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Interior Design in Victoria

18Dec 2020

How to choose the right lighting for your home renovation in Victoria, BC

When you think about your upcoming home renovation, you probably imagine the sparkle of the cabinets and countertops in your new kitchen, the bright and beautiful updated bathroom, and maybe how that artwork you bought on holiday will fit perfectly in your redesigned living room layout. In your mind’s eye, the lighting is flawless — just like what you see in your favourite design blogs. But if the real space doesn’t have an effective lighting strategy, it won’t look as good as it should.

Home and room renovations completed by the MACreno team in Victoria look amazing because our designers consider and select the lighting to match how you’ll use the space, then make educated decisions to inform your overall lighting plan.

Mike McDougall, a lighting professional at McLaren Lighting here in Victoria, explained, “in your living rooms and kitchens — the main areas of your home — using the right lighting showcases the quality of the components you’ve chosen. While some of the builder-quality, value-focused options may provide some lumens, they aren’t the best choice for general lighting. We’ve seen some kitchens where the homeowner splurged on nice countertops then tried to save a bit with economy lighting. The lights gave off too much glare, taking the focus away from the new surfaces. We provided a better solution, but it would have been more cost-effective to have planned it right from the start. One of the reasons we like working with MAC Renovations is that they include a lighting scheme that ensures the renovation looks great every time you look at it.”

Choosing the right lights

There are three main lighting categories: general, task, and accent. Choosing the right light for each application is an essential part of the design process, so here are some things to consider discussing with your designer.

General Lighting

Lighting that floods a room, typically from the ceiling, is called general or ambient lighting. It’s usually artificial but often supplements natural lighting in a smart design. Your lighting scheme for ambient light might include chandeliers, recessed lighting, track lighting, and wall-mounted fixtures, or even floor or table lamps if they fit the design scheme.

Task Lighting

When you’re doing something that requires direct light, this is generally done through task lighting. It makes chopping carrots in the kitchen, crafting a favourite memory, or curling up in a comfy chair with a great book much more enjoyable. Your designer will look at how you use the space and recommend task lighting where it will be most beneficial and effective.

Accent Lighting

Using lighting to enhance a specific spot in your home lets you bring the focus where you want it. Paintings and sculptures are obvious spots to feature smart accent lighting, but they’re beneficial in other places in your home as well: in-cabinet accent lighting to showcase your favourite collection, under-cabinet lighting to subtly make a space warmer and more welcoming, and even under-vanity options, so you don’t have to turn the overhead lights on in the middle of the night to use the washroom.

Light Emitting Diodes (LED)

There are very few lighting considerations that can’t be addressed through an LED-based solution. You can find an LED fixture or bulb to rival any incandescent, usually delivering more benefits: offering many more years of beauty, requiring minimal energy consumption, and providing an exceptional colour range. LEDs are a smart solution for general, task, and accent lighting, indoors and out.

Full Control

“When I’m doing a lighting plan, I choose switches that have dimmers,” said Azu Saavedra, an interior designer at MAC Renovations. “If all of the lights are on full bright at the same time, it can feel like a hospital room. Layered lighting works better, making the space more comfortable by letting you choose how much light to give the space.”

Do you know what designers hate to see? Light switches. And with today’s technology, it’s possible to create a design that uses a central controller with strategically placed keypads and voice controls, giving you the ability to control the light in your life: enjoying it where you want it, when you need it. The leading controllers integrate well with Google Home and Alexa and should play well with future technologies as they come to market. Another benefit of smart lighting systems is the ability to control them from your smartphone. You can improve your home’s security from the beaches of Hawaii or your office in Saanich by providing the illusion that people are in the house.


Whether you’re looking at lighting options to enhance your new living space or interested in energy efficiency upgrades to reduce your carbon footprint, give us a call to find the right lighting strategy for your renovation. We’ve been remodelling homes in Victoria for nearly 40 years, and we’re looking forward to helping you love where you live.

12Aug 2020

When you visit our website or our profile on Houzz, you’ll find a huge selection of photos of projects we’ve done and rooms we’ve renovated. We’re proud of the work we do, and we like to share the results to help other homeowners develop ideas for their own space. You might think it’s impossible to update a particular room in your home, but chances are, we’ve done something similar for someone else in Victoria. And we have the photos to show you what your space could look like with help from our professional design team and master craftspeople.

We’re regularly asked if the pics we share are real homes or just mock-ups from our design studio. People don’t believe it because of the way the room is staged, but they’re real homes with real people living in them. You might not see the chipped cookie jar on the counter or the overflowing junk drawer in the hallway, but moments after the photos were snapped, these homes go back to their natural state: keeping everyone warm, dry, and happy. That’s the magic of home staging.

Staging a Home in Victoria

Staging isn’t decorating – it’s depersonalizing. The goal is to remove the customizations that you’ve made so the viewer can imagine how the space might be used, and where they can add their creative touches to make it their own. 

“The first thing we do is declutter the space – taking away all of the personal items, so people can imagine what it could be like for them,” explained Azucena Saavedra, Interior Designer/Project Manager at MAC Renovations. “It used to be about making it super-clean and empty – and that’s still a part of it – but now it’s more about making it homey and dreamy. Removing the ‘lived-in’ look and creating a space that stands out and inspires ideas.”

“As the in-house designer at MAC Renovations, I do the staging for all of our projects,” said Azu. “If I’ve designed the home, I’ll have a good idea about what I’d like to focus on, and for projects designed by the rest of the team, I’ll go to HomeSense and find things that I think will work – colours and textures that enhance the room. The funny thing is, sometimes the homeowners like the items I bring for the staging so much that they buy them from us because they fit the space so well. I’m like their personal shopper.”

Capturing the Moment

The staged home is ephemeral – just the briefest moment in time. To effectively preserve that instant, we rely on talented photographers to focus on what’s important and ensure everything else is kept out of the shot.

“Lighting is an important consideration,” said Dasha Armstrong, one of our favourite photographers. “Usually, the homeowners’ first instinct is to turn on every light to make it as bright as possible, and that might work, but I prefer to play around with the light, using a balance of natural lighting and shadows. As a professional photographer, I have the ability to make the light do what I want, using reflectors and different light setups, but using natural lighting often gives the best results. I find it’s best to start with minimal artificial light, then add it where it’s needed.”

“Another thing that can make a big difference is to get creative with your angles and perspectives,” said Dasha. “Look at the shot from different vantage points to find the best way to present the design.”

After the Click

“There are many things that can be fixed by someone skilled with Photoshop,” explained Dasha, “such as removing outlets or vents, but for most things, it’s much easier to remove them before taking the picture. I carry a cleaning cloth with me for every job, because a few seconds of scrubbing can prevent a few hours of touching up in post. In terms of brightness, we’re able to blend different exposures and use brightness from different parts of the room to put the focus where we want it.”


So the next time you see a staged photo, you can rest assured that in the split second of the camera shutter click, the house really did look like that. Shortly after, it went back to the real world, where people live and love the spaces we complete for them.

Check out the pics in our gallery to see what we can do to make your home beautiful, and to find out how we can do to help you love you home, give us a call

19Jun 2020
planning a home reno in victoria, bc

How pre-construction planning keeps your renovation on time and on budget.

Whether you’ve lived in Victoria for years or you’re planning to move here and need a renovation done remotely, it’s important to begin your home improvement with the right information. Your renovation budget is part of the equation, but it’s far from the only aspect. Timeline, zoning requirements, environmental assessments, and other factors play a major role in the completed project. A home in Victoria is probably the biggest asset you’ll ever purchase, so it’s vital that all considerations are taken into account. The estimated price shouldn’t be the sole reason you choose one contractor over another – you need to trust that you’re getting the best team for your investment and that they can deliver what they promise, on time and on budget.

“Our job is to take care of the problems our customers are having,” said Blaise McDonald, co-owner and president at MAC Renovations.  “Whether that’s not enough space in their home, updating it to reflect their lifestyle, setting them up to comfortably age-in-place, or improving a room so they can enjoy their time at home.”MAC Renovations - contractor for life

A smart start

“By asking questions, we can better understand what’s important to the homeowners,” shared Ed McDonald, co-owner of MAC Renovations in Victoria. “We find out what you want to do as well as why you want to do it. When we know the reason for the renovation, we can use that to make decisions in the planning stage of your project, as well as while we navigate the municipal requirements.”

We are a team of professionals, and one of the reasons we’ve become Victoria’s most trusted renovation contractor is because we’ve developed effective processes to ensure every project is successful. We follow the same approach, every time, to ensure we know exactly what to expect during each stage of your renovation, whether it’s a whole home remodel or a much-needed update to your cramped kitchen

The power of pre-construction planning

“Pre-construction is where a project is made,” explained Blaise. “With smart planning, we can establish a timeline and a fixed-price, and identify any issues that might prevent the renovation from happening. It’s about mitigating risks early in the process. We’ve had more than one project halted or shelved due to zoning issues, architectural challenges, environmental concerns, or other matters where the available resources weren’t sufficient to begin the project.”

“Our clients are not obligated to do the project with us at the end of the pre-construction process.  You can use everything we discover in the planning process with whichever builder you want,” said Ed. “We’ll do our best to show you that we’re the right choice for your project, but you are free to do it with the team you are most comfortable with.”interior renovation victoria BC

Our pre-construction planning covers a lot of ground:

We’ll complete a feasibility study to determine if the changes you want are possible. We’ll identify any safety concerns, and then consult with the architects, structural engineers, and other professionals. We might open a  wall to see what the structure is like, have an electrician examine the wiring to see what’s required to bring it up to code, or have a geo-technician test the soil. 

We have a talented architectural designer who understands all of the municipal requirements, and he’ll guide us through the tricky waters of municipal planning, observing the setbacks and planning to overcome potential limitations. 

Once we’re confident we can complete the project, we’ll move to the next stage – bringing in an interior designer to develop a floor plan that encapsulates the building requirements to add or update the space you want to improve. The designer will work with you to create a plan for your remodel based on your needs, wants, and personal preferences.

Following the design component, we’ll finalize the plan specifications, with firm quotes from our suppliers and contractors, timelines for the building permits, and a schedule to know who and when each component will be completed. We’ll pre-purchase the materials to allow for long delivery times, so we can be efficient with our time throughout the project. 

And then we’ll add everything to BuilderTrend, the project management tool we use to keep everyone informed and on schedule.  interior design - MAC Renovations Victoria

Planning for success

There is a substantial amount of work before we make a change in your home, and the time invested at this stage of your renovation in Victoria ensures that every phase is completed as expected – whether you’re living in the house during the renovation, or you’re planning alternate accommodations while we take care of everything. 

“Through our pre-construction process, we’re able to determine a fixed price for every job,” said Blaise. “The majority of changes to the scope of a project, if any, are client-driven – changes that bring value to the home, but weren’t part of the initial design. This is usually because our clients like what we’re doing, and trust us to do it right for them.”

If you’re considering a renovation in Victoria, whether it’s for a single room or to update your whole home, give us a call to discover the MAC difference for yourself – we know you’ll be happy with the outcome.