Modern Kitchen Lighting
You might expect that the electrician would be in charge of lighting the kitchen. In fact, lighting design is an integral part of the kitchen plan and the designer’s responsibility. Gilday kitchen & bath designer Leslie Roosevelt plans her lighting in a multi-layered approach. She identifies three basic lighting types used in the kitchen. They are recessed (ceiling) lights, under cabinet lights and pendants. These are selected and located to achieve two functions: a) general illumination and b) task lighting.
Recessed lights in the ceiling are the standard choice for general illumination in the room. Lighting instruments are positioned in the ceiling so that they will illuminate walls (or wall cabinets) and flat surfaces with evenly diffused brightness. The ceiling height and room size determine the number of instruments and their specific placement. If there is an island, additional instruments may be located there.
Under cabinet lights are the most commonly used form of task lighting. They are chosen to deliver a brightness level that will light work surfaces evenly at the countertops and eliminate shadows. At the island, pendants can be used to drop the lighting source closer to the surface being lit. This can be done in combination with recessed ceiling lights.
Pendant lights, in addition to their utility, contribute a decorative element. There are many, many styles to choose from. Pendants give the designer and client an opportunity to personalize the space with a “finishing touch.”
Putting It All Together
When thinking about kitchen lights, Leslie considers the type of surfaces being lit. She’s thinking about the reflective qualities and color tones of cabinets and counter tops. The lighting plan is designed to work specifically with that set of choices. For example, a glossy white marble counter top will need to have a more subdued light so that it doesn’t reflect a lot of glare. A darker countertop or one with a honed (dulled) surface would need to be hit with more brightness to bring out its colors. All of these considerations are standard in modern kitchen design as practiced here in the Washington DC metro area.