in a unique pattern. “[This fixture] embraces these natural materials – just pure, honest forms – and it creates curiosity because you don’t realize it’s wood until you get close to it and actually see those details, ”says Morgan . “It pushes the boundaries of materials, because how often do you think of wooden lighting? “

Wooden light fixture made by Shaker Sawdust hanging above the coffee bar

In order to source locally, the owners recruited Sawdust shaker to create this unique light above their coffee bar.

On the theme of local materials and suppliers, the master bathroom features two Baton II fixtures from Southern Lights Electric. Rather than incorporating a single ceiling light, these two pendant lights hang on either side of the mirror, creating significant vertical visual interest. “These fixtures are simplistic in shape with aged steel and rope-like material contrasting with concrete wall tile,” says Morgan. “I like the approach of using mixed materials in this sleek form that really showcases the architectural elements while adding functional task lighting.”

Main bathroom with Batton II light fixtures

Batton II luminaires from Southern Lights Electric and the barn door create an industrial feel in the master bathroom.

Sleek master bathroom with skylight over the shower

The master bathroom also includes a skylight over the shower, which adds natural light to the space.

In addition to fixtures, Morgan also notes the importance of daylighting. Merrill Construction Group replaced all of the windows in the house, allowing them to bring in the outdoors, which was one of the homeowners’ goals during the renovation. “Natural lighting is so important no matter what style approach you take,” Morgan tells us. “It really connected the room to nature and brought the outdoors in. It was almost like a seamless transition between the two, and it really created the overall feel of the house. “

Large fiberglass window from Marvin Essential Collection at Dale Inc.

Homeowners love plants and greenery, so Merrill construction group helped bring the outdoors in with these large fiberglass windows from the Marvin Essential Collection at Dale Inc.

When it comes to the home’s overall aesthetic, Morgan says Merrill Construction Group has taken a minimalist and clean approach. They were able to open up spaces while seamlessly adding both style and function. The result is a house with a lot of character and visual interest.

Merrill Construction Group is located at 4535 Harding Pike, Ste. 300, Nashville, TN 37205. For more information, visit or call (615) 509-2011.

All the photographs of Ruby & Peach.

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