Kitchen Lighting Tips from the Professionals

Never underestimate the importance of lighting for your kitchen. Whether you’re cooking, eating, cleaning, or organizing, you will need plenty of light in the right places. Otherwise, you risk misplacing key items or leaving crumbs and liquids lying on the counter, where they can attract bugs and germs

The 3 Layers of Lighting

But if you’re like most homeowners, you probably do not fully understand how to illuminate your kitchen effectively. You can only do this if you have three layers of lighting, namely:

1. General Lighting

The simplest form of illumination for your kitchen or any other room, general lighting is any lighting that spreads through the entire space and shows off the entire kitchen design. Ceiling lights and any elevated, overhanging lamps provide this lighting, as can windows during the day. General lighting is essential if you want to move around the room safely and find items quickly.

While general lighting is usually easy to set up, you should make sure that such lights are truly illuminating the entire room. If there are any dark or dim spots, try rearranging your lights or adding new ones to fill them in. You should also replace incandescent or CFL bulbs with LED ones, as they provide more light while using less energy. These steps ensure that you have all the light you need to navigate your kitchen, day or night.

2. Task Lighting

Task lighting is lighting that illuminates particular activities. It is a must for any part of the kitchen where you will be cutting food, working with flames, or doing anything else that is difficult or dangerous in the dark. The specific area where you do this will vary based on your habits and the layout of your kitchen. Every kitchen needs to have task lights above the stove, and you will really appreciate having them below your wall cabinets as well.

3. Accent Lighting

Whether you use marble, granite, tile, or wood, you want the beautiful materials and designs of your kitchen to stand out and catch the eye. Accent lighting illuminates these features, enhancing the beauty of the entire room. You can establish clear accent lighting by hanging small pendants in key places around the kitchen, thereby calling attention to the most important features.

The most effective kitchen designs use accent lighting to complement the other two types of lighting, making your kitchen more beautiful in the process. If your general lighting does not fully extend to certain areas of the kitchen, you should provide as much accent lighting as possible in those areas. Likewise, arrange task lighting to bring out particularly stunning parts of your countertops, wall tiles, or any other focal points in your kitchen. This way, you can enjoy their beauty while working with all of the light you need.

Color Temperature and Rendering

Light from lamps is measured by lumens, and the output amount depends on the wattage of the lamp. The colors that these lights emit are measured by correlated color temperature (CCT) and color rendering index (CRI.)

Correlated Color Temperature

CCT is measured by the color that the lamp illuminates in terms of warmness or coolness, denoted by Kelvin. When the color temperature is 3000K or lower, the source of the light is considered warm in appearance. The light will appear white or yellow in this case, and is perfect when you are going for a warm, inviting kitchen look. When the color temperature is higher than 3000K the light source will have more of blue color, and can be incorporated into a modern kitchen.

Color Rendering Index

CRI is a slightly more complicated measuring system. It describes the effect that the light has on objects that it bounces off of. 100 is the maximum a CRI can be, and refers to how natural the object looks when the light touches it. To understand CRI more in-depth, visit here for more information.

Putting CCT and CRI to Good Use

  • Keep it Standard: When you are mixing and matching different types of lamps, use ones that have the same CCT rating. It will allow you to keep the lighting throughout your kitchen more even in color and appearance.
  • Types of Lamps: The best color in your kitchen has historically been lamps with a CCT of 2700 to 3500. In CRI terms, try for a CRI rating of 8 or higher, which is considered the level that produces the most natural lighting.
  • Think about Reflections: Your kitchen is full of different textures and surfaces. Think of the different ways that your light will bounce off these different areas. For example, your countertop will likely reflect light much more strongly than your cupboards, which will absorb it. If you have dark countertops or a darker-colored kitchen, you might consider brighter lighting for the space.
  • Keep Height in Mind: Your kitchen counter should have about 30 to 32 inches between its surface and the lowest light fixture in your kitchen. You will eliminate space issues when you are working in the area and create the least amount of glare while still creating a well-lit area.
  • Choose a Focal Point: People’s eyes will be naturally drawn to where light is focused. If you want a certain focal point in your kitchen to be emphasized, create lighting centered on or around that area in order to pull the eye toward it.

LED Lighting: The Latest and Greatest in Kitchen Lighting

Good lighting is essential to the kitchen, creating a focus whether you are on the outside looking in or on the inside work. So, just why has LED become the gold standard of lighting for kitchens? Here are 3 reasons why it is clear to see how LED has become the hottest ticket in kitchen lighting:

LEDs last

In some cases, you see LEDs last for up to 50,000 hours (that’s roughly 6 years straight if you left them on all day).

LEDs offer a variety of light

Not only does the lighting do a much better job than fluorescent, but their slim, flexible offering also fits just about anywhere, providing you with traditional lighting options as well as options for under cabinets, inside cabinets, and more. By combining a variety of lighting styles, you can create the necessary layers of light needed to properly illuminate your kitchen. TIP: look for LEDs classified as “daylight”.

LEDs stay cool

In the past when placing lights inside of or underneath cabinets, there was always the fear of how hot the fixture or contained space would get. Today’s LEDs run cool and lower the temperature on concerns that other lighting sources like halogen create.

Lighting is a critical element to any design, be it the kitchen, bath or any space of the home. And LED lighting is finding its way into other areas as well as part of showerheads, faucets and other elements of the home. Sony just announced that they put a Bluetooth speaker in an LED light bulb (cue Fall Out Boy theme song). Don’t miss your chance to “light em up” in the kitchen and throughout your entire home!

Reico offers expert advice on lighting, accents, and all other aspects of kitchen design.

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