“Up, down and all around.” I use this little saying to make sure I have addressed all the required elements when I’m planning a lighting design. Sounds simple, but it really does work.
4. Build in a prep sink. If your kitchen has the space, try a dedicated prep sink to keep eggshells, vegetable peelings and more out of the main cooking area.
Another important aspect of lighting a space for those with diminishing eyesight is visual cuing. Visual cuing provides an additional reference point for judging distance or depth when entering a space or approaching objects. The lighting at the base of these cabinets, or toe-kick lighting, contrasts well with the dark floor and midtone cabinetry, creating a readily visible contrast. But people will just think it’s cool.
While increasing light levels is important, it is equally important to minimize glare. Use matte finishes to reduce light flares and glare.
I’ve always loved to cook. My stove gets a daily workout, my recipe books number in the hundreds, and I have so many pots, dishes and kitchen gadgets that I rotate them in and out of storage. With enthusiasm comes a price, however: an unruly mess that somehow has overtaken every flat surface by the time I untie my apron.
My husband, who is of the clean-as-you-go school of cooking, is mystified at how I can use every one of our five sauté pans, or three different sets of measuring spoons, to make a single meal. Honestly, so am I — I’m not sure I could tell you exactly when the jumble hits critical mass. But since the kitchen in our suburban split level has less counter space than some New York apartment kitchens I’ve seen, I suppose it’s time to get the clutter under control.
Countertops are often the culprits in causing glare. If you prefer stone countertops, consider those that are honed to reduce reflection and glare.
3. Choose an extra-large sink. As cooking progresses, dirty dishes mount. An oversize sink can corral them and keep them below eye level. Apron-front and single-bowl models work especially well.
This kitchen showcases most of the types of lighting discussed. There’s up lighting in the cove above the soffit and downlighting from the pendants over the peninsula and pot lights in the soffit. It also has toe-kick lighting, a nice contrast of material colors with low sheen and lots of natural light.
Downlighting is just that: lighting that shines down to illuminate a space. Down lighting can sometimes be referred to as general lighting. Once it was simply the only light source in a room — that single fixture in the middle of the ceiling. If this is your only option, placement and quantity of fixtures are the keys to attaining a balanced lighting level while reducing dark corners. Pot lights are also considered downlighting.
Let’s look at a few lighting solutions, starting with the kitchen.
8. Slip in a portable island. As in my case, messy cooks often lack enough counter space for spreading out. A small island on casters can be amazingly effective at extending the work area. Why haven’t I tried this yet?
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Consider soapstone or concrete as well. Concrete countertops in particular are becoming more and more popular for all kinds of areas in the house, and there is no shine to them at all.
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Task lighting, including undercabinet lghting, is one of the single most important lighting specifications for any project, in my opinion. It puts the light where you need it most. In a kitchen it would be under the cabinet, where the light is in front of you, illuminating the surface and its objects, and not behind you, creating shadows.
Pendants can also be considered task lighting.
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We all know by now that drawers are by far more functional and accessible than cabinets with doors. How about shedding some light inside your drawers? Another great use for task lighting! You won’t have to search too long for a spoon when that midnight snack craving strikes.
6. Store utensils in crocks. Not only do crocks keep wooden spoons, tongs and spatulas tidy, but they also keep tools close at hand so they’re a cinch to grab when you need them.
2. Build in trash receptacles. I’m a little squeamish about keeping a trash can right in my kitchen (yes, I know people do it all the time). So mine stays in the garage, and I gather trash and food scraps in a small grocery bag that I carry outside when I’m done cooking. It’s not the most efficient or attractive solution, I freely admit.
If your cabinets don’t go to the ceiling, consider adding lights above the cabinets. Using a more powerful light source, such as a T5 fluorescent, increases the reflectivity of the ceiling, thereby increasing the light in the room.
7. Double up on dishwashers. Ample dishwasher space means you can tuck dirty dishes in as you go (or, if you’re like me, try to remember to do it). In a pinch you can also keep a cooler full of hot, sudsy water near the sink when you’re cooking a major meal.
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This island has more height than some, so if the owners add a few bar stools that aren’t too tall, guests would be hard pressed to glimpse more than a sliver of mess.
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The most common use of up lighting is in a recessed cove around the top perimeter of a room. To maximize light output, use a T5 fluorescent or LED light source that will wash the ceiling with light. This helps to create a brighter ceiling that bounces and reflects light throughout the space without glare. Combine this with lots of natural daylight to increase the overall light levels in a room.
As we age, the lens of the eye becomes less flexible, and our lighting requirements change. The ability to focus on near objects decreases, which explains why many people need reading glasses as they get older. The lens of the eye also becomes denser and yellower, decreasing the transmission of light, so that more light is often needed to see. This changes how we perceive colors; they become more muted and muddy. Just try looking through a yellow filter to see what I mean — you’ll benefit from lighter colors surrounding you. The eyes become more susceptible to glare as well, making the need for contrast greater.
Opt for Xenon or LED lights for bright and warm yet accurate color rendering. Always make sure there is a diffuser or lens on the fixture itself to help evenly distribute the light and reduce any hot spots on the counter.
As we age, we will require two to five times more light to perform the same tasks we did at a younger age.
But bins like these, built right into the cabinetry, could change my mind. Having a spot where you can sweep away waste and compost as you go is a huge part of keeping counters tidy, and built-in bins sure look better than my stash of plastic bags from Target.
All-around lighting includes general lighting and natural light. You want to ensure that at any time of day, there is enough light for everyone to effectively use the space without incident, and that any dark areas are minimized.
5. Add baskets galore. When I’m making a meal, jars and boxes don’t always get returned to their proper homes right away. Having a row of baskets to toss things into helps to keep the kitchen neat. These are in a full pantry, but you can use the same tactic on open counter space, or on built-in or freestanding shelves.
There are many other issues that affect aging eye lenses too, so older eyes require different lighting solutions. These solutions won’t benefit just them; they will also help create more beautiful household surroundings. Considering the right amount of light, location of the light source and color temperature will improve your and your family’s sense of well-being.
1. Block the view. If you can’t avoid making a mess while you cook, you can at least shield it from guests. A two-tier island or peninsula, with the back higher than the front, screens flotsam from those seated opposite the cook.