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Kitchen Lighting Design

Kitchen Lighting Design 

Time and money spent remodeling your kitchen causes one to want to do it “right.”  Your kitchen cabinets and décor is not only complimented but is completed with a proper lighting plan.  Many lighting supply stores have folks on staff who are trained to help you design just such a plan. 

Lighting for your kitchen should create different dimensions to your kitchen.  To achieve that you should incorporate at least 3 of the following types of lighting.  Each way will have not only a different feel but will provide a unique function.  And by adding dimmer switches to any of the following you can create even more dimensions to your kitchen. 

Recessed Lighting
There are a couple of ways that you can use recessed lighting.  The first is to use it as a wash of light over the fronts of your cabinets as well as your work areas.  A spot would give you a narrower beam of light that could create shadows either wanted or not wanted.  A flood light would give you more of a wash of light.  If you'd like more information on recessed lighting light bulbs, read this article.

The second function of recessed lighting in a kitchen is to illuminate the whole room.  If you have a large kitchen you might decide to use some additional recessed lighting around an eating cove or along walk way areas that might appear dark otherwise. 

Track Lighting
Track lighting can be used for the same functions of the recessed lighting.  It can either provide light above counters and cabinets so that you can see in the cabinets.  Or it can light up dead spaces.  Track lighting generally comes down a little from the ceiling.  The amount of distance is dependent on how high your ceiling is.   

There are basically two styles of track lighting.  One that is a straight bar that can either be installed flush with your ceiling or lowered a bit.  The second is more of a funky artsy style that is often curvy.  They can take LED light bulbs or more often Halogen light bulbs. 

Some use track lighting for the design element.  Others might use track lighting for the mere fact that you don’t have any space above your kitchen to put a recessed can.  There are remodel cans that can be installed from below if you can not get to the crawl space above your kitchen.  But when you don’t have that space is the time someone might opt for track lighting. 

Under Counter
Under counter lighting is really more important than most think.  The main function is to light up your work area on your counters.  It also lights up the area under your counter where recessed or track lighting will not reach.   

When under counter lighting is installed it should be installed under all of your cabinets.  They either come in the form of low voltage puck lights or string of fixtures that hold a long tube style light bulb. 

Pendant Lights
Often you will see pendant lights in groups of three.  Always try and install an odd number.  Occasionally, two will suffice but one or three is much better.  Today pendants enhance the décor or feel of your room.  Manufacturers offer many different styles of pendant lights.  Those styles enhance your décor whether you are decorating your home in a modern style, traditional style or any other fancy you have.   

Pendants are used above kitchen islands or bars.  Here, you will want to hang your pendant at 72” from the floor.  This will allow anyone standing on either side of the island or bar to have a conversation without having the pendant in the middle of their eye sight line.  And it won’t be so high that you are blinded by the light bulb if you happen to look up. 

Over Table Lighting
Larger pendants and chandeliers are common place in a kitchen over an eating area.  These provide an anchor above your table and complete the space whether it is portioned off by a wall or is a part of another room.   

You will want to hang a chandelier or pendent in the center of where your table will be.  Now, if you live in an older home like mine the electricity doesn’t always come out of the ceiling in the right place.  What we’ve done is to place a hook above the center of our table.   We insured the cord of the chandelier was long enough to drape from the power to our hook and fall to right length. 

Over an eating table you will want to hang your fixture at 60” from the floor.  For the same reasons I’ve noted above with pendant lights, you will want to be able to converse with someone across the table but not be blinded by the light bulbs when you look up into the fixture. 

Accent Lighting
Kitchens today are built much larger than they use to be.  As a result you have a lot more space to play with.  Accent Lighting is not only decorative but can provide function as well.  We use ours in the event someone needs to visit the refrigerator or get a glass of water in the middle of the night but doesn’t want to completely wake up in the process. 

Small portable lamps can be placed on counters where there are no upper cabinets.  You might also be able to find one small enough to go under the upper cabinets.  These will most always have a clip on shade.  Meaning, it’s a shade that fastens to your light bulb and isn’t connected to the body of the lamp.   

Islands are great places for table or buffet lamps.  On the corner of an eating bar or an out of the way place can add some style and whimsy to your kitchen.  And if you don’t happen to have pendants above your island, a portable lamp can provide some height to the area.   

Some kitchens are built with seating areas connected.  Here you will most definitely want to either use floor lamps or table lamps if you have enough space for a side table next to your reading chair.   

Remember that you want your kitchen lighting design to be decorative AND functional.  Using a professional is always a big help but with a little research and testing the light, you can create the right mood for your own kitchen. 

-written by Holly H. Eddins


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