Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kitchen Lighting


We are still in the process of renovating our kitchen. Now that some of the cabinets are in and drywall is ready to be installed its time to look at our kitchen lighting. Lighting for your kitchen is probably one of the most important considerations when changing the layout or even enhancing the kitchen you currently have.

There are three categories of lighting to consider whenever you are renovating or designing any room.

General Lighting

This lighting is designed to brighten the room enough to walk around safely. Commonly this will be ceiling fixtures, track lighting or recessed lights.

Task Lighting

This is the most important lighting in a kitchen. You will want to install it anywhere you have a working surface. For example, counters need lateral light for food preparation, and sink and stove areas need down light for more precise tasks.

Decorative Lighting

A kitchen may not require this type of lighting, however; if you have have wall sconces or other ambient light, it would be considered decorative, meaning it does not provide specific lighting for a need, but more for the look and design of the room.


Our kitchen will have both General and Task lighting installed. Since opening up our ceiling would add many more hours to the renovation, we our going to utilize track lighting for the ceiling. Each fixture provides 4 directional halogen bulbs that we can direct to different areas of the room.

With no upper cabinets being installed the kitchen will be brighter, with less shadows on the countertop. However; having task lights for working surfaces is very important. We will be installing 2 small halogen puck lights underneath each open shelf, a pendant light above the sink, and our new hood fan has integrated halogen lighting for the stove top.

The Most Common Mistakes

Many of my clients that have attempted to create there own lighting plans for kitchen renovations encounter these three common mistakes.

Attempting to light the kitchen with one ceiling fixture mounted in the middle of your room. Not only does a single light source become “glare” any time you look into the kitchen, but also you don’t get the light you need on your countertops. Every time you bend forward to do work on your countertops you are working in your own shadow.

Planning a recessed lighting layout in a grid pattern without any relationship to your cabinet plan or lighting needs. The first question to ask when planning your lighting is: "why light?" Once you know why, then you can plan the type of light you need.

Not planning for adequate wall space to locate your lighting controls. Many times a full height refrigerator end panel is placed too close to a room entry. Other times there is a tall cabinet placed nearest to the entry. In each of these examples there is no room to place the lighting controls.