Let’s talk kitchen lighting.
In our last blog, we talked about lighting and furnishings, and we know from the feedback we’ve got that a lot of people found it helpful.
So, over the following few blogs, we’re going to talk about how to organise the perfect lighting in every individual room of your house (and even outside your house too.)
By the time we’re finished, we hope this series of blogs will make up a handy lighting guide that you’ll want to keep referring back to in the future.
Because here’s the thing – when we look at a room and think how tired it seems and wouldn’t it be good if we changed those countertops, put up some new shelves, or hung different wallpaper, we’re often overlooking a solution that isn’t just simpler and quicker; it will cost us a lot less money and hassle as well.
Because one of the fantastic things about lighting is that when you know how to use it and place it correctly, you can transform any room in your house without physically changing a thing.
Today, let’s look at the kitchen.
Tip 1: Be aware of the different types of light
There are three main types of light, and we’ll be talking about them a lot in all of these blogs. Once you understand what each type of light is, it will make planning the perfect lighting a lot easier.
Ambient lighting is the main source of light, and most – if not all – of it should be cast from your ceiling. Think chandeliers, recessed lighting, pendant lights etc.
The big problem with ambient lighting is that, because it enables you to see the whole of the room, it inevitably creates shadows that could make performing specific tasks difficult.
That’s what task lighting is all about. Task lighting ensures that certain important areas are appropriately illuminated so you can safely see what you’re doing.
For obvious reasons, that’s especially important in a kitchen! Think strip lights and downlighting over work surfaces, islands, and the oven hob.
Accent lighting is the little touches that really highlight how well put together your room is.
Think of them like fine details, although they can sometimes be used for ambient or task lighting too.
Think lighting on shelves and cabinets so that you can see your ingredients and kickboard lighting, which doesn’t only add a stylish touch to the lower edges of the room, it can help you see where you’re going when all the other lights are switched off.
When you know how to combine ambient, task, and accent lighting in every room, you can transform your home in all kinds of different ways.
You can even make a room appear larger, make up for insufficient natural light, or hide bits of the architecture you’re not too fond of!
Tip 2: Consider where the natural lighting falls
If you’re planning an entirely new kitchen, that’s great because you’ve got an empty canvas to work from.
So think carefully about how you want to use the area, where you’re going to place things, and the different activities that will be happening within each space.
Factoring in the amount of natural light you’ve got available is always important.
Some kitchens can be very small with only one window, usually above the sink area, but others – especially open-plan kitchens – might have larger windows or even a skylight, so much more light coming through from the outside world.
The same thing applies when you want to change the lighting in your existing kitchen.
Where is the natural lighting coming in, and how far does it extend? Also, don’t forget that if your dining table is under the skylight (which is great for enjoying lunch during the summer), what about when you’re having an evening meal, and it starts to get dark outside?
How will you mix and match your natural lighting and practical lighting so they’ll work perfectly together as night falls?
Tip 3: Identify the critical lighting areas
Many kitchen designers like to keep the whole space light and neutral, relying mainly on a combination of ambient lighting, task lighting, and natural lighting.
They call it ‘light layering’, and it starts by identifying the parts of the kitchen where you’ll need more light than others:
Over an island
If you’ve got an island you use for food preparation, a combination of hanging lights and recessed downlighting can be a good idea.
On the other hand, if you only use the island as a social space (i.e. with stools around it, so people can chat to you while you cook), a set of two or three pendant lightings spaced evenly above the countertop may be all that you need.
Ensure there is at least 30 inches between the bottom of the pendant light and the top of the island.
As we mentioned a moment ago, ambient lighting can often leave shadows in areas where you need more visibility. That’s especially true where the underside of cabinets is concerned.
LED strip lights are a perfect way to fully illuminate the counter space beneath cabinets (especially if the cabinets are low, so they don’t receive any ambient lighting) and also show off the cabinet’s interior, so your favourite glassware and china can always be on display.
Puck lights are terrific for spotlighting essential areas on the countertop and also set a fantastic mood.
Above work surfaces
Suspension lighting is another handy way to stylishly illuminate work surfaces, especially if your kitchen has a high ceiling.
Under-cupboard spots fitted directly above the working area will ensure you’ll always receive bright, concentrated light. But make sure you fit them as close to the front edge of the cupboard as you can; otherwise, all you’ll be illuminating is the back of the wall!
Tip 4: Don’t forget the importance of ambient light
Ambient lighting is crucial in a kitchen because, more than almost any other room in the house, it’s a place that’s busy and active, so that takes precedence over creating ambience and atmosphere (the other room is the bathroom.)
If you’ve got a smaller kitchen, one ample ceiling light in the centre of the kitchen might be all you need.
Larger kitchens, where the light has to splash across a much bigger space, will probably gain more benefit from recessed downlighting.
In a larger kitchen that includes a dining area, confining the recessed downlighting to the kitchen and hanging pendants or suspended lighting above the eating zone can be a great combination.
When you know how your ambient light works with your task lighting and natural lighting, you can begin to plan the lighting layout that works best for you.
Ceiling-mounted lights that allow you to position the spots wherever you need the light to be directed are another solution.
Make sure you choose lights with the correct beam width, though, otherwise you still won’t be able to see what you’re doing, but you’ll look like you’re making dinner in the middle of a science-fiction movie!
Tip 5: Stay Smart and in control
As we’ve mentioned so many times before (and we’ll keep banging on about it whenever we’ve got the opportunity!) Smart LED lighting isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity that every home should have.
In terms of the kitchen, it means you can control the lights in every part of the room either at the touch of a button or by asking your home assistant (Alexa, Siri, etc.) to do it for you.
That’s especially useful if you’re in a larger kitchen where you only need to keep the lights brightest in the ‘working part’ of the space or, as the natural light begins to fade, you can bring up the practical lights without having to stop what you’re doing.
Smart colour changing LED lighting will allow you to instantly alter the colours to change your mood, too.
That’s especially useful if you didn’t feel like cooking dinner that evening, and you want to lift your spirits!
At Oliver Lamps, we’ve got all the lighting solutions you need to make your kitchen a room you’ll be proud of.
We’ve also got Smart LED lighting technology available at a price that’s very easy on your bank account!
To find out more, give our friendly team a call on 01328 855028, drop us an email at [email protected], or, even better (because we’d love to meet you in person!), pop into our showroom at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, NR21 9DY.
Stay safe, and we’ll be back with more top lighting tips for another room in your house very soon!