Kitchen lighting is about mixing it up

Different finishes, sizes and shapes add style and function
Monday, December 5, 2016
by Jackie Berry

When choosing lighting for a kitchen, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “Will this fixture give off enough light?” The kitchen is an area where people tend to spend most of their time cooking, eating, reading, writing, doing homework, and socializing. It’s important to have adequate amounts of general and task lighting, as well as being able to provide ambient lighting for a more relaxed social setting.

Recessed lighting is an area that should be carefully considered at the very start of a new build or renovation so it can be properly roughed in at the start of the project. The purpose of recessed lighting is to illuminate the surface of a work space, not necessarily to be a decorative fixture that people notice. There are many different types of recessed lighting to choose from and factors such as size, finish, light output, and narrow spot vs. wide flood should be considered. Designers can choose the colour of the trim, and whether there is a ridged baffle, or a reflective finish. Reflectors are designed to give a more efficient and smooth light output, without giving off a harsh glare. There is a wide selection of finishes ranging from a cool chrome or clear to a warmer gold tone. The lamp sits higher up within the housing, and often is adjustable to provide light where it’s required. Baffled trims absorb the stray light so homeowners experience a comfortable glow when they are on. White trims look best when they are turned off as they blend in with the ceilings, but can cause a glaring effect when they are on, where as a black or bronze finish when illuminated gives a warmer effect and does not draw the eye to the light source.

Think about how the homeowner will be using the space and the best position for the lights to make them the most functional. Will there be an island with multiple pendants? Will those fixtures be for a soft ambient effect where there will be a need for additional recessed fixtures to provide task lighting in that area, or will they be sufficient on their own? A trend is to use a few larger pendants that have more presence over a kitchen island, or have just one large fixture which can range in style from a more traditional chandelier, to a contemporary linear piece. Another trend is mixing different shapes, and/or sizes that are in a similar series. Maybe try groupings of three or five depending on the size of the island, or mix them in clusters in different heights to create a sense of playful movement. Mixed finishes on fixtures is another ongoing trend. We see brass mixed with oil rubbed bronze, or black and gold, as well as natural materials like iron, wood, or even rope. Different colours and shapes of glass range from clear, or seeded to mercury and coloured glass is also popular.

Under cabinet lighting is a must for tasks such as cooking. LED strip lighting gives an even light output on counter tops and does not emit as much heat as the Xenon or Halogen lamps. Think about incorporating it for toe kick lighting under islands, or even above cabinets or in a cove to give a wash on the ceiling for another layer of lighting. Also, puck lights within glass cabinets to highlight items like fine china or collectibles is another great way to layer the lighting.

There are different types of light sources to consider such as incandescent, low voltage halogen, fluorescent, or LED technology which is the most environmentally friendly and energy saving, and is becoming more economical in cost. With LED there is a wide variety of colour temperatures such as a warm amber light to a cool white. The majority of LEDs can be used with a dimming system. Dimming is also a great way to control light output and set scenes within the home, as well as conserve energy and prolong lamp life.

Lighting trends and technologies are always evolving. The kitchen is a working area where homeowners spend a lot of their time enjoying the space, so it’s worth taking some time to find the perfect balance of function and style.

Jackie Berry, outside sales, has been with Robinson Lighting and Bath Centre for over eight years now. She is an active member of CHBA and is also on the executive board for the NKBA Prairie Province Chapter.

1 thought on “Kitchen lighting is about mixing it up

  1. Your points about under cabinet lighting and how important it is for cooking really helped. I’m someone who loves cooking, and I’ll volunteer to do it any chance I get. Because of this, I’ve started to demand more from my kitchen every time I try different recipes or cook at different times of the day. With how many accidents might come up due to my cutting or frying something, I’ll definitely be on the safe side and get an electrician to install some under cabinet lighting in my kitchen.

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