Reliable Remodeler Blog
Reliable Remodeler Blog
Expert Interview: Michelle Steinback of Schoolhouse Electric Co.
Written by: Paige
There is nothing I like more than featuring local businesses I love from the Portland area. Two weeks ago I was proud to feature an interview with a designer at Neil Kelly, and this week I have another great Portland company who was willing to answer my questions, Schoolhouse Electric Co.
Michelle Steinback, General Manager of Schoolhouse Electric Co., had a wealth of information to share with us on successfully lighting your home.
Michelle is a Portland native who has been with Schoolhouse Electric Co. since the company’s founding in May 2003. Since then the company has grown from two employees to twenty, including a showroom in Portland, Oregon and one in New York, and a factory where the metal finishing and assembly take place. Michelle oversees the daily operation of the company including everything from product development & marketing to customer service & quality control.
Schoolhouse Electric Interview :
1. Why are lighting fixtures and lighting design an important part of a home remodeling project?
We think of lighting as house jewelry. It can pull together a space and certainly makes a statement about the finish quality and style of a home. Tasteful lighting and woodwork are the kind of details that give houses timeless character and appeal.
2. What is the most important thing that a homeowner should consider when planning to install new lighting in their home?
Consider the big picture. Choose timeless designs and high quality fixtures that will stand the test of time. Avoid trendy looks and disposable quality fixtures that will fail quickly and end up in the landfill—wasting your time and money.
3. If a homeowner was going to splurge on one part of their home’s lighting system, what would it be?
Typically people spend the most on light fixtures for their entertaining spaces including the living room, dining room and kitchen. These rooms set the tone for the house and are a good place to splurge.
4. You provide many lighting options for homeowners trying to do authentic period renovations, what do you love about older fixtures and lighting that we lack in contemporary designs?
Two things: Details and quality.
Almost all lighting and hardware is made overseas these days. Fine detailing is overlooked and the quality is spotty. We are bucking that trend by keeping our manufacturing in the USA so we can keep craftspeople and time honored production techniques alive here in America. We take great pride in every detail and the quality of American made parts far and away superior. Another advantage to manufacturing in the USA is that it reduces the carbon footprint of our products by eliminating the need to transport materials around the world. Our light fixtures are built to last 100 years and can be re-wired or easily recycled at the end of their life, unlike disposable quality lights made overseas and sold at big box stores. We take pride in our products and do not cut corners—just like the good old days.
5. I tend to focus more on the style of lighting fixtures rather than the function, how can homeowners find a balance between style and function for their own lighting design?
Think of lighting in terms of layers to open the most possibilities and flexibility in your design. Consider mixing overhead ambient lights with sconces, recessed lighting, indirect lighting (such as under counter lighting) and/or table or floor lamps to achieve the level of light you need in a room. For instance, if you are working on a kitchen design and want a set of “eye candy” pendants over your island but you know they are not going to put off enough light for all the task areas in the room, be sure to add additional layers of lighting to make the space functional and adaptable to different uses.