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Seeing the Light

Tips for choosing the right lighting for your space.



Photograph: Amy Vischio

After the hard work is done, and the layout for a project has been set, the fun part begins. It is time to go shopping for the finishing touches… things like tile, hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures that can really transform the final product into something special. Although it is a good idea to start by visiting websites on-line, there is really no substitute for actually going to showrooms and seeing these various products up close. Some products look much better on-line than they actually are, because the marketing materials have been “photoshopped”. And others, believe it or not, actually look much better up close than they appear in their marketing materials. So I can’t stress enough the importance of seeing a product in person before you purchase it.

To that end, most design professionals have a stable of vendors they rely on as resources. So this month, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favorite resources for lighting… and in particular, for contemporary lighting. Over the past twenty years, I have frequently brought clients to meet with Don Aitchison of Greenwich Contemporary Lighting. When I first met Don, he was working as a designer at a lighting store in Sono named “Primo”, which had a wonderful showroom on Washington Street with many beautiful fixtures on display. He eventually left there to establish GCL, which had an equally wonderful showroom, though in a much cozier space on the Post Road in Cos Cob. Don operated from that location for many years. Recently, however, he has returned to his Sono roots and affiliated himself with NuKitchens. Though he still carries on his GCL business, he is also available to consult on NuKitchen projects. 

Neil Hauck

There aren’t many places to see well-designed contemporary lighting fixtures and systems in southern Connecticut. Most of the lighting showrooms cater to traditional tastes. Yet more and more of my clients are looking for modern interiors… and some situations (such as vaulted ceilings) call for non-traditional approaches to lighting such as low voltage cable systems or mini-tracks. And that is where Don comes in. He reps a number of lighting vendors, and has the knowledge and experience necessary to zero in on what will work and what won’t.    

To get started, I would recommend calling to make an appointment. Don spends a good deal of time out at his jobsites, getting a sense for the spaces he is designing for. So be sure to set up a time to meet. Next, it is helpful if you bring your floor plans (and any other drawings you may have of the spaces you will be lighting such as building sections) or pictures of the spaces to the meeting. This will allow him to zero in on the nature of the situation quickly. And that is when the fun starts, as you will be able to look at some of the most beautifully designed lighting fixtures available.

Don consults with clients in the NuKitchens showroom located at 132 South Water Street, in South Norwalk, Connecticut; 203.622.1441


Neil Hauck, AIA, established his architectural practice in 1988. Since then, his firm has produced a diverse body of work, including new homes, home renovations, civic, religious and commercial projects. He takes a holistic approach to the process of design, whereby each project evolves as a unique response to the client’s intentions, as well as the site and surrounding context. Visit his website for more information

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