6 Kitchen Lighting Design Tips

Lighting is an art form. People study for years to learn how best to light theater stages, movie sets, retail stores and yes, even houses. And in fact, the same principles that apply to lighting the Ed Mirvish Theater in downtown Toronto apply to lighting your humble kitchen. As residential electricians know, you need to think in complementary terms when lighting the kitchen. That means the different aspects of the lighting scheme need to feed off of and inform one another. They should also be able to hold their own even if all the other lights in the kitchen have been turned off. It’s not easy to do, but it’s not impossible either and below we’ll provide you with half a dozen tips to make it happen.


Devise the Lighting Plan


An effective lighting scheme for the kitchen will typically involve setting up four layers and then blending them together. Those four layers are comprised of ambient lighting, accent lighting, task lighting and decorative lighting. When done right these four components should create a warm and welcoming atmosphere while also enabling safe and effective food preparation, service and cleanup.


Plan Your Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is indirect lighting. Often called “fill lighting” it’s intended to bring soft, unobtrusive light into shadows. Essentially its job is to prevent the other aspects of the lighting scheme from creating any harsh lighting effects. Ambient light fixtures can take many forms. They may be flush-mounted ceiling lights, lights on the underside of cabinets or fully adjustable track lights that can be directed to bring soft, subtle light effects wherever needed. When other aspects of the lighting scheme are turned off the ambient light alone will provide the kitchen with a pleasing glow.


Determine What Task Lights You Need


The kitchen is the most task-oriented room in the house. Everything from food storage to food prep to food service and cleanup all need ample room and all need to be properly illuminated. As much for safety’s sake as for any aesthetic reason. Essentially, anywhere in the kitchen where you will be slicing, cutting, working with hot items or reading needs to have a dedicated task light. These task lights may be pendants over an island, a bright light in the vent hood over the stove or lighting under cabinets that can double as ambient lighting. Residential electricians can help you in determining the best placement of task lights.


Use Accents to Create Visual Interest

Whereas task lighting is purely practical accent lighting is purely aesthetic. The job of accent lights is to create focal points, make the space seem larger, highlight an important piece of art or even call attention to heirlooms inside glass cabinets. The value of accent lighting should never be overlooked as it is what provides the kitchen with contextual balance. In other words it says “Yes the kitchen is a work space, but it’s also a living space”. Without it the kitchen would be a far less interesting space.


Indulge in Decorative Lighting


With most light fixtures the emphasis is on what they do. With decorative fixtures, the emphasis is just as much on what they are. For instance, a chandelier over the kitchen table may well provide light for diners, but it should also be a beautiful and interesting object in and of itself. Even if you never turn them on (which of course you will quite often) the pendants over the kitchen island should add something to the overall design of the kitchen.


Don’t Forget the Dimmers

Dimmer switches have become one of the most important components of any lighting scheme. First, because they help you save energy and second because they allow you to fine tune the lighting scheme in your kitchen (or your living room or your bedroom) to an exacting degree. Toss in the specter of LED lights and you can now attain a level of control over the various elements of your kitchen lighting plan that was previously impossible.


The Final Word


Your local electrical contractors can help you perfect a new lighting scheme for your kitchen that will transform it into the safest, most intelligently lit and more visually compelling room in the house.