Whether you are building a new home, planning an extensive remodel, or just trying to dress things up, choosing the right lighting for your kitchen is an important consideration.
The days when a single ceiling-mounted fixture provided all the illumination for the kitchen have long since passed and rightfully so. Today's kitchen, which is now considered the heart of the home, serves as the primary place for functional and social activities encompassing both food preparation and eating, along with a great deal more.
The best approach uses layers of light (ambient, task and accent). When used independently or in combination, they provide function and create atmosphere in the kitchen. The first step is to identify what areas or objects need illumination, and then select the best type of lighting for that area or object. For example, the sink, countertops, stovetop and island are work surfaces that might require task lighting.
By using multiple light sources and the proper lighting design it's easy to achieve the right mood, whether it's for a candle lit dinner or studying for the next day's exam. Proper switching also plays an important role in obtaining the desired atmosphere and can simplify how you interface with the controls.
Ambient lighting provides general illumination allowing for safe and easy movement throughout the room. The overall wash of light also helps fill in dark shadows created by accent or task lighting. The amount of ambient light needed depends on how the room is used, the amount of natural light available and the time of day. Types of fixtures that provide the best ambient light include chandeliers, pendants and inverted bowls.
Recessed downlights are becoming increasingly popular however, the direct lighting distribution is suited best for task and accent lighting, and should not be used for ambient lighting. Decorative lighting is much better suited for ambient lighting.
Chandeliers offer a more traditional solution, providing beauty and functional lighting over a table or large open area. Typically considered more of a decorative fixture, a chandelier adds an elegant touch which can brighten and warm up the room.
Pendants and inverted bowls are a popular decorative choice that provides excellent ambient light as well. A wide variety fixture colors and shapes are available which can be combined with different types of bulbs to create a comfortable and pleasant environment for the kitchen.
Task lighting can easily become one of the most important features in planning your lighting design. Key tasks in the kitchen include food preparation, cooking and cleanup, while at other times it's a place for homework, household business and family meals. Ensuring every task is met with equal importance can be addressed with a variety of lighting techniques and fixtures.
For lighting countertops, inconspicuous undercabinet lights help to illuminate the work surface and reduce body shadows and overhead glare.
Small pendant fixtures and recessed downlights are effective over a kitchen island. Many pendant fixtures are suspended from a track and can be a fairly simple retrofit. However, pendants should not be suspended so low as to block a person's vision while seated or standing at the counter.
The nook and pantry are two areas that are often neglected. Decorative pendants or a small chandelier can help create a cozy atmosphere, whereas the pantry might be an appropriate place for a LED fixture. In the pantry, it is important to provide sufficient light for reading product labels and ingredients. A door jamb switch is a convenient way to turn the lights on and off, especially when your hands are full.
Accent Lighting can enhance almost anything - fine artwork mounted on the wall, stunning tableware displayed in a china cabinet or the unique architectural traits of a room. Track lighting or recessed adjustable fixtures can make paintings and family portraits come to life, and they can also highlight the sparkle in table settings and centerpieces. Lights can be aimed at cabinets, or installed within them using "mini" accent lights. Miniature accent lighting adds charm and a third dimension to the space, and it is especially attractive for illuminating collectibles and dinnerware inside cabinets. Toe-kick lighting, which is mounted beneath cabinets near the floor, is another way to add elegance and style to a room.
Decorative lighting is determined by individual style and personal taste and is the best source to provide ambient light in the room. Ornamental chandeliers and carefully placed pendants provide ample light while adding flair to the kitchen. In fact, chandeliers can become the centerpiece of a room, while coordinating sconces complete the look. Eye-catching pendants come in a wide range of colors and styles to suit any taste. Multiple mini-pendants suspended over a kitchen island can provide illumination for tasks or eating, while also adding personality and style to the room. Used in combination with other light sources, decorative lighting provides sparkle and warmth to the room.
Destination Lighting has a wide selection of kitchen lighting available. Shop for kitchen lighting fixtures.
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