Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to light up your kitchen

Kitchen lighting plan know-how

Your kitchen is the place where you'll probably need more light than anywhere else in your home, so plan carefully:

General words of advice:
1. Not all areas of the kitchen are supposed to be lit at the same intensity:  work and task areas such as counter tops, island, dining table etc should be more intensely lit than the floor. If your kitchen is small, make sure your walls and top cabinets are well lit.
2. A single light source can never accomplish that, no matter how much wattage you use.
3. Consider color - the darker your kitchen cabinets, counter top, paint are, the more lighting you will need.
4. Use dimmers everywhere. They are fairly cheap and easy to install. They save energy when you don't need that intense lighting. Dimming can help when you want a different mood, such as when you are dining or entertaining.

Here's how to plan your kitchen lighting plan:

Recessed Lights

Great for general illumination though not extremely efficient. Recessed lights come in different sizes and prices. Avoid placing too many of them - your ceiling will end up looking like swiss cheese and not necessarily well lit. Add in under cabinet lighting and/or pendants instead.
1. Size - the smaller ones (4") look better and are more expensive. Don't go over 5". 
2. Bulbs - always use spot light bulbs and not the spiral CFL or incandescent ones. Spot lights have a reflective side that directs all the the light downwards instead of lighting the inner side of the can. That's why they light up the space much more efficiently than regular CFL bulbs. They also look much better.

Track lighting - flexible and economical, track lights can be a good solution for narrow,galley kitchens. They do have a contemporary look that may or may not work with your 

3. How to place them - most importantly - center the recessed lights on the edge of the countertop: if you place them away from the counter top, your body will a create shadow over the counter top. I've seen so many kitchens where recessed lights where placed in the wrong places and where not lighting what they where supposed to light. Depending on the layout of your kitchen, the size of the recessed lights and ceiling height, place them between 2.5'-4' apart.

Under cabinet lighting
Undercabinet lighting directly light the countertop and backsplash. This is extremely important if your counter top is dark.
1. Where to place them - install the undercabinet lighting closer the front edge of the cabinet. This will create a larger cone of light over the back splash and countertop. 
3. Wired vs. not - it's easy and tempting to install under cabinetligting with individual switches. However, chances are you won't be using them much. You'll be using them a lot more if they're all wired on a single switch. This means you'll need to hire an electrician, of course, but It's worth it.
Kitchen Undercounter Lighting Design, Pictures, Remodel, Decor and Ideas - page 5
Sleek LED under shelving
4. Light temperature - consider the lighting temperature (warm or cool) of the bulbs: I've discussed this issue in another post how light affects tile color .
5. Thin fixtures - choose the thin sleek fixtures so all you'll see is the light not the bulbs.
6. Magic! - under cabinet lighting creates this magical feel: you can't see where the light comes from! Also, you will notice that the under counter lights "lift" up your upper cabinets visually. they will look like they are floating.

                airy, modern coastal style white kitchen by Vered Rosen Design   

Accent lighting
Accent lighting adds style and character to any kitchen. Depending on the light fixture, they can also be an efficient way to light up a space.
1. Island or dining table- place them in the right height. too low  - they will block your view and light only a small area (the higher the light, the larger the cone of light), too high - not intense enough. You might also notice the bulbs depending on the shape of the pendant.

Exposed beams are the center of attention in this cottage-style kitchen. More kitchens we love:  http://www.bhg.com/kitchen/color-schemes/neutrals/white-kitchens-we-love/?socsrc=bhgpin062912
2. over the sink - make sure it's on a separate switch. You don't need to focus light on your dirty dishes when you're not doing them...
3. Style - consider style. coastal, rustic, contemporary, whatever floats your boat. Pendants can add a lot of style to your kitchen, so make sure the style is in line with what you already have.

What a beautiful space to prepare meals and entertain guests! More of our favorite kitchen designs: http://www.bhg.com/kitchen/color-schemes/neutrals/white-kitchens-we-love/

                    3" shaker or wider? Very pretty. I even like the barely there knobs.

If you'd like help with color, redesigning or decorating your own home, contact me @ 

kitchen lights that blend in with the view


  1. Great lighting tips and lovely pictures too..

  2. what is a good height for pendants at the island?

    1. Typically between 60"-66" off the floor to the bottom rim of the pendant. These guidelines can be adjusted according to other factors such as the design of the pendant, intensity of light needed and the height of the people who use the island (for very tall people, raise the pendants)

  3. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

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    Pendant Lights