Artificial lighting is the easiest way to set or change the atmosphere of an entire room. With one switch, your kitchen can go from bright, efficient hub of activity to a softly lit setting for a quiet meal. Plus, the right lighting can make meal preparation and cleanup safer and more efficient.
Just think how much time you might save if you could open a cabinet and spot whatever you need right away, or how quickly you could chop an onion in a bright, clear, shadow-less space.
Besides, performing a task that sometimes feels like drudgery seems more comfortable in the right light because your eyes are less susceptible to strain. The key to devising a versatile plan that can change with each activity, as well as with a time of day, begins with knowledge about types of artificial lighting.
For overall lighting and many task lighting situations in the kitchen, homeowners most often choose recessed down-lights or another built-in lighting. Mounted flush with the ceiling these lighting fixtures don’t break the surface plane of the ceiling as pendant lights or chandeliers do. Unlike surface-mounted fixtures, recessed ones don’t make low ceilings seem lower.
It is often best to team both recessed and hanging fixtures in rooms with higher ceilings for balance lighting. When designing for a building or remodeling project, imagine all the activities you’ll do in a place and where you’ll be doing them. Then plan accordingly, locating your fixtures exactly where you need them.
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Assessing Your Kitchen Lighting Needs
When your kitchen is not bright enough, most people exchange low-watt bulbs for high-watt versions. Wattage, however, is simply a measurement of how much electricity a lamp consumes.
The light output of the bulb measured in lumens. If the bulbs you have been using aren’t providing enough general light, substitute them with ones that have more lumens. The next time you shop for bulbs, read the packaging, which indicates the lumens per watt (lpw) produced by a bulb — the more luminous per watt, the more efficient the lamp. When looking for intensity produced by a lamp, refer to its candlepower (Cp). The more candela (units), the brighter the source.
Because of all the different tasks performed in a kitchen, devising a light plan for this room can become complex. However, when planning a suitable kitchen lighting design, you might consider other factors.
Before you do anything about buying lamps and fixtures for your kitchen, asses how you will use the kitchen in addition to the essential functions of cooking, eating, and cleaning up. Think about how you want your kitchen to feel – perhaps cool and efficient while you work, but cozy while you dine.
Assess the reflective levels in the kitchen – the amount of light reflected from the flat surface, such as countertops, floors, painted walls, and ceiling. Light colors and shiny surfaces are reflective, dark colors and matt surfaces are absorbent. For example, white reflects 80 percent of the light in a room, while black reflects only 4 percent. Therefore, When selecting materials and colors remember that a kitchen with light walls, cabinets, and high-gloss countertops and flooring requires less light than one with dark or matte-finished surfaces and wood cabinetry.
Lighting in Multipurpose Dining Area
In today’s multipurpose dining areas, lighting needs to be suitable not only for dining but for many other family activities. The right fixture isn’t always a chandelier. There was a time when the phrase “dining room fixtures” almost always meant chandeliers, usually made of cast metal or tubular brass, perhaps with prisms, hanging over the center of the table. That’s definitely not the case anymore.
While there are certain rooms in which such a fixture is still most appropriate, some decorating styles call for lighting that is more spear, more contemporary, or more individual. Luckily, an abundance of choices exists for every taste.
Anywhere family meals are eaten deserves good, convivial lighting. In addition, providing adequate task lighting, especially in the cooking area, where sharp knives, scalding and burning materials, and the subtleties of fine cooking coexist, only makes good sense. The placement of lighting fixtures may vary depending on the size of your kitchen. However, above all, let your lighting need dictate how many fixtures to buy and where to install them.
Professional designers always try to include as much natural light in a kitchen plan as possible (see also green design and solar energy). Task lighting often under wall cabinets or above the island, is a must – although it’s often tempting to eliminate the added expense. There also must be a light over the sink and some type of general lighting. Some designers and homeowners prefer the look of hanging lighting fixtures to recessed lighting. You might also want to consider lighting inside a kitchen cabinets