What’s Cooking in Kitchen Lighting?
Five tips to get the most from kitchen lighting
If you think today’s kitchens are being designed exclusively for cooking, you missed the memo that kitchens are the epicenter of modern-day life. “These days the kitchen is a lot more than a place to prepare food,” says architect Jeffrey Klug of Butz + Klug in Boston. “It’s a place to socialize, to entertain, a place to read the mail and pay bills, to do homework and to have family conversations, the activities of life.” Such demands call for a variety of lighting considerations and solutions. “Lighting a kitchen is a delicate balance and can easily cross the line of being over- or under-designed,” says Klug. To help you strike the right balance, we asked experienced designers for some helpful kitchen lighting tips.
1. Layers of lighting
Lighting has evolved. Where once a single ceiling fixture indiscriminately cast light about the room, layers of lighting illuminate various spaces and create ambiance when desired. “The different layers usually consist of overall lighting (ceiling lights), pendant lights over an island, peninsula or breakfast nook, under cabinet lights and accent lighting in a glass-front cabinet,” says Randy Trainor of C. Randolph Trainor Interiors in Franconia, New Hampshire. “Each one/layer should be on its own dimmer. Magic happens when one is able to adjust the lights for the mood you desire. Of course,” she adds, “with home automation, being able to set the lights at the preferred levels has become much easier.”
2. Bold fixtures
“The days of dainty pendants are over,” says lighting designer Lucy Dearborn of Lucia Lighting and Design in Lynn, Massachusetts. She notes designers are driving demand for fixture that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. Among current popular choices are solid large-scale metal shades that work with the proportions of today’s kitchens. Designer Eileen Patterson agrees that fixtures can add character as well as illumination to a kitchen.
3. Creating a vibe
LED lighting plays a major role in the vibe of a kitchen. It’s all about the K values, that is, the Kelvin measurement of the color temperature or light color of LEDs. The Kelvin temperature controls how you “see and feel the light,” says Dearborn. Clients can tweak lighting to achieve the preferred ambiance. For instance, to maintain a bright white in a mostly white kitchen, you would use a 3,000 to 3,500K LED. However, in a room with wood cabinets, you may want a softer tone and select 2,700K. “We also try to use a lens that reduces glare,” says Klug, “and LED fixtures with a variable color temperature when dimmed, emulating the effect of an incandescent light. We look for these same qualities when specifying any concealed or under-counter lighting.” The kitchen is the ideal place to use a so-called scene-based lighting system programmed to meet a wide variety of scenarios.
It’s all about the K values, that is, the Kelvin measurement of the color temperature or light color of LEDs. The Kelvin temperature controls how you “see and feel the light.”
4. Set a mood
Installing a variety of lighting options allows you to experiment with light levels so you can set the mood you want for the task at hand, says Trainor. Turn the lights up when the kids are doing homework at the kitchen island, tone it down for a quiet supper. Keep lights bright lights above your cooktop but soften the glow where friends are gathering for cocktails.
5. Task first
After task lighting requirements have been satisfied, says Klug, ambient lighting is free from the obligation of high performance. You can then select from a variety of brilliantly designed fixtures that let you see things in a new light.
Butz + Klug Architecture – Bkarch.com/
157 West Newton St., Boston MA 02118
C. Randolph Trainor Interiors – Crtinteriors.com/
651 Main St., Franconia, NH 03580
Lucia Lighting & Design –Lucialighting.com/
311 Western Ave., Lynn, MA 01904
The Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric –Rockinghamlightingcenter.com/
437 Shattuck Way, Newington, NH 03801