Optimize Your Kitchen Lighting
If you wait until the last minute to consider your lighting needs when you are remodeling your kitchen, you may repeat some of the mistakes you have lived with all these years. Installing a single ceiling light fixture in the center of your kitchen creates unwelcome shadows over your work space as you try to prepare meals. Another oversight would be to install ceiling cans around the perimeter of the kitchen without carefully considering where the beams of light will contact the various surfaces in the room. If you place the ceiling cans too close to the kitchen cabinets, for example, you may create uneven scallops of light on the surface of the cabinets, as well as shadows in the middle of the room.
Good lighting design is developed simultaneously with the rest of your kitchen remodeling plans. It takes into account the following three separate layers of light that work in concert to achieve the optimal lighting experience. Ideally, these layers should be switched individually.
1. Ambient — This is the general illumination of your kitchen that allows you to see well enough to move about the room confidently and safely. The ceiling mounted fluorescent boxes that used to be the standard fixture used for this purpose are out. The most popular choices today are ceiling cans and large surface mounted fixtures. Chandeliers may also be used for ambient lighting.
2. Task — This is lighting that helps you perform tasks in your kitchen, such as meal preparation, cooking and work space clean up. For obvious reasons, when you are wielding a sharp knife you want your work space sufficiently bright, but free of glare so you can clearly see what you are doing. The same thing is true when you are stirring a bubbling pot of soup on the stove. Task lighting is usually provided by under-cabinet lights or pendants over an island.
3. Accent — This is the lighting that emphasizes the little details that make your kitchen look exceptional. It can include the spotlight that accentuates a large painting hanging on the wall, as well as the several small pucks installed behind glass cabinet doors to highlight your favorite crockery. Recessed cove lighting is accent lighting that creates visual interest on a ceiling.
As you are planning your lighting, take into account that highly reflective surfaces will impact your lighting design. You should avoid placing fixtures in a location where the light will reflect off your polished granite countertop, causing an uncomfortable glare in the eyes of anyone seated at the kitchen island.
It is also important to consider how your age, and the ages of others living in your home, may influence the amount of light necessary in your kitchen. In order to see clearly enough to read recipes or the instructions on food packages, most older adults need three to four times more light than they did when they were younger.