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The Four Elements of Kitchen Lighting

When undergoing a kitchen remodel, one of the most important features (that is often given little thought) is determining how to light the kitchen.  As Randall Whitehead, a nationally known designer one said, “Lighting is often the last thing considered in a [kitchen] design and the first thing cut from a budget.”  Often, more attention is put towards the cabinet configuration and the finishes, but that is all for naught if the kitchen lighting does not show off the space or function properly.  Here is a breakdown of the main types of lighting and how to place them in your space.

 

Ambient Lighting:

Ambient lighting is basically the general illumination of the space. Ambient light is often made up of the lights that you turn on when you flip a switch to enter a room.  This softens the room and allows for a warm glow in the space that is instantly welcoming. The best way to attain ambient lighting is with recessed lights. However, be mindful of the placement of the recessed lights. Just putting those in a grid pattern on the ceiling often leaves pockets of over-lit or under-lit areas that create unwelcoming shadows.  Instead, place the recessed lights where they are needed, i.e. directly over countertops, at entry points of the space, in front of large appliances, etc.

 

Task Lighting:

Task lighting is essentially lighting that facilitates in doing a task, hence the name. In a living room or bedroom, task lighting would be a reading lamp by the bed. In the kitchen, the most common task lighting is undercabinet lighting. Undercabinet lights provide more light to the countertop surfaces so that knife cuts are safer, food prep is easier, and reading recipes is a breeze. Plus, they look really pretty when the rest of the lights in the room are off, doubling as mood lighting as well as task lighting.  Pendant lights over an island are another form of task lighting, as they illuminate the work surface, but they could also be categorized under Decorative Lighting (bottom).

 

Accent Lighting:

Accent lighting highlights different areas of the space and brings the eye around the room. In a living room, it may be a track light directed at a piece of art to show off the piece.  In a kitchen, a favorite spot for accent lighting is inside glass-front cabinets. The light inside the cabinet offers as glow as well as a way to show off what is inside the glass-fronted cabinet.  It is a small detail that can add a high level of sophistication and complexity to a lighting plan.

 

Decorative Lighting:

Decorative lighting is made up of the pieces you really want to show off in a space.  Some call it the “jewelry” of lighting. A decorative light is a type of light that is just as important in look as it is in function, if not more so. As previously mentioned, pendant lights over an island are a form of decorative light. The way the pendants look have a huge impact on the way the space looks, but also serve a purpose to illuminate the island or table surface.  Pendant lights look best in groups of three, but keep in mind that scale always wins over the Rule of Three. For more great info on how to configure pendant lights, click here.

 

If all four types of lighting can be incorporated, the kitchen lighting will have layers of lighting that will work together to create a harmonious, welcoming, and refined space that everyone will love!

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