Achieving the right blend of task, ambient and focal lights is important when considering a lighting plan for any room. When it comes to the kitchen, it’s vital.
This is Part 1 of Valley Light Gallery’s 5 part series on The Essentials of Elements of Interior Lighting.
On a fundamental level you need adequate and targeted lighting to prepare your family’s meals. Equally as important though, what you’re looking to create is a real hub where it’s a pleasure to spend time. Here’s how to do it.
Make the most of natural light
There really is no substitute for natural light. When it comes to the kitchen, make sure you make the most of what you’ve got! Your options here will of course depend on how much work you’re planning on doing. If you’ve got a full kitchen redesign in mind, you can afford to give thought to the addition of new features such as roof lights and patio doors if these are not a feature of the room already.
It’s very easy to forget the obvious as well. Don’t inadvertently block those all-important light sources (something that’s all too easy to do in the kitchen). Even very simple steps such as making sure your windows aren’t cluttered with overly large potted herbs, ornamental plants or dishes can make a significant difference to the level of natural light flooding into your kitchen.
A new kitchen means a new lighting plan
Purchasing a new piece of furniture for the living room or dining room might call for a slight adjustment to the lighting arrangement (if only to show it off!), but only rarely would you need to consider large-scale changes. With the kitchen, things are different. In most kitchens, a large proportion of the wall-space is of course taken up by units.
Bear in mind that a light’s character can change dramatically depending on the surfaces it is reflected against. If you’re remodeling or refacing your cabinets from light modern to deep rustic southwestern (or vice-versa), you’re going to need a total re-think when it comes to the lighting arrangements. Even a subtle change in cabinet hue can significantly affect the nature of the light. We put a lot of thought and effort into cabinet remodeling. Don’t let all that work go to waste with an unsuitable lighting plan. It’s definitely worth seeking advice from your expert lighting store as to what’s going to work (and what’s not) with your particular cabinets.
Task lighting is vital
Boiling water, sharp knives, and hot pans: there’s plenty of ways you can come to harm in the kitchen – which is why you need to create a safe working environment. Task lighting needs to be focused on the stove and on your work surfaces. If those surfaces are directly under your cabinets, the obvious answer is to install lighting fixtures directly under them. LED strips and frosted glass installations are an ideal complement to a modern kitchen. In a more rustic setting, consider targeted spotlights. If your work surfaces are situated in a central island, check out the range of low-hanging pendants Valley Light Gallery has available in our showroom in Scottsdale Arizona.
Create a feature with your task lighting
Task lighting is there to do a job – but that’s not to say you can’t use it to create something special. Under-cabinet task lights are fantastic for illuminating and bringing to life a ceramic backsplash. It’s a great example of combining task lighting with focal lighting.
Uplighters are for ambiance
Those cabinets certainly come in useful when it comes to lighting your kitchen! Down light can be overly harsh – especially when reflected off a tiled floor and you’ll want to avoid over-reliance on it. Consider the top of your cabinets as a base for uplighters. You’ll find that a soft glow from an LED strip works particularly well. The bottom plinth of your cabinets and central island can be a useful base for lighting as well. This is particularly good at lending an interesting ‘floating’ effect to your island.
Centerpiece chandeliers aren’t just for the dining room
For many of us, the kitchen is the room of choice when it comes to entertaining. After all, who wants to be shipped off to the dining room to leave the host to prepare dinner in isolation? There’s a sense of intimacy and informality in the kitchen that’s difficult to recreate anywhere else. Whether you sit around the central island or a separate table to entertain guests, it’s worth investing in a truly standout chandelier. Think eye-catching elegance rather than dazzling extravagance. Bring it right down as well; a height of around 30” – 36” from the table surface is ideal.
Planning is the key
A layered lighting plan will help bring your kitchen to life. Layering also brings you flexibility. It should give you enough scope to meet multiple needs depending on the time of day and what’s going on in the room. A little thought will help you create the perfect space.