Light is an essential component to every room, but it’s more than picking a few lamps and plugging them in. Lighting can affect how you experience your rooms, more than just making a room less dark so you can see.
For kitchens, lighting is important since you are dealing with heat, water and also preparing food which involves sharp tools. In this sense, lighting is most important in this space for safety reasons. The way someone lights their kitchen becomes a different process and investment than lighting, say, a bedroom or living room.
There are vital points to cover when thinking of kitchen lighting that is not obvious in most interior design.
Night Time Standards
Do you cook at night? You should consider lighting near your stove if your range hood doesn’t already have a dedicated light. Can you read a recipe with the accent lighting on your walls or are you struggling? Are you doing everything at night with a night light? In these cases, your kitchen needs more lighting for you to function well in your kitchen.
At night, don’t rely on the lone light of your open refrigerator as your only available light.
When people think about their kitchens, they usually think about that setting in the day. They think about how the sunlight illuminates the room and how a bright kitchen becomes even brighter in the day. However, forgetting about the kitchen at night leaves that interior starkly dark to the point where it’s unwelcoming.
Even the ever-popular white shaker cabinets are not exempt from this. During natural sunlight, they will illuminate the kitchen and make space feel bigger. At night time without proper lighting, white cabinets will feel like any other color cabinet. No matter the color cabinet you have, proper lighting should be exhibited to properly light the kitchen for best conditions during the day and night.
More Than A Bulb
Think about how you light your den or your garage: You probably have one general light for the room. In your bedroom or study, maybe you have a table lamp on a nightstand or desk for reading. Unless you have a cozy kitchen (about 70 square feet or less), a single ceiling light bulb will not be enough. Even then, smaller kitchens still have a couple of recessed or pendant lights to illuminate the room.
If you have a kitchen space combined with a dining area, you need one light dedicated to your dining space. If you think this is too much light in the room, dimmer switches are helpful to control the intensity. It’s better to have brighter light that can be reduced rather than not enough light that can’t be increased.
What about having a single large bar of fluorescent light in the kitchen? While this is certainly an option, fluorescent can be harsh and glaring, despite its brightness. There are also more energy-efficient lights available and alternatives can save on your energy bill.
Accent Lighting VS Ambient Lighting
Not all lighting is designed equally. Not all lighting is meant to light up an entire room.
Light designers all often talk about painting with light, not just lighting a space. The lights you choose will affect how the color looks on your walls, cabinets and other structures. Lights have brightness but they also have temperatures: there is warm and cool lighting that can affect how the colors look in your kitchen.
While accent lights are smaller and brighter, they serve as spotlights for an object or area you want to highlight. Meanwhile ambient light illuminates a room in the overall space, meant to be general for visibility. While a few accent lights are decorative in your kitchen, they won’t provide the same visibility as a lamp.
Examples of accent lights are LED fairy lights and puck lights. Ambient light examples include pendant lights and floor lamps.
There is another type of lighting that falls between accent and ambient lighting called task lighting. This is lighting focused on a specific area that is your “workspace.” Examples of this include the light from your range hood for cooking or a desk lamp over a table.
Kitchen wall cabinets are usually located above either base cabinets with countertops or table surfaces. Installing under cabinet lights adds more light in the middle of the room which can reflect off the backsplash and counter. This is an advantage of making the kitchen brighter because it depends less on ceiling lights to illuminate the whole space. Usually, electrical outlets are close to these areas for small appliances but they work just as well for undercabinet lighting.
There are different under cabinet lighting options with strengths for the effect you want. Puck lights are great for spotlighting certain items and areas and they work best in rows. Lightbars serve can serve as task lights if you are using your counter space like a desk. LED tape lights are small and bright and can be versatile accent lights that can even change color.
What makes under cabinet lighting great is it easily changes the look of the kitchen with little cost and maximum effectiveness.
Bright Mood in the Kitchen
Lights have brightness but also have temperatures: Warm and cool lighting can affect how the colors look in your kitchen.
Light that replicates morning light and has a tint of yellow or amber are considered warm lights. They bring warmth and even appetite into a space. You’ll see this more of this light if you live in a cooler climate balancing the atmosphere with needed warmth. Types of light that bring this into your space are incandescent lights and candlelight.
Light that replicates the bright blue sky or light with a slight blue tint is a cool light. They are brighter than their warm counterparts and have a clean feel to them. You’ll see more of this light if you live in a warm climate.
So cool lights show off color very well but warm lights lend to an air of a warm kitchen.
Unfazed by Fads
Every season in kitchen design, there are preferred light fixtures to work with. Right now, as we are entering 2020, pendant light fixtures are getting a lot of attention in kitchen design. For other seasons, you’ll see recessed lights or track lights become more dominant in décor magazines. Ultimately any lighting works in the kitchen; it’s more important the area is well-lit rather than a specific light fixture type.
So never worry if recessed lights are rarely used ten years from now if they are installed in your kitchen. Worry more if the bulbs are bright enough or if you feel there is not enough general light. You can always add more lighting sources if you need them.