Light Up Your Life (and Kitchen)

Light Up Your Life (and Kitchen)

Good lighting makes a new kitchen more enjoyable, and bad lighting does just the opposite. Lighting can make or break how a new kitchen looks, feels and functions. It is equally as important as cabinets, countertops, appliances and other fixtures. It may not always be the first thing that a person thinks about when they visit Howard’s Kitchen Studio, but it is definitely one of the most important.

Effective lighting illuminates a space in layers using different components and strategies to paint the final picture. You can buy a functional $70 faucet in a home center, but most likely that faucet will not add much to the beauty of the kitchen. A similar analogy holds true for lighting. Simply placing flush-mounted fixtures in the ceiling of the center of the kitchen can provide functional light, but recessed ceiling lighting may do little to beautify the space, create a mood or evoke a favorable emotional response.

Layers of light contribute not only to the functionality of the kitchen but also to its design and beauty. The different types of lighting that are used to layer light are:

  • Ambient
  • Task
  • Accent

Ambient lighting is the main source of illumination for most rooms in a home. The goal of ambient lighting is to provide soft, general illumination without necessarily drawing attention to the light source. Ambient lighting provides enough light for safe navigation, cooking and washing dishes and helps to define the space.

Depending on the location of the kitchen and the number of windows and doors, ambient lighting can be sourced organically, from sunlight. Other potential sources of ambient lighting can be chandeliers, pendant lights, recessed lighting and flush mounted lighting.

Task lighting is employed to illuminate the activities that take place in the kitchen and provides light to prep, cook, bake, read recipes, easily find ingredients and spices, watch television or do homework. Recent technological advances enable designers to integrate task lighting into drawers and cabinets by installing LED strip lighting or puck lights. We often employ LED strip lights under cabinets to illuminate countertops.

Accent lighting is used to help keep the kitchen from looking ordinary or bland by highlighting opening shelving, artwork, architectural details or other objects. A detail or work of art that draws the attention of the eye is referred to as a focal point. Light fixtures that provide light and shadows can make the space more inviting and comfortable. These may include track lights, recessed adjustable fixtures and spotlights. Accent lighting is subtle. A focused beam of light directed at a plant or highlighting a work of art, or a spotlight placed behind a plant and pointed upward through the leaves creates shadows on the wall that can make a kitchen more attractive.

We almost always recommend lighting controls such as dimmers and motion detectors as part of a lighting plan because they not only are greener, but thye also they help to control utility costs and enable you to alter the look and feel of the room.

A kitchen lighting design is successful when all three types of light are layered together within a room to create a fully usable, adaptive space. Good lighting does not draw attention to itself but highlights the other design elements and fixtures in the space. Different light layers may be activated depending on purpose or time of day. For example, during the day, pendants over the island may not be needed at all, but when you start to prepare dinner in the evening all the layers providing ambient, task, and accent lighting become necessary.

If you would like to learn how lighting can enhance your kitchen, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Howard’s. We’d love to help you light up your life, and your kitchen!

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