The kind of lighting we give to the kitchen or any of our home environments affects how we interact with the space. But, surprisingly, lighting is not considered to be as crucial as it should be when remodeling a kitchen. Other concerns like the appliances, the granite countertops, and the tiles usually come before lighting. So that explains why there’s usually always only a small fraction of the budget left for this critical element.

But lots of people fail to understand that they are drawn to light for a reason, and it is the manner in which lighting is layered in a space.

The BOSS Pro Sales Designer Blake McElveen stresses the importance of proper lighting. “Lighting is often the last decision people make when building or remodeling. It’s best not to cut corners with your lighting because it’s the best way to make a statement in your home. Great lighting will be one of the first things others will notice and remember.”

Layers of Light

It’s impossible to get all the “benefits” of light squeezed into one package that provides a glow for the cabinet, shines light over the island, and illuminates under cabinets. While some fixtures will multitask in their lighting duties, you need to first understand the four layers of light if you want to make a wise choice.

“Working in the shadows is difficult. Homeowners need to be able to read recipes, measure ingredients carefully, find things in the back of cupboards and chop up vegetables. All these tasks require proper lighting.” Notes McElveen.

McElveen adds, “When a work area is attractive you feel better about being in it.”

Task: This is the lighting that provides illumination for workspaces, such as the pantry closet, so the things stocked on the shelf can be seen clearly or countertops where you prepare food.

Accent:  This highlighting does a good job of adding dimension and depth to the environment. Some examples are track lights and recessed adjustable fixtures.

Decorative: This helps give the kitchen that attractive look. Decorative lighting is used to raise interest in a space. Some examples are candlestick-type wall sconces and chandeliers.

Ambient: This light slightly illuminates the room, bouncing off the ceiling. This effect can be achieved by using pendant-hung indirect fixtures, torchieres, and opaque wall sconces. It’s also possible to achieve this effect using can lighting.

Kitchen Lighting Trends and Styles

You will hardly find a single layer of light existing alone. Using only ambient light will make people look great as shadows will be nearly invisible, but there’s no dimension or depth, there’s little to no visual interest and it can be dangerous.

“Cooking, cleaning, or even doing homework can become hazardous in a kitchen that is not well lit.” said McElveen.

Incorporating only accent light gives you a museum effect. Every object in the space is lit, but family and friends are thrown into darkness.  The message you are simply passing across is that they are not as important as the things you own.

A perfect way to distract the eye is to use decorative lighting in a room. How many times have you seen a dining room that has only a chandelier over the table? In short, it’s not a good idea to only install decorative lighting.

Is the light layering process a bit daunting for you? Don’t worry; it’s possible to incorporate four layers of light into any room regardless of the size of a space. Often, fixtures can serve a number of purposes. For instance, the pendant lights serve decorative purposes, but they are also an ambient light source because they shine light up on the ceiling.

Light Up the Mood

Use the following lighting strategies to attract people into the kitchen.

Think creatively: Considering current open floor plans, it’s important for your kitchen lighting to illuminate adjacent areas of the home.

Having coordinating finishes is important. If bronze is used in the rest of your home fixtures, use bronze in the kitchen too. That way, the fixtures tend to blend with each other, and you will be able to see the open space as a whole.

Pendants that pop: Designers are taking fixtures to a new level. Instead of having a dinky pendant over the island, how about using one statement pendant or two larger pendants over an island?

Translucent fixtures: Ditching opaque fixtures and switching to fixtures with a lens on the underside helps in concealing the bulbs underneath and, at the same time, providing a glow.

Different shapes: Using drum-shaped fixtures and rectangular box-shaped lights draws increased interest to the kitchen. These approaches offer additional possibilities beyond the traditional box-shaped fixtures.

Lighting art:  With the kitchen becoming livelier and a great place to gather, as well as getting more wall space because of smart storage, framed photographs, canvasses and other pieces are being integrated into the space. Light plays an important role in revealing this artwork in the kitchen, and it’s the same for any other space in the home.

Adding a glow to cabinets:  Cabinets with a glass front or open shelving that displays beautiful pottery are lit inside. This helps in creating a more visual depth or interest.

Include toe kick lights: You can install lights underneath the cabinets to illuminate the floor beneath. This adds ambiance while also delivering a much-needed illumination at night.

Under-counter lighting: How about being able to see the inside of dark drawers when you open them? To achieve that, all you need to do is create a groove under the lip of a countertop and install a light in the groove.

McElveen gives these simple tips to get your lighting plan started, “Always be aware of size and scale. Avoid light covers that create shadows, and downlights are not always a good idea unless they are combined with another light source.”

If you are planning to get the right energy saving bulb, here are three qualities you should be looking for:

  1. Color temperature: You should go for a bulb that is between 2700 and 3600 Kelvin. That will blend well with your entire residential environment and also match the color temperature of incandescent lamping.
  2. CRI rating. This refers to color rendering index and indicates how color is interpreted. A light with a low CRI will have some more shades of gray. The number of rendered colors you will see depends on how high the CRI is. The recommended CRI is 80 or higher.
  3. Energy Star: This is a certification that indicates that the light bulb has been tested for longevity and possesses a CRI of at least 80.