LIGHTING TIPS FOR EVERY ROOM (Second in a Series)

Tips for Lighting your Kitchen

In this blog, we continue the series originally written by Jill Connors for HGTV.com.

With its heavy focus on the functions of food preparation and cleanup, as well as its tendency to be a gathering spot, the kitchen requires careful consideration of task and ambient lighting. Think in particular of the task lighting for the counters, where most of the work takes place, and over the sink.

One of the main reasons sinks have often been located at a window is to take advantage of natural light, and this layout is still highly recommended by lighting experts. Augment the natural light with a ceiling mounted or recessed fixture above the sink. Using undercabinet lighting is a good way to illuminate the countertop work surfaces without relying on an overhead light that will cast shadows on the person working at the counters.

When Providence lighting designer Markus Earley, an adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, upgraded the lighting in his own kitchen recently, he compared LED and compact fluorescent lighting options for his undercabinet lighting, and chose T5 linear fluorescent light bulbs that are dimmable and emit a warm light with a correlated color temperature (CCT) of 3,000 Kelvin. “My one concern with LED technology is that the LED chip is a tiny little directional light source so that in a linear undercabinet LED light, you have a multiplicity of little tiny light sources that create shadows,” Earley says.

A basic lighting plan for a modest kitchen might consist of a central, ceiling-mounted fixture providing ambient light, with undercabinet fixtures providing task lighting for the counters, soffit lighting providing task lighting above the sink, and a pendant providing task or ambient lighting over the island. This traditional lighting plan is adequate for many kitchens and can be improved simply by putting all lighting on a dimmer, and choosing energy efficient light bulbs.

A new lighting plan for a medium-sized kitchen might call for cove lighting along two opposite kitchen walls to provide ambient lighting that bounces light off the ceiling, instead of recessed downlights or ceiling-mounted central fixtures, both of which primarily send light straight down. Valance lighting above the sink and undercabinet lighting would provide the task lighting.

Lumens: Ambient kitchen lighting should be 5,000-10,000 lumens, with task lighting at counters, sink and range a minimum of 450 lumens in each area.

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