How to begin?
‘When to plan kitchen lighting?’ is a common question. The answer is simple – when you design the kitchen layout and cooking zones. This will let you avoid costly adaptations. Take into account several different types of lighting: task, accent and ambient. Modern kitchens use all three kinds for various purposes.
A good idea to start with is task lighting. It is used to illuminate every spot where you need to be precise while preparing, cooking and cleaning. Let’s look at your floor plan. Do you see any work zones?
Think about the countertop where you prepare food and use chopping boards, the kitchen island, the hob and the sink. Spotlights and pendants will work just right as task lighting for such purposes, similarly to LED bars over the kitchen island.
Next, consider other tasks that you do in the kitchen. Finding products in your cabinets takes ages? Mount LED strips on the underside of shelves inside. Plenty of countertops and you are sure spotlights won’t work? Install LED lights on the bottom of the wall cabinets.
Designed smartly, it makes a stunning effect. Accent or feature lighting guides attention to single objects, art pieces, decorative china or architectural elements. Use it to express your personality as well. An avid fan of coffee? Illuminate the coffee machine with a spotlight. A modern art aficionado? Bring attention to a painting or a sculpture with wall lights.
Accent lighting, however, does not end with a countertop and above. Lights placed underneath your kitchen island and lower cabinets will illuminate pathways and are an elegant touch to defined spaces.
For best results, pick one, two or several points of interest and keep in mind that for accent lighting, the optimal contrast ratio is around 3:1 – 4:1. Use spotlights to focus attention and examine the surface you plan to illuminate: diffused light LED panels work best with flat, shiny surfaces, such as modern kitchen floors.
The best source of natural, ambient light is the windows in your kitchen. If they are scarce or small, you should think about overhead lamps that give soft light and illuminate the whole kitchen or diffused wall lights. You shouldn’t need much light, though, since your task and accent lights are already planned.
Ambient lighting is also considered mood lighting as it gives mild, diffused light that is often a base level of illumination. Designers of modern kitchens frequently use under-cabinet, over-cabinet LED bar lights, and lighting mounted on the underside of lower cabinets and kitchen islands. In contrast to regular bulbs, LED is remote-controlled, dimmable and can change colours.
Modern kitchens often use recessed lighting to illuminate these areas which are too dark. As much as they are more similar to spotlights, they do not cast light upon the ceiling because the bulb is above the ceiling level. However, you can compensate it with standard ceiling lamps, also available in LED, which blends right in with most styles. If you prefer more classic solutions, go for a chandelier or a decorative pendant.
The best advice, however, is to use as much natural light as possible. Don’t cover windows just to place one more lamp. Instead, illuminate dark areas during the day and include the absence of natural light while planning your kitchen lighting. Ensure you have enough light regardless of the time of day and as much natural light as possible.
Planning kitchen lighting
The location of lamps is as vital as the location of lighting controls. Consider pathways and most common routes to avoid walking around in the dark just to turn on the light. You might also consider aligning lights along lines determined by your furniture.
Another great tip is to choose solutions that allow you to control lights separately, for some lighting preferably with dimmers. This way, you can create a stunning effect of mood lighting, especially if combined with LED colour-changing strips or bulbs since multifunctional sources of light suit all kitchen styles.
Finally, structure and diversify your kitchen lights. You can create different layers of lighting by following your furniture and work zones. As lights should follow lines, use LED on the underside of lower cabinets and in a series of glass cabinets to illuminate the pathway and cabinet interiors, respectively.