Kitchen Design: Let there be Light!

By Sue LeVee, Kitchen Designer

In a previous article I talked about accent lighting, a subject that I am a bit obsessive about:
This time I want to discuss all 3 types of kitchen lighting – there is hardly a kitchen remodel that doesn’t involve adding lighting. I guess we used to cook in the dark!
A well designed kitchen will incorporate 3 types of lighting: Ambient, Task, and Accent.

Ambient Lighting: This is the general, overall light in the room. Typically it is provided by a central overhead fixture that casts a glow throughout the kitchen. However, the variety of can lights now available allows homeowners to forgo that central fixture and use all recessed lighting. Track lighting is another option, especially when electric hook-ups are limited. Sunlight from the kitchen windows provides hours of natural ambient light. Even light coming from another room contributes to a kitchen’s ambient lighting.

Task Lighting: Want to measure out cinnamon, chop celery, or even do homework? Then you need task lighting. I think of it as lighting that is brighter and more focused – lighting that allows you to read a recipe card. Task lighting should be placed above every work station and prep area. Your sink and range should always have dedicated fixtures, as well as your major prep areas(s).  The American Lighting Association offers some great guidelines:
Remember – it might feel like it, but not everything happens at your island. Include under-cabinet lights so you can comfortably work on your countertops anywhere in your kitchen. There are so many options available – choose a fixture that will meet your needs as well as compliment your décor!

Accent Lighting: For a kitchen designer, this is the most fun! Accent lighting is where the excitement comes in. We use it to draw attention to a specific focal point, or anywhere we want to add drama or interest. There are so many lighting options available, and many of them are inexpensive. I say “One LED strip light: $29.95; Dramatic effect: Priceless”.  If I could, I would put them everywhere – above the cabinets, below the cabinets, inside the cabinets, even under the countertop overhang!
*And here is something to keep in mind: When you are lighting the inside of a cabinet, you can go two ways. First, if you are using glass shelves, then a single puck at the top of the cabinet is all you will need to light the whole interior (same for lighting your wine rack cabinet). However, if you are keeping your wood shelves, then you will need to run your fixture from the top to the bottom of the cabinet, (like an LED strip), or plan on multiple fixtures.

Just a few final thoughts…
Plan ahead! Lighting needs electricity, so when you are working on your floor plan, make sure you include power access where you will need it.
And lastly, Dimmers! Dimmers can change the whole atmosphere of your kitchen, and now dimmers are much more readily available than ever before.
See more inspiring lighting at:

Posted by Sue LeVee – 
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