How should I light my kitchen?
Working at Home Depot in Lighting / Electrical, I am frequently asked this question. Many people are renovating or redesigning the space that has become the central area of the family these days. Families no longer sit formally at the dining room table. Today, family members often come and go, grabbing snacks, and it’s not until a basic breakfast, lunch, or dinner that everyone can get together and finally sit down together.
Hopefully the day hasn’t been too hectic and fast food is not an option. Hopefully someone has created a nice, nutritious meal that everyone can appreciate. My “Pop Toaster Oven” cookbook has over 250 fast and healthy food options for active families, singles, boomers, and seniors.
Lighting is key in today’s multi-tasking and multi-purpose kitchens. Work areas need special, direct, high-contrast lighting to prepare food, cook food, wash dishes, or put dishes in the dishwasher. Track lights with GU10 base halogen bulbs provide bright white light. Additionally, the track light heads can be angled toward work areas. This slanted light is preferable to working under a ceiling light in one’s shadow.
Dining areas need light that can be dimmed to create a calm atmosphere and coordinate with guest diners, candles, etc. Elegant pendants give interior décor a boost, cast soft dim lighting, and create pools of light in bars and counters. Dimmers, which are easily installed, not only reduce the wattage used by the lighting fixture, but also extend the life of the bulb within that fixture. More savings!
Ambient lighting is the best for lighting up your entire kitchen space at the flick of a switch. An overhead “troffer,” a two- to four-tube rectangular fluorescent ceiling fixture that is often installed by contractors, provides only general lighting for the kitchen area.
Recessed lighting cans, available in 6.5, 4 and 3-inch cans with a variety of finishes including brushed nickel, white and bronze, create a downward beam of light that illuminates a designated area where light falls. Although this light is usually high contrast, the distance from where it is installed to the surface it illuminates changes the intensity of the light. Recessed eyeball lights can be positioned to shine in specific areas. New recessed lighting LED offerings guarantee 35,000 hours before you have to climb a ladder to replace that recessed lighting bulb. That is a good option!
Under cabinet lights may be the best kept secret. Available in xenon, halogen, fluorescent and LED, they provide direct illumination to the worktop work area. Today’s new two-, three- or four-light under-cabinet LEDs are very slim, provide excellent, high-contrast light, have little or no bulb temperatures, and last 12,000 hours or more.
I often find clients looking for a brighter ceiling light because their kitchen lighting is so poor. What they really need is under cabinet lighting to illuminate their countertops, pendant or recessed lighting to illuminate their bar or counter dining, or track lighting to direct high-contrast beams of light to work areas.
Range hood lights, often in conjunction with a ventilation fan, provide good light to the cooking surface. Many new vent / hood lights offer good high contrast halogen illumination. Older hood lights that accept a normal screw on a medium base bulb can now be upgraded by switching to a bright or daylight compact fluorescent bulb, which will last six years, use much less wattage than a standard bulb, and provide more light.
It’s a good job to research the lighting options available in retail stores today. The low power consumption options in CFLs and LEDs, as well as the variety of light spectrum brightness they now have, can address the personal needs of every home. Take a look at those shelves today and get inspired!