Kitchen Lighting Design

Kitchen lighting is a very important design element that enables you and your family to create an environment in which you can cook, eat, and enjoy yourselves. Your kitchen lighting lets you not only see your beautiful kitchen, but it also helps you cut, chop, read, write and many other tasks you do on a day to day basis.

Begin Designing My Dream Kitchen! Start by drawing a floor plan of your kitchen, and noting the areas that will need what types of lighting. Do you need task lighting by a desk, or over an island? Do you want ambient lighting over a table? Examine each of these specified areas and ask yourself the following: What type of lighting categories will you need in these areas?

  • Task Lighting: If this is the place you will be chopping food, using hot pans, or washing fruits and vegetables, you will want it well lit so you can see what you are doing and prevent any accidents due to low lighting. A good way to achieve this is with some sort of pendant light or under-counter task lighting directly over the area, in addition to your general overall lighting above.
    Under-counter vary in their bulb type. Halogen bulbs, for example, tend to get extremely hot, and can be dangerous to touch. Florescent stays cool, however the light it creates and the fixture styles may not be as nice. An alternative to these would be something like the Xenon puck lights, which offer a lower heat emission then Halogen bulbs, as well as the ability to touch them with your bare hands, unlike Halogen bulbs. Another detail to remember is that the only part of task lighting you should see is the light. You may want to add a small lip to the bottom edge of your upper cabinetry in order to hide the actual fixture itself from eyesight.
  • Ambient Lighting: This type of lighting creates a mood, or ambiance of an area. For instance, if you prefer a low lit, intimate meal, you would like to have more of a soft, light surrounding you, rather than a bright, sharp task light. This can be achieved with the type of fixture and what its bulb wattage is, as well as with your light controls on a dimmer switch. The dimmer switch has an advantage of versatility, this way you can enjoy your intimate dinners in low light, or read the paper in a bright light.
  • Accent Lighting: In order to highlight a particular area, accent lighting can be another great layer in your kitchen lighting scheme. Maybe you have a fine china cabinet with items you would like to display. Using rope lighting that runs horizontally in the front corners of the cabinet can nicely display these items as well as give off an ethereal glow to the cabinet. If you don’t want to show off the contents of your cabinets, another nice element is using an opaque decorative glass or resin insert in the cabinet door, and then using the rope lighting to create a glow behind them. Just make sure when dealing with rope lighting, that you properly detail and examine just how it will lay. Take into account if your shelves leave enough room to run them, as well as if they need a small lip on the side to hide the actual rope. The key to this sort of lighting is to see the light, not the mechanism.
    What decorative lighting works for these areas? Now that we have taken care of the “form follows function” rule to lighting design, and we know our areas will be lit properly, let’s review some steps to selecting decorative fixtures that will fill the space without interfering with it.
  • Chandeliers: Chandelier lighting looks great over a dining table, and as mentioned above, it can create a sense of ambient light, as well as offer the use of task lighting when it is connected to a dimmer switch. Placing your chandelier over a dining table is very important so that it does not get in the way when sitting at the table. Chandeliers work best with ceiling heights of 8’0 or higher. The rule of thumb is that the bottom of the chandelier should hang 30” above the table. The chandelier over the table should also be at least 12 inches narrower (smaller in diameter) than a dining room table. Otherwise, people could bump their heads when standing up.
  • Pendant Lights: Pendants are single fixtures that hang from a long extension. This extension can be a cord, or a pole or anything else depending on the style of the fixture. Pendant lights are a great choice for over a kitchen island since they illuminate the work space with extra task lighting, as well as add to the décor of your kitchen. (kitchen_lighting_pendents)
  • Semi-Flush Mounts: A semi flush mount is a good choice for a ceiling that is too low for a chandelier, but is high enough so that it does not need a flush mount fixture. ( a ceiling height of about 8’ – 10’ is a good height for a semi-flush mount fixture depending on the height of the fixture) Semi-flush light fixtures are a great source of ambient light for a kitchen, and tend to stand out more then a flush mount fixture.
  • Flush Mounts: A flush mount fixture is an ideal and sometimes an only option for kitchens with lower ceiling heights. Typically, a ceiling height of 8’0 or below calls for a flush mount fixture. A flush mount light fixture runs flush with the ceiling and allows for a decorative fixture, without interference with the space below. Flush mount fixtures look great in rooms with a bit of a higher ceiling as well.
  • Sconces: Sconces can be a bit tricky in a kitchen since typically a lot of the wall space is taken up by cabinetry or furniture. Although scones can be a great decorative touch, you want to make sure there is a purpose to having lighting in the particular area that you install them. If you just have some extra wall space to fill, sconces may not be the right answer. A great place for sconces in the kitchen is in a niche area or on either side of a sink. Sconces in a kitchen should look like they fit into that space for a purpose.

Lighting a kitchen is one of the most important areas in a home to properly design your lighting scheme. The tasks in this room change from location to location and need to be accommodating no matter what you are working on and in which area of the room. Decorative fixtures in the kitchen will enhance and solidify your overall design and style as well. It is a fun and creative way to add personal touches to your kitchen and home.