Kitchen Lighting Basics

Kitchen Lighting Basics

You can have a beautifully designed kitchen with all your favourite materials, but if the space isn’t properly lit, it will not be as impactful as you’d like. Explore this handy guide to help you select the right lighting for your kitchen.   

Lighting 101

There are three general types of lighting in a kitchen: ambient (to light the entire space), task (to light a surface) and accent (to highlight a cabinet or feature). The ideal lighting scenario in a kitchen is to keep ambient and task lighting at a minimum. Also, consider the option of LED lights as they emit minimal heat and use less energy. Place different types of lights on different circuits so that you can turn them off and on independently. Adding dimmers is another great way to change the lighting environment in your kitchen.    

Pot lights or central fixture

Your kitchen needs to be lit with ambient lights that fill the majority of the space with light.  There are a few options that work for kitchens, one being the use of a single, central fixture in the space. This, however, only works if it is paired with additional task lighting. A recommended option is to have pot lights installed in a grid pattern, or even placed more directly over the countertops throughout the kitchen. Pot lights need to be placed about four feet apart to supply adequate lighting.  

Under cabinet

Under-cabinet lighting is a must-have for every modern and sophisticated kitchen. These provide task lighting to your countertops, and without them, your countertops can be covered in shadow, making kitchen chores like cutting or mixing very challenging. There are a few different under-cabinet lighting options: recessed puck lights (small pot lights), LED strip lights and surface-mounted puck lights.  

Over sink

Every sink area needs a task light. Often the sink is by a window or in an island, so you need to consider the type of fixture to install based on its location. If your sink is in front of an operable window, you probably don’t want to hang a pendent light from a cable, as it may start moving with a breeze. As such, a pot light or pendent with a rod is a great alternative.

Island lighting

Islands are an amazing multipurpose space in any kitchen. There are a couple of lighting options for kitchen islands: you can install pot lights directly over the island (which can be incorporated into the entire kitchen’s pot light grid); or you can place pendent lights over the island for function and aesthetics. To decide which is best for you, determine if pendants would hinder any view you want showcased. Generally you want the base of a pendant light to be at least six feet above the floor so most people can see under them.      

Lighting in cabinets

Pot lights inside glass cabinet doors are a stunning way to highlight treasured dishware, art or valuables. This accent lighting has no practical value, but it does add to overall aesthetics. The main consideration is to ensure the chosen light source emits low heat as it is in an enclosed space.     

For those who want to go the extra mile, there are some less common areas in a kitchen that can also have lighting, such as toe-kicks, backsplashes, drawers and cabinets, to name a few. Keep in mind that a telltale sign of having too much light is when it takes away from the beauty of the cabinets, countertops or backsplash. Your kitchen is lit well when there are no shadows on work surfaces, the room is bright and your feature elements are highlighted.

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