The kitchen has been called the heart of the home. It’s the place families come together and it acts as a central hub of activity for the house. With so much emphasis placed on this one area, it makes finding the right kitchen lighting all that much more essential. Here are a few things to keep in mind on kitchen lighting to reach the full potential of this space.
Know Your Types
Effective kitchen lighting blends several different types of lighting together to create a well-lit, inviting space. While you can use just one type, you will get a better result from combining several options into one throughout the lighting plan. Using several types of lighting creates a more layered look which will also help to eliminate the glare of having just one main fixture that is overly bright.
- Task. Task lighting should be placed anywhere where tasks will be performed which require ample illumination. Tasks such as chopping, peeling, and other cooking based tasks that require focused lighting with a more focused illumination scope. A great option for this is track lighting or directional lighting that provides a focused beam of light spread.
- Ambient. Ambient lighting is about creating ambiance. The purpose of this lighting solution is not to create bright light for visibility. This type of lighting is about adding gentle tones of light to an area for an inviting warmth to this living space. It also has a softening effect to balance out the brighter lights which can create harsher lines and shadows. Ambient lighting can be created based on using smaller fixtures carefully placed or by using bulbs with lower lumen outputs. The color temp is also a factor for designing ambient lighting so opt for warmer temps over cooler ones.
- Accent. Accent lighting is used to draw attention to a specific area. For instance, a wall mount fixture that casts gentle downward light over a wall with decorative accents is an example of accent lighting. This type of lighting is usually done with directional lights that allow you to adjust the placement of the light spread to where you need it. Other options for this type of light include wall sconces, recessed can lights, and track lights.
- Decorative. This type of lighting is about choosing the light fixture based on the appeal of the fixture more than the lighting function. An example of this would be adding a chandelier light over the center island. While it would provide illumination, the decorative features far outweigh the lighting ability.
While kitchen lighting is usually pretty straightforward, there are a few areas that you should pay attention to when designing kitchen lighting.
- Under Cabinet Area. Adding under cabinet lighting is one of the easiest ways to create ambiance in a kitchen. Whether you choose a T5 strip lamp, directional lights, or disk lights, it is important to note that while this light is about ambiance, it can also serve a dual purpose of task lighting, depending on the solution chosen. For instance, a dimmable LED fixture that offers a high lumen output, can offer additional task lighting when at its most powerful, but then offer ambient lighting when dimmed to a lower lumen output.
- General Lighting. When most people think of general lighting, they think of one large fixture overhead that is intended to light the entire space. General lighting has evolved into a more modern approach. While having a main fixture that operates as the primary light source isn’t out of style, the overall brightness has changed. The need to overcompensate with one fixture can be completely eliminated when you incorporate the different layers of lighting into the space. In fact, general lighting needs should be considered after the four previously mentioned layers are already in place and used to fill in the gaps instead of used as the starting point.
- Communal Areas. Communal areas are places in the kitchen where people will linger. While kitchens were once just about cooking, the modern concept of the kitchen usually includes either a breakfast nook area or a seated bar area. These areas are meant to create a sense of warmth that invites people to linger and connect with one another. The lighting here should be more on the ambient side than the general lighting or task side of things. A great choice for this area would be hanging ceiling mounted lights which cast a lower light spread.
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