Shining the Light on Your Kitchen Design

Is your current kitchen equipped with one center light that casts a shadow on everything you are working on?  Lighting options have come a long way from the basic lighting plans of the 60’s and 70’s.  This article will outline the basic lighting options to consider for your new kitchen.  Your lighting plan plan will be comprised of different lighting layers and the dimmers and switches used to bring it all together.

Lighting with Layers

Task lighting brings direct light to specific work areas.  Under cabinet lighting (halogen pucks, Xenon, or fluorescent) is located directly above the counter work surface and brings the light right where you need it.  Other task lighting examples include lighting over an island, cook top or kitchen office area.

Ambient lighting provides non task-specific lighting for your new space.  Ambient lighting might be a center light fixture or  recessed lights evenly spaced throughout the kitchen.  Other examples of ambient lighting are up-lights, soffit or cabinet-top lighting.  Ambient lighting can add also add interest to your overall lighting scheme and can be quite dramatic.

Accent lighting is used to highlight a special feature in your kitchen.  Use accent lighting to bring attention to an architectural detail, art or special work area.

Decorative lighting can be the most expensive lighting element in your plan.  Decorative lighting needs to be designed in conjunction with the scale and layout of your kitchen.  Decorative lighting can include lighting elements like pendants, chandeliers or other eye catching fixtures with style.

Controlling the layers

Now that you have established the basic lighting layers for your kitchen, you need to bring it all together.  Here  are some ideas for configuring your lighting controls:

  • Use three-way switches on general lighting to provide basic lighting for access, cutting-through nighttime etc.
  • Use dimmers with preset lighting levels on all of your lights (except fluorescent)
  • Consider how you use your kitchen as you group switches together
  • Avoid grouping too many switches (more than 3) together
  • If your budget allows, consider intelligent scene lighting, that will let you set all of your light levels with one button

Consider basic functionality as you establish your new lighting scheme, then have some fun with it.  Your kitchen/lighting designer and electrician will help you find the right approach for lighting your new kitchen.