How to design kitchen lighting
T his article was first published in April, 2013. It has been updated for the current season.
From reworking your downlight strategy to learning how to light glass cabinet, design director of John Cullen, Sally Storey, reveals how to get the right light for preparing food and setting the mood in your kitchen.
No more grids
Forget grids of downlights; use light only where it is required. Work surfaces need good task lighting, whether it is from downlights or pendants.
As well as adding impact and visual interest, a row of pendants over an island will help provide a visual divide between the dining and kitchen areas.
Don’t block your worktop
Under-cupboard lighting is usually best for task lighting because it is well hidden and stops your shadow obscuring the worktop. The latest LED products have less heat output, which saves money and prevents cupboards and food becoming too warm.
Using a continuous Contour LED strip or individual fittings of only two watts is an easy way to create practical and attractive lighting.
T hink creatively about where you put your light sources. For example, incorporating lighting below an island unit will make it appear to float. In kitchens with high ceilings, try adding uplights to the tops of cabinets. It adds general light to the space so you will need fewer downlights.
Use more than one light
Layer the light. I’ve mentioned general and task lighting, but also add some accent and ambient lighting. Using a number of different sources lends a more ‘three-dimensional’ feel and so helps you create the mood you want.
E ach source should be controlled individually so that the scheme can create anything from the feeling of bright daylight to an intimate atmosphere over dinner.
Go for warm lights
5 The latest developments of LEDs means the most recent downlights are only eight or 10W rather than 50W. A large kitchen with 14 downlights and under-cupboard lighting can now be lit with only 200 watts.
Be sure to check the packaging for a colour temperature of around 2,700 Kelvin and a CRI (Colour Rendition Index) over 90 to ensure you end up with a warm, attractive light.
Manipulate the space
I f your kitchen or dining area is small, you can increase the sense of space by using directional spotlights angled towards the cupboards and walls. The light is reflected back into the room and is much more effective than shining the light straight down at the floor.
Keep lights close to the wall
Try to ensure that lights fitted near hobs fit flush to the wall or ceiling – making them easy to wipe clean. Using fittings with a covered glass is ideal.
Consider the eye
If using track lights, the key is to position the track so that spotlights never shine in your eye. Too often the track is located in the centre of a kitchen, meaning a central island may be lit effectively but people sitting to one side are in danger of being either in shadow or full glare.
S pots should be placed where you need the light. Selecting directional versions gives added flexibility. For example, lights over a kitchen counter often work best placed above the edges of the counter, but angled across it to create glare-free lighting.
Think about the inside
W ith glass cabinets, I prefer to light them internally. They become almost like wall lights, so make sure you don’t mind people seeing what you have inside them.