Letting The Light Shine In: Tips For Lighting Up The Kitchen

The lighting you choose for your kitchen is more important than you might think. Not only does lighting contribute to visibility, but it can also influence your perception of the room and how you feel when you are in there. For these reasons, it's important that your kitchen lighting be given ample consideration, whether you are doing a full remodel or just making improvements.

Considering Layers

There is no single lighting fixture that can provide all of the lighting you need in a kitchen. Some fixtures can serve multiple purposes, though. Here's a look at the functional lighting layers you should consider when choosing your fixtures for the kitchen.

Directed Task Lighting

Task lighting is targeted, providing light to your counters, work areas and stovetop. You'll also want some task lighting in the pantry to illuminate the shelving.

Ambient Lighting

Indirect fixtures that bounce light from the ceiling and fill the room are considered ambient lighting fixtures. They cast a broad sweep of light throughout the room, not just in specific areas. Place ambient lighting fixtures throughout the room to help dissipate shadows. Dark corners can make a kitchen appear dim and can add an element of harshness to targeted lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lights help you add a sense of depth to the kitchen. Add some track lighting or recessed fixtures in the main area of the kitchen so that you can target extra light throughout the room. This will help to brighten key areas and add some subtle shadowing for a sense of dimension.

You'll want a balance of all of these lighting types for a properly balanced kitchen. If you opt only for ambient lighting, you'll find that the room feels flat despite the clear light in the main area. If you choose only to use accent lights, it will create a display effect, where lighting is focused solely on the cabinets and counters instead of in the work area. An electrician can help you wire your kitchen to integrate each of these lighting types.

Other Tips for Optimizing Lighting

Once you determine what kinds of lights you need, there are other steps you can take to optimize your investment. Here are some other tips that will help you to add nuanced light and capitalize on the available fixtures.

Make the Most of Your Pendant Lights

If you are investing in pendant lights to cast light on a kitchen island, opt for a couple of larger pendants instead of many small ones. The larger pendants will cast more widespread lighting throughout the space.

Create Contrast with Different Shapes

When you are placing lighting fixtures around the kitchen, choosing different shapes for your lights can create some contrast in each area of the room. Opt for track lighting with round fixtures in one area and then drum or box-shaped lighting in another.

Cast Light on the Cabinets

Choose glass-front cabinets for your kitchen, then add directional accent lights over the cabinets. This will create a warm glow at the cabinet level, which can brighten up the entire space. It also allows you to spotlight pottery or china, if you want an added decorative touch.

Don't Discount the Value of Lower Lighting

If you focus only on lighting overhead and at eye level, your room will still appear flat. Add some dimension in the room by installing toe kick lighting, or lights underneath your cabinets. These lights are typically directed at the floor, making a great nightlight as well. Under-counter lights are another great investment. These lights will mount to the lip of the counter top, shedding light in dark drawers.

The brighter your kitchen, the more inviting it is likely to be. And, when you can see clearly, it'll be easier to cook and host gatherings. Work with an electrician to ensure that the wiring and fixtures of your kitchen will support the lighting that you want for your kitchen space.