Lighting ideas for your kitchen

Planning kitchen lighting is as important to designing and remodelling a kitchen as picking out the cabinetry and appliances is.

Melissa Davidson from The Lighting Warehouse shares a few ideas and practical tips on how to get lighting in the heart of your home right.

The biggest mistake you can make is to try to light your entire kitchen with one centrally placed fixture without considering the size of the kitchen or the different applications of lighting in different areas of the kitchen.

Although a successful kitchen lighting design need not be complex, it should be layered in order to create a warm and inviting space that can function as a cooking area, a practical workspace and an appealing entertainment area.

There are a number of suitable options out there, including fluorescent tubing, under-cabinet lighting, cabinet downlighting, recessed lighting, pendant lighting, chandeliers and wire-system lighting.

These can be divided into four broad categories: task, ambient, accent and decorative lighting.

Task lighting

Task lighting aids in the tasks that get done in the kitchen, e.g. cutting, cooking, reading and moving from one place to the other. The placement of task lighting needs to be carefully planned – if it’s misplaced, it can hinder your ability to work efficiently by casting unwanted shadows on your workspace.

Key locations for task lighting include underneath cabinets, over the island, over the hob or sink, above the kitchen table – in fact, anywhere you will be chopping, slicing, cooking, washing up, mixing, eating or reading.

The pantry is another area that requires bright, focused light. Consider installing a sensor light that switches on whenever the door is opened or, for bigger pantries, whenever somebody walks in.

Under-cabinet and under-counter lighting are great choices, as they provide bright task lighting with the light fitting neatly hidden away and out of sight. Good choices for task lighting include strip lights, T5 under-counter fluorescent tube fittings or built-in cabinet downlighters.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting can be described as the general, overall light that fills in shadows, reduces contrast and lights vertical surfaces to make the space feel lighter, airier and more inviting. It softens lines and gives a room an appealing warm glow.

Today’s kitchens are an integral part of the entertainment areas, and as such, the lighting needs to be as inviting as possible. Ideal fittings for ambient lighting include flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, pendant light fittings and adjustable wire-system lighting.

Accent lighting

With many modern kitchens being used for casual entertaining, accent lighting is becoming a more popular addition to lighting designs. It’s used to give a space a third dimension by illuminating focal features, e.g. an artwork.

Wire-system lighting, uplighters, directional eyeball lights and wall sconces are all great sources of accent lighting. You can also add LED globes to reduce the heat build-up, while saving on your electricity bill.

Decorative lighting

Decorative lighting is the proverbial “cherry on top”:  it’s the light fitting that everybody will notice and that will complement the overall decor style of the kitchen.

Ensure that the scale of the fitting you choose is right for the space: the larger the space, the bigger the light fitting will need to be, and vice versa.

Great choices for decorative lighting include chandeliers, hanging pendants and any other kind of eye-catching fittings.

Make sure they all work together

The underlying concept of any layered lighting design is to ensure that you have a variety of lighting options available at your fingertips. The easiest way to achieve this is to use multiple switches for each layer of lighting. Whatever you do, don’t put all the lighting on one switch.

Also make use of dimmer switches to control and help stage different lighting effects for different occasions.

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