If you have open shelving or no overhead cabinets, do not despair. Smaller, directional sconces or downlit pendants can be used in multiples to create task illumination and a dramatic design statement.
Ambient lighting is the base layer that makes a room usable. As in other rooms, this is generally lighting that originates from the ceiling. Recessed lighting is the current reigning trend, but you can also look to flushmount fixtures or even track or rail systems.
Incandescent or a Halogen Lamping that is 120 Volts will use a standard dimmer switch. Halogen Lamping that is 12 Volts (low voltage) will need an electronic low voltage dimmer or a magnetic low voltage dimmer depending on the transformer.
Integrated LED fixtures need to indicate that they are dimmable. Often they will use an electronic low voltage dimmer, but please refer to manufacturers spec sheet. CFL Lamping is rarely dimmable and can be a fire hazard.
Accent lighting is where we get to play a little, with fewer hard measurements and more of a design factor than ambient and task lighting. Popular places for accent lighting include above an exposed countertop like an island or peninsula, over the main kitchen sink or over a table, in the case of an eat-in kitchen.
Determining how to light a room isn’t as simple as plugging in your favorite table lamp. A well-lit room seeks to achieve that ever-important balance of form and function—fixtures that are visually appealing and add to a room’s design, while also providing the right light to make the room functional for all of its uses. The best approach is layered lighting: Making use of several times of light in order to achieve the needed level of brightness.
If recessed lighting is not an option, do not fret. Well-powered flushmounts can be equally effective if you choose locations that provide even lighting throughout the space.
The color temperature indicates the relative color that a light source has. It is measured on the Kelvin temperature scale. Light sources with warm light are lower in color temperature, usually around 2700-3000K. Light sources with white light (daylight) are usually around 3000-4000K. Light sources with cooler blue light are higher in color temperature, usually 4000K and over.
If you have a galley-style kitchen or walkways created by an island, a single row of recessed lights that are spaced appropriately will complete your ambient lighting scheme. If your kitchen hugs the walls with nothing in the middle, you likely want to create a grid with the lighting to ensure even illumination across the space.
When choosing fixtures, see if the fixture itself is dimmable, and ensure you select a dimmer that will function with it.
Other popular options are a pendant, or even a sconce, for providing handy accent light over a kitchen sink. This is a perfect spot to pop a practical little piece of jewelry for the room. For either a pendant or a sconce, a directional downlight provides a little extra task lighting as well.
This is generally where the fun comes in, with decorative fixtures often fulfilling the accent role. While we’re calling them out separately here, accent lighting does often cross categories and helps serve the purpose of ambient light, as well.
For open floor plans where the kitchen opens up to the dining and living rooms, you can get a bit more grand with your decorative lighting, if you like. This will help define the dining space within the larger room and anchor the table and chairs. Go for something bold that scales with the table size but still plays well aesthetically with pendants or chandeliers in the surrounding space.
The lighting planners below will walk you through what’s most important for the lighting in every room of your home or project, whether that’s general lighting, task lighting, ambient lighting or a combination of all three. Each will depend on a room’s unique qualities and your plan for the space. Of course, you can always call our ALA-certified team of experts at 877.445.4486 for assistance with everything from choosing the right products to sorting out technical specifications.
The heart of your home can reflect the soul of your style. Here’s how to show your kitchen it its best light.
This space feeds our bodies and souls, and reflects our personal style in its own unique way. It is no wonder that the kitchen ends up at the top of the to-do list when it comes to updating your home or taking on a major remodel.
Your kitchen countertop is generally your workspace, and this is where it’s most important to consider the work surface, where you’ll be and the light source above. A badly cast shadow where you need to show your knife skills can be inconvenient and downright dangerous.
Undercabinet lights also provide a nice ambiance and work as a kitchen night light to save you from stubbed toes on your way to a midnight snack.
The second key to kitchen task lighting is under the cabinets. This is not a fancy add-on that can be ignored, even if you’re looking to go minimal. In fact, installing undercabinet lighting is the best thing you can do to improve the functionality and environment of a kitchen. There is a wide array of various systems and fixtures that can be added on to existing cabinets, as well as fully custom rail kits that integrate your lighting and power outlets into a seamless backsplash.
Energy efficient and warm light. Halogen bulbs are actually incandescent lighting with their energy savings.
LED bulbs are fast becoming the coolest light bulb of them all–literally, as they emit almost no heat and they thrive in cold locations.
As a space that serves as both a technical space for cooking and an atmospheric space for entertaining, lighting and lighting control is critical in the kitchen. As with any space, we can break down kitchen lighting how-to into three main categories: ambient, task and accent. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need and where.
If you have both an eat-in kitchen and a separate, formal dining room, this takes some pressure off of the kitchen lighting since there will be plenty of light sources in the room. For the eat-in dining area, you can use something slightly more decorative or smaller than you might if this was your main light source.
As important as it is to select the right lighting fixtures, you won’t get very far without the correct lighting controls as well. Switches are great—but dimmers are better, and should be used where possible to best control the lighting to any task happening in the space.
If you are rewiring or designing your kitchen from scratch, you’ll also want to plan your controls layout. Most kitchens have more than one entry point, so make sure the most critical ambient fixtures can be controlled from both ends. If you’re not doing a massive overhaul, look to whole-home or WiFi systems that allow you to sync multiple controls without wiring them across.
Like Halogen, Xenon and Krypton bulbs are also energy efficient incandescent bulbs. Xenon doesn’t get as hot as Halogen, and can be a better option in tight or enclosed lighting fixtures.
Efficiency At least 75% more efficient than standard incandescent Dimmable Dimmable options and LED-compatible dimmers available Average Life 25,000 plus hours
The kitchen is, as they say, the heart of the home. Whether it’s a weeknight in with the fam or a gathering of everyone you know, we inevitably end up huddled in this space no matter what the occasion.
View or download each room’s lighting planner to get a list of recommended products and simple guidelines for choosing the just-right light.
Efficiency At least 25% more efficient than standard incandescent Dimmable Fully dimmable, just like standard incandescent Average Life 1,000 hours
A decorative fixture can really change the feel of a room. Don’t be afraid to use materials or styles that might pop against the rest of the room to create a playful juxtaposition. Not every fixture has to come from the same family.
That’s it! Whether you’re planning an update or going for a full kitchen overhaul, the right layers of kitchen lighting will help you maximize the utility and ambiance in your space.
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And if you are having trouble moving power around in the ceiling, a track or monorail system will work. The trick here is making sure the lights do not create too much glare. Look to ones with a wide beam spread instead of a narrow spotlight to keep the light from looking like an art gallery.
General lighting Provides lighting for everyday activities Recessed Lighting Housing & Trims Close-to-Ceiling Lighting Flushmounts & Semi-Flushmounts Controls & Wall Plates Task Lighting Focused Illumination for work spaces such as counter tops and islands Island Lighting Mini Pendants Track & Monorail Lighting Undercabinet Lighting Dimmers, Controls & Wall Plates Accent Lighting Highlights a specific area creating a focal point or to set a mood Chandeliers Pendants Bowl, Drum, Mini, and Multi-Light Wall Sconces Dimmers, Controls & Wall Plates
Recognizable as the “standard” light bulb, with electricity heating a tungsten filament enough to produce visible light.
Efficiency About 75% more efficient than standard incandescent Dimmable Not always dimmable (check the bulb’s label) Average Life 8,000 hours LED
The three priorities for Kitchen Lighting are to deliver overall brightness through general lighting, create functionality with task lighting, and provide a visually appealing space with accent lighting. In order to accomplish this task, you should incorporate these three layers of lighting into your space.
The key to ambient lighting is to provide a consistent light layer, and recessed lighting accomplishes this efficiently. When laying out recessed lighting in a kitchen, you’ll want to focus on areas that aren’t covered by other fixtures like pendants or undercabinet lighting. In short, think of where your feet will be, and you’ll want to ensure that space is lit.
When using recessed lighting, always check the recommended spacing with your ceiling height and the power of the unit being used.
Task lighting is one of the most critical (and most often overlooked) lighting types in the kitchen. In essence, the kitchen is a work space, and you want to make sure you have the right lighting in the right spots to enable you to work safely.
Energy efficient bulbs are available in a wide variety of types, and have improved accuracy in how they render color, so everything looks more natural and alive.
Light dimmers offer flexibility in that area in-between, giving you just the right level of brightness as dictated by a given situation or desired mood. When choosing a dimmer, keep in mind:
You may need one or several types of light fixtures in a room, depending on the layout, size, aesthetic and space available. Here is a checklist of lighting types to consider for a properly lit kitchen:
For islands and peninsulas, you want to select fixtures that scale correctly to the workspace. Look to leave clearance on each exposed side of the work surface to ensure you don’t to knock your head into it. A general rule of clearance is 30 to 36 inches between the surface and fixture, but this can be adjusted based on your height or the diameter of the fixture.