How to Properly Light Your Kitchen

Creating the best lighting design for your kitchen is like cooking a great meal. You have to have the right recipe and combination of ingredients to make the meal successful. The kitchen is more than just a place to cook and consume meals. It often serves as the social hub of the household. Whether you are remodeling or have a new kitchen, you have the perfect opportunity to create a highly proficient lighting system.

Get a Lighting Professional

To make sure you whip up the best lighting scheme for your kitchen, it is essential to use a lighting professional. As with anything you do to improve your home, there are better ways to light your home than others. This is why you need a lighting specialist—to help with location, style, and whether or not to add dimmers. There are many components an expert can bring to your situation to make any room in the house more livable. Learn to consult with experts. They can save hours of research, which in turn will save you time, money and the education expense to acquire the latest knowledge in the lighting industry.

Be Prepared

When visiting a lighting showroom, be prepared. Bring a picture of your kitchen, if possible, or at least know your kitchen dimensions. How tall is the ceiling? Where are the doors? How much space is there between the cabinets and the ceiling? How much space is there between the cabinets and the countertop?

If you’re building a new kitchen, bring in a layout. A lighting consultant needs to know where everything will be- counters, cabinets, doorways. It’s critical to where you place the lighting.

Where to Begin

The right recipe for lighting your kitchen depends on the size and complexity of the room. Small kitchens may require only a central ceiling fixture and task lighting tucked under a cabinet. More elaborate kitchens will demand a blend of general, task and accent lighting. The best-tasting recipes have lots of different ingredients, and lighting is much the same. You want to layer the type and location of your lighting to support how you’re using your kitchen.

Undercabinet lighting:

Without it, you’re standing in your own shadow everywhere you try to work.

You can add undercabinet lighting to existing kitchens very easily.

Xenon lighting has continued to grow in strength as the undercabinet lighting of choice. It has the bright, pleasing tone of halogen without all of the heat, and runs in both line voltage and low voltage, so you save money on your energy bills. Xenon lighting gives good clarity of color and has the ability to be dimmed unlike fluorescent.

LED undercabinet lighting technology: Light emitting diodes, or LEDs are another new lighting technology. LEDs are exceptionally energy efficient when producing individual colors. Many use up to 90% less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light.

Ambient or fill lighting:

Flush or semi-flush mounted decorative fixtures.

Track or monorail systems with miniature elements supply fill light while directional elements provide further task lighting over an island or peninsula.

Recessed lighting is an option but can cost $100 per fixture installed due to increased labor for multiple fixtures. (Think of 5-8 of them!) Use it as an accent light to save lots of money.

Dining/Dinette Table Lighting:

Keep in mind how you’re going to be using the space. Do you use your dining table as an office? Do your kids do their homework there? If so, you need plenty of light for those activities.

Choose a decorative pendant or fixture that makes a statement of “who you are” by the style that you’ve chosen. It should be sized about 12” less in diameter than the width or diameter of your table.

Consider using a multi-light pendant or island light over a longer table, or try the trend of fixtures with an oval shape.

The fixture should hang approximately 30-34” above the table, for standard ceiling heights; raising it about three inches for every foot above the eight foot standard.

Once you have the main areas of the kitchen lit, you can add other types of light to give added warmth and appeal to your kitchen. Examples would be undercabinet, above cabinet lighting and lighting inside cabinets that have glass doors.

Energy Efficiency

If you are concerned about energy efficiency, make sure you talk with a Lighting Specialist for specific savings opportunities. Here are some options to leave more money in your checkbook:

  • Use dimmers everywhere. Dimming only 10% doubles your bulb life!
  • Switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents and they’ll use 2/3 less energy and will last up to 10 times longer. Keep in mind you will not be able to dim compact fluorescents.
  • If you don’t care for the look of fluorescent, check in with lighting professionals for the latest trends because there are new options for energy efficiency coming out all the time.

Important Points:

  • It doesn’t cost you extra money to consult a lighting specialist
  • Be up-front about what you’re looking for
  • Ask questions
  • Bring magazine photos of looks you really like with you
  • Fixtures over a raised island should be 36” over the counter top
  • Fixtures over a dining table should be 30” above & 12” narrower than the table