For decades, it was traditional to have one huge light centered in the kitchen ceiling, but that can cause glare, wake up the whole house when you want a midnight snack and throw shadows over your preparation and cooking areas. Kitchen lighting should be multi-leveled with each light fixture having its own purpose while working with the others to make the kitchen both functional and welcoming. The best kitchen lighting plan involves four distinct types of lighting: task, ambient, accent and decorative.
Task lighting is needed to illuminate your actual kitchen work spaces. These include a central prep island, if you have one, the stove area and the pantry. Task lighting should be set between the work surface and the cook`s head, though overhead lights hung above an island can provide this illumination if the light is focused tightly and overlapping.
Under-cabinet lighting is excellent for countertop work surfaces. There are three main types of under-cabinet lights: fluorescent, halogen and incandescent.
Fluorescent lights last a long time, are not expensive and cast steady, cool light. They are available as long tubes which come in varying lengths, but can reflect badly off of certain colors.
Halogen lights are brighter than fluorescent lights and tend to be more focused. The bulbs are shaped like discs and the light they offer is very similar to sunlight.
Incandescent lights offer a soft glow that is not quite bright enough to make good work lights, though they are excellent ambient lights.
Ambient lighting is meant as background illumination and its sources are often hidden. The point of ambient lighting is to create a warm, softly-lit atmosphere which is useful in romantic situations or during small get-togethers. Ambient lighting also lights the kitchen enough for it to be inviting without it being all lit up like a cafeteria.
Accent lighting is becoming more popular in kitchens as people entertain more often at home. It is used the same way it is in other rooms to illuminate artwork or shed a soft light on glassware arranged behind glass doors. Halogen pin-spots are a popular form of accent lighting as are uplights and recessed eyeball lights.
Decorative lighting includes wall sconces and other lights that are intended to complement your decor rather than serve any purely useful function. They are less common in kitchens, but becoming more popular as kitchens evolve into more multi-purpose rooms.
When planning what type of lighting your kitchen requires, make careful notes about how each area of the kitchen is used. An office area will need much brighter and more specifically-aimed lighting than a small conversation area would and the prep counters and stoves need brighter lighting than a breakfast nook does. Also consider installing dimmer switches so that you can control which type of lighting is most visible at any given time.
The kitchen professionals at Kitchen Encounters remind you that lighting is only one part of your overall kitchen design. Once you have chosen your lighting, head over to Dunelm Mill to check out their wide selection of tables, chairs, bar stools and other furniture that is both practical and perfectly suited to any kitchen decor.Back to Blog
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