Lighting plays an important role in our lives so how do you know which lights you need in your kitchen? One of my pet peeves is websites (and stores too) selling products based on their look and feel. To show you how silly this is, think about how much time you spend looking up at your light fixtures? You don't!
We might notice a nice chandelier when we enter the dining room, until we sit down. Then we're looking at friends at the table, the food being served, maybe a nice painting on the wall or a view out the window. We aren't staring up at the chandelier. While the style of the chandelier should reflect your personality and decorating style, the most important feature of any light fixture is the lighting it provides.
Lighting Fills an Important Role
More than any other room in your home, the kitchen illustrates how each light has a role to play. To really appreciate this, turn all your kitchen lights off some evening and the room will fill very different. At my house, we leave the small light over the sink on all the time – it serves as a night light that guides us whether we're coming into the house, or downstairs for a midnight snack.
So where exactly does kitchen lighting belong?
- General room lighting – is found up on the ceiling. These light fixtures hug the ceiling or it's common to use “cans” which are recessed into the ceiling so they don't take up visual space while providing basic room lighting.
- Task lighting – provides light where you work, i.e. over the kitchen sink and those nice lights under upper kitchen cabinets insure you have enough light when working on the counter top because you're body blocks most of the room lighting when you're standing there.
- Accent lighting – as it's name suggests, is meant for decoration. These lights add to your kitchen's personality and help create a mood, especially when you put them on a dimmer. Depending on your kitchen space and budget, new accent lighting ideas include over-cabinet lighting to expand your visual space and/or toe-kick lighting at the bottom of your base cabinets that make the cabinets appear to float.
In order to make the best use of your lighting, carefully plan your light switches.
Now I want to remind you we've focused on where you want to add lighting to your kitchen and how you'll use the light. It's important to have a lighting design strategy before you start picking out light fixtures. If you feel something just isn't right in your current kitchen, do a quick assessment of the room – do you have enough light illumination at the ceiling. List your top 5 kitchen activities and where they happen. Do you have enough task lighting for each activity? Still not sure? Turn on all your lights, take some photos and visit a lighting store to get some expert help.
A Video Tells the Lighting Story
Rather than share from my stash of photos, I found this video that tells the same story and never talks about the light fixtures.