Kitchen Lighting Tips That Create Ambiance

A well-lit work area is a safety essential in a kitchen. Lighting can also be used to create ambiance. The key to good kitchen lighting is to rely on a cast of lighting sources and to layer your lights, mixing ambient (overall), task, and accent or decorative lighting with natural light.

Consider Your Space

The number of fixtures and placement of fixtures greatly depends on your kitchen’s size, layout, and look. For example, taller ceilings and darker finishes call for more light.

Task Lighting

This essential light should be included over the cooking surface, at the sink, over the counters, and over any table or other work surfaces. These fixtures should be about 30 inches above an island, peninsula, or table, but might be higher if you are taller or are placing the light over a raised surface or an area such as a cooktop.

Recessed Lights

Recessed, or can, lights that provide ambient lighting for the room should be 24-42 inches apart and should work to light the entire room — not just areas without task lights.

Color Matters

The size of your kitchen helps determine how many fixtures you will need for adequate illumination, but color makes a difference, too. White reflects light, bouncing it back into the room and making the space feel brighter. With many white surfaces, you might be able to lower the wattage of bulbs used or even cut back on the number of fixtures and still have a well-illuminated room.

Style Accents

Pendant lights come in a variety of styles, shapes, sizes and colors. They work well to fill the visual void above islands and peninsulas while providing the necessary illumination for the work area.

Surface Considerations

The darker the colors in your kitchen, the more sources of light you’ll need to make sure you can see what you’re doing. Dark surfaces absorb more light than white and light-color surfaces do. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, a kitchen with dark surfaces needs about one-third more light than a kitchen with lighter surfaces

Bring Sparkle to Cabinetry

Puck or recessed mini can lights bring sparkle underneath and to the interiors of cabinets. Although usually outfitted with xenon or halogen bulbs, new easy-to-install puck lights are also available with LEDs (light-emitting diodes), the newest green alternative for lighting. LEDs use much less electricity to produce light, they last much longer, and they produce less heat (which affects home cooling bills). For example, a 2-watt LED spotlight bulb emits as much light as a 25-watt incandescent bulb and lasts up to 18 times longer.

Kitchens Go Glam

Chandeliers aren’t just for dining rooms anymore. When mixing styles, a simple background, such as white cabinets, white walls, and a bare window can let a pretty chandelier take center stage.

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