Whether it is preparing a meal, entertaining guests, or doing homework, the kitchen is perhaps one of the most used rooms in your home and where many families spend a lot of time. However, many kitchens have poor lighting. One of the most common mistakes in a kitchen is trying to light the entire space with one ceiling-mounted fixture. Yes, I am talking to you.
Creating “layers of light” through the use of the three basic types of lighting will greatly enhance your kitchen and make it truly a place where you and your family will want to spend many hours together.
- General Lighting
Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting provides a room with overall illumination and helps to make people feel instantly welcome in a space. General lighting produces a comfortable level of brightness, enabling you to easily see and walk about safely. Indirect lighting hidden in coves, soffits, or over cabinet lights, and direct lighting in the form of recessed lighting, and ceiling-mount fixtures are all general lighting options.
- Task Lighting
Task lighting helps you to perform specific tasks in the kitchen, such as preparing food, reading a recipe, or perhaps doing homework. Under cabinet lighting and mini pendant lights hanging over a kitchen island are good examples of task lighting.
- Accent Lighting
This final type of lighting adds drama by creating visual interest through the use of light. Accent lighting is used to spotlight paintings, houseplants, prized possessions, or the texture of a wall. One example of accent lighting is aiming an uplight at the wall behind a plant which would create a dramatic silhouette of the plant on the wall.
Each of the lighting types above is available with different choices to make regarding the type of light source.
- Fluorescent Lighting
Fluorescent lighting is one of the coolest-operating of all light sources and today’s high-quality fluorescent lamps provide excellent lighting with good to excellent color rendition. When selecting fluorescent light fixtures for a kitchen try to select those that have instant-start electronic ballasts. This will ensure that the fluorescent lamp will turn on instantly without flickering, that the fixture will not give off much heat, and that the ballast will not emit a humming sound.
- Halogen Lighting
Halogen lighting is available in line voltage (120 volts) and low voltage (12 volts) options depending upon your needs. One thing to note, however, is that line voltage halogen is usually too hot to use in or under cabinets. Although, line voltage halogen lighting, in the form of PAR30 light bulbs, is a good choice in kitchen recessed downlights. A nice place to use low voltage halogen lighting is inside a cabinet – usually in the form of “puck lights.” It provides a very white, crisp light that often makes crystal and good china “sparkle.”
- Xenon Lighting
Xenon lighting is a dimmable, long-life incandescent light source that contains xenon gas in the glass envelope. The xenon gas is used to lengthen the average rated life of the lamp. This type of lighting is a nice option for either over cabinet lighting, under cabinet lighting, or indirect cove lighting.
- LED Lighting
LED lighting is an extremely energy-efficient, long-lasting light source and there are some attractive LED lighting options available for the kitchen. A new 6-inch LED downlight module can provide general lighting, LED under cabinet lighting is an option to provide good task lighting, and LED rope light can be used to provide accent lighting as over cabinet lighting, cove lighting, or toe-kick lighting under the bottom edge of your base cabinets.
One final important item to think about when enhancing the lighting in your kitchen is the use of dimmers. The ability to adjust light levels in any room, kitchens included, is ideal. With dimming systems you can lower the light level to conserve energy, increase lamp (light bulb) life, change the mood of the room, and alter the intensity of light to suit the activity. For example, when cooking, cleaning, or doing homework, a kitchen that is brightly lit makes any of those jobs easier. However, if you are lingering or conversing over a meal, dimmed lights can create just the right ambience.
If the kitchen is not lit properly, who will notice it, and most importantly who will even want to be in it? The appropriate kitchen lighting can add depth and/or excitement to your kitchen. Since you and your family spend so much time there, it is important to take the time to light it well so that it becomes a very inviting and pleasant space to be in.
Are you thinking about or have you recently completed a kitchen remodel in your home? What lighting choices are you thinking about making or did you make?