4 Simple Tips for Personalized Kitchen Lighting

This week, I participated in a weekly twitter chat called KB Tribe Chat (Hint: the “KB” stands for “Kitchen and Bath.”). It’s a lively weekly chat between professionals in the kitchen and bath remodeling industry, of which lighting is an important part. I always enjoy these weekly chats enormously. They are chock full of valuable information about current trends in kitchen and bath design (a big interest of mine, since I used to work for a K and B remodeling company just after finishing my undergraduate degree, while I was, you know, “finding” myself.). It’s also a fun time. There are a lot of personalities in the chat, and the conversations can get pretty funny. People share all kinds of great pictures of unique, or beautiful, or wacky designs. It’s especially rich because there are folks who make wine racks, who do custom tile, who do counters, cabinets, and floors.

To participate, head to Twitter (or a Twitter chat client, like TweetChat, with whom I have no affiliation but do use) Wednesdays at 2 p.m. EST and use the hashtag #KBTribeChat. Information about the upcoming chat is available in advance.

This week we had an especially interesting conversation. One of the questions was about using lighting to personal kitchens and baths. Of course, this got me very excited. I inadvertently learned that Twitter is great if you have a little that you kind of want to say. It’s terrible when you have a LOT that you REALLY want to say. That 140 character limit becomes a cruel, tyrannical constraint. So I thought to myself: You’ll just have to wait until you get back home to the blog, where you can write actual paragraphs, to answer this question. Ahhh. It feels good now to have a little room to stretch out.

So, how can you use lighting to personalize a space? Here are 4 things to keep in mind.

1) Fixture and Light Source

It’s the most obvious way to personalize your lighting. You’re in your kitchen. You look up at the old cloud fixture with the fluorescent tubes. You hear a faint buzz. You realize that fixture has been there for twenty years. You say NO MORE. And you replace it with one of the many elegant monorail track lighting systems that are out there. And instead of fluorescent, you want energy-efficient LED kitchen lighting. Voila. Personalization at its most straight-forward.

2) Placement

Or, you know what? A single overhead kitchen fixture is Boresville, USA. Let’s move some light around. Maybe it’s time for some low-profile, copper-trimmed recessed lighting. Actually, scratch that. Ceiling lights are too mainstream for you. Take them all out and use over cabinet lighting to create a far more subtle ambient lighting situation. After all, a hidden light source is a properly behaved light source.

Don’t stop there. Light emanating from under the cabinets, under the rim of the counter, and above the toe kick would give your kitchen a TON of personality. Rebel against the ceiling light, if simply replacing the fixture is not enough.

3) Lighting Controls

You want to personalize the light in your kitchen for a couple bucks and ten minutes? One word. Dimmers. Dimmers, dimmers, dimmers. Sometimes, all it takes to completely change the feel of your K or B is a quarter turn on a dimmer.

Of course, once smart lighting becomes more widely available, you’ll be able to adjust lighting levels and colors from your mobile device. That might be annoying, though. Dimmers are tried, true, and have become pretty snazzy in recent years.

4) Color Temperature

If you’re trying to personalize your kitchen, then I am going to guess that you might be adding color, either to the walls, counters, or tile. Maybe the cabinets. For example, if I were to initiate a strong kitchen personalization campaign, I might begin by making it a blue hue with brass hardware. (KB Tribe folks know I love that combination.)

Here’s where the lighting comes in. If my kitchen is blue, I might use lamps with cooler light because cooler light brings out blues and purples to our eyes. Likewise, warmer lights bring out reds and yellows. You want to keep the relationship between color temperature and kitchen color in mind when personalizing.

Anyway, I hope that helps! Thanks to all of our KB Tribe Chat friends for all these GREAT conversations.

Tom Sowders

After majoring in creative writing at NC State, I worked in the home remodeling industry. Then, I attended graduate school for a really long time and gained experience as a writer and writing instructor. I live in the Raleigh-Durham area with my wife and baby boy, and you can find me around the Triangle anywhere there's good music and/or NC-style BBQ.