Thomas Edison introduced the modern electric light bulb in 1879. Since then, these incandescent, soft white color temperature bulbs have, with their slightly yellowish glow, made our homes feel warm and cozy.
While these bulbs can make a family or bedroom more inviting, they’re not ideal for rooms like the kitchen, where brighter lights are needed for important tasks. Especially the ones that involve a knife in your hand!
Today’s advanced technology has brought a range of bulbs, including CFLs and LEDs, that come in a wide range of color temperatures, each one serving a distinct purpose in your kitchen lighting layout.
Here’s a quick refresher on the three types of kitchen lights: general, task, and decorative or accent.
General Kitchen Lighting
Anything up in the ceiling is considered general lighting. Recessed can lights are far and away the most popular choice for overall kitchen illumination. Track lighting is often used in more modern settings, while the flush-mount ceiling fixtures of old are rarely chosen unless you’re going for an authentic vintage look.
Can lights come in three diameters, 4, 5 and 6 inches, and provide more than enough illumination to certain areas of the countertops or island. They can be outfitted with LED, halogen or incandescent bulbs. Their biggest problems? The shadows they cast, followed by the amount of energy they suck up if using incandescents versus LED’s.
Available trimmed or untrimmed, one of the greatest plusses of can lights is that they can be rotated, revolved, or swiveled to shine light in different directions.
Task Kitchen Lighting
Task lighting focuses on a specific area, providing targeted illumination for accomplishing tasks like chopping, slicing, dicing, and reading cookbooks. The best task lighting designs focus on brightening prep spaces while drawing the eye away from the can lights and other sources you may use like LEDs and fluorescents.
Pendants and sconces can both be used for task lighting. Pendants work great at enhancing ambient lighting and directing light down to countertops, especially an island. A row of pendants can make a beautiful statement and distinguish food prep areas of larger kitchens. Many people use this look above a peninsula. But be careful about overdoing it; too many hanging lights can look cluttered and distract the eye.
Once considered a high-end feature, under cabinet lights are now a must-have lighting option in any kitchen remodeling design plan. You have several options:
- LED strip lights come in a variety of colors, are energy-efficient, relatively inexpensive, and simple to install.
- Fluorescent fixtures can be your least expensive option, but they do cast a bluish tint.
- Both xenon and halogen lights are extremely bright, but they also burn hot and are more expensive.
Don’t forget about color temperature. Undercabinet lights should be at least 3500K, emitting a bright white/cool white glow. Want to mimic daylight? Choose a bulb with a minimum 5000K output.
Decorative Kitchen Lighting
There are so many creative ways to use lights in your kitchen. One interesting one we’ve recently seen is adding a strip of LED lights to the base cabinets’ toe kicks and then putting them on a motion sensor. The result? A warm and lovely glow whenever you enter the room. It’s also a great way to bring texture into the room.
Another beautiful option is lighted back painted glass kitchen cabinet doors. They come in over 200 colors and, when illuminated, look absolutely stunning.
Finally, don’t forget natural light! The sun provides free, bright light that brings out true colors in cabinetry and countertops while brightening the room by reflecting off various surfaces. If your kitchen doesn’t have enough daylight, consider installing bigger or more windows, or glass doors that lead to the back patio or deck.
Ultimately, the final lighting design decisions for your kitchen remodel are up to you. You’re the one who knows best how you use your kitchen. The great thing is there now so many exciting options to choose from, so you can create the look and feel you desire.
We want every kitchen remodel we do to be a reward experiencing for our clients. Are you ready to get started on transforming your kitchen into the bright and cheery space you’ve always dreamed of? Our designers are here to show you how!
To learn more about our kitchen remodeling process or to set up an initial consultation, get in touch with us today. We look forward to meeting with you!
Megan’s passion for design extends beyond her workplace. In her free time, Megan enjoys all types of crafts, including knitting, crocheting, and rehabbing/reupholstering furniture.