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Home Improvement

Create lighting scheme that works for kitchen

10/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Under-cabinet task lighting sheds light on areas where cooks do their prep work.
Photo courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection
When designing a kitchen, homeowners typically give substantial consideration to many elements of their dream design, including cabinet and countertop materials and which brand of appliances they most prefer. But few might consider the lighting for the room as thoroughly.

Lighting is an important consideration in any room, but most especially in the kitchen, where people tend to gravitate and spend a good portion of their time. The right lighting can have a dramatic effect on the functionality of the kitchen, including how the space feels when you enter it. The right blend of lights can create a vibrant mood in the kitchen, while light can be adjusted according to what needs to get done in the space.

Establishing a lighting plan in a kitchen requires a combination of different lights. The main focus should be on three distinct lighting types: task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting.

Task lighting

Task light is beneficial anywhere a person will need to perform tasks that require close concentration, such as chopping vegetables. Task lighting shines direct light onto a surface, illuminating it thoroughly, and it can be turned off when it is not needed.

Task lighting is generally placed above counters and islands where one will be slicing vegetables and preparing food. There might be lighting over the sink to illuminate dirty dishes. If a kitchen has a desk area, lighting above the desk will make that area more functional. Many task lighting designs include lights under cabinetry to shine down onto counters and eliminate shadowed recesses. Under-cabinet lighting is a relatively inexpensive add-on for existing kitchens. Homeowners can add lighting afterward to focus more light onto countertops.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is another name for all-over lighting that fills a room. During the day, ambient light might stream in from windows and skylights. However, at night, ambient lighting is created by different light fixtures in a room. In the kitchen, overhead fixtures are a popular choice for ambient lighting. A blend of hanging pendant lamps, chandeliers and recessed lighting can create the amount of light needed. Homeowners should pay special attention to the bulbs and fixtures they choose, as not all produce the same amount of light. Those concerned about energy efficiency also must give mind to whether the bulbs will use a lot of energy or last a long time. Compact fluorescent bulbs, as well as LED lighting, are long-lasting and do not use as much energy as incandescent bulbs.

Indirect ambient lighting softens shadows in a room, creating a warm, inviting glow. It is an important layer of light that is often overlooked in the kitchen. Setting ambient lighting on a dimmer enables homeowners to cast a mood that is desired when the kitchen isn’t being used for prep work.

Accent lighting

If there are key elements around the kitchen that a person would like to highlight, such as a china set, accent lighting can do the trick. Spotlights can be used to show off collectibles, while a subtle strip of lighting can illuminate a wall of artwork. Many people like to install accent lighting inside of cabinetry to create dramatic focal points.

Some homeowners might want to incorporate decorative lighting in their kitchens. This is the use of ornate chandeliers, hanging pendants and other eye-catching fixtures. Decorative lighting should be considered in proportion to the size of the kitchen. Therefore, smaller kitchens will have smaller fixtures and vice versa. Decorative lighting can be the most expensive type of kitchen lighting, so some homeowners prefer to plan ahead for the inclusion of decorative accents by having the wiring ready and then adding the fixtures over time.

Lighting in a kitchen can be just as important as which appliances and other accessories homeowners choose for their kitchens. Without the right mix of lighting, the kitchen might not be functional or inviting. 

This information was provided courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection.

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