Kitchen Lighting Tips

The kitchen is often the heart of the home. It’s the room where people gather to eat, converse, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s where you prepare delicious holiday meals and catch up with an old friend over a cup of coffee. It may also be where your kids do their homework, sitting at the kitchen island while you prepare dinner for that evening.

Many homeowners have an idea of where they’d like to begin on their kitchen lighting. They may have seen a modern pendant light or an under cabinet fixture in a magazine or online, and the shape or color of the fixture inspired the rest of their lighting design. Others are less sure about what they want, but they can envision the completed kitchen in their mind, and they see themselves and their family using the space for years to come.

Regardless of which one you are – the detailed planner or the person who is open to suggestions – we can help you find the right kitchen lighting choices. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing a small cottage kitchen or a grand galley for your vacation home – our stores have the selection you need and the expertise you can trust. Many of our member showrooms have in-house lighting experts who can sit down with you and go over fixture styles that fit your vision. They can also provide design advice and guidance for those areas where you’re not so sure. Above all, we want you to have a positive experience to give you confidence so when you need lighting in the future, you’ll know where to turn.

Designing Your New Kitchen

When designing your new kitchen, you likely start with the countertops and appliances. This often makes the most sense, but how will the countertops and appliances look under poor or inadequate lighting?

The ambient lighting’s purpose is to provide illumination for the entire kitchen. This can come from a hanging light in the center of the room, or, if the room is larger, multiple ceiling fixtures placed evenly throughout the space. There are pendants and small chandeliers that can function as the room’s ambient fixture, and you’ll want to be sure that the light is bright enough to reach every corner of the space. After all, the kitchen is where you prep, cook, and clean on a daily basis, and even entertain at certain times!

A great addition to your kitchen’s ambient illumination can be recessed lighting, and spacing these fixtures throughout the room can give you a brighter room that’s more functional and inviting. If your kitchen has a ceiling that’s taller than 10 or 11 feet, then recessed fixtures are a must.

Accent And Task Lighting

There may not be much to highlight or accent in the kitchen in terms of decor and artwork, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need accent lighting. The pendant lights over your kitchen island can add a great touch through their shape and style, and the illumination they provide will accent the color and texture of your countertop. They of course also function as task lighting for doing homework, prepping meals, or serving snacks.

When it comes to task lighting, this is perhaps the most important aspect of your kitchen lighting design. When you’re in the space, you’re likely chopping fruits and vegetables, washing dishes, or cooking something on the stovetop. You need light to see by as you do these tasks, and having the right under cabinet fixtures can make all the difference. Under cabinet lighting makes chopping and prepping easier, and having a focused recessed or hanging light above the sink makes washing dishes a breeze.

The Workflow Triangle

As you move from one area to another through what is known as the “workflow triangle,” it’s important to have adequate lighting in each spot. The triangle follows the lines from the fridge to the stove to sink, and it’s imperative that each area have the lighting you need. Whether it’s the under cabinet lighting by the refrigerator, the recessed light above the sink, or the lights from your vent hood above the stove, every area needs adequate lighting to make it as functional and as efficient as possible.

Kitchen Lighting Controls

Multiple Entrances

If your kitchen has multiple entrances or doorways, then it’s important to have switches at every location. You may have one doorway that leads from the dining room or living room into the kitchen, and one that leads to the back of the house or onto the backyard patio. Placing switches at each location will ensure that you can turn the lights on or off as you leave or enter the room.

An Open Floor Plan

Many modern homes have an open floor plan, and the kitchen is integrated into the plan next to the dining room or living room. If you have a square pillar or a small wall that divides the space from the rest of the house, consider placing your switches on this surface. You may not want the switches to be easily seen, and an in-house lighting expert can help you find the best spot for your controls.

Multiple Switches

Since you have several light fixtures in your kitchen – the ceiling light, the pendants, the under cabinet lights, and the recessed lighting – you’ll likely need a switch for each one. The switches for the ceiling light and the pendants can be on the wall or the pillar, along with the switch for the recessed lights. Having multiple switches allows you to control which lights are on and which ones are off, giving you the ability to keep some on for nighttime lighting or to create the perfect ambiance when you’re hosting friends and family. For lights such as the recessed fixture above the sink, it’s best to have the switch near the sink, since you’ll likely only use it when you’re washing dishes or cleaning up after dinner.

Dimmer Switches

You may not think that it’s necessary to have dimmer switches in the kitchen, but they can truly make the space more appealing. You may not want to have the kitchen island pendants as bright when you’re hosting a dinner or cocktail party, and lowering them can set the mood, while still giving people enough light to see by as they retrieve drinks and appetizers. Lowering the recessed lights can also improve the ambiance, especially if you have lights above your cabinets. This can create a warm glow around the entire room that can make the space more enticing.

If you’re designing a new kitchen, then make sure lighting controls are high on your priority list. Once you’ve chosen your new fixtures, you’re going to need the proper switches and controls for them. Some of our member showrooms even have modern options such as smart controls and sensors that allow you to create and set a lighting theme for certain times of the day!

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