– Danny Della Lana –
Lighting Your Kitchen
When you are redoing your kitchen, whether it’s a quick spit shine or a full gut, kitchen lighting is among the most important details to get right. Don’t treat it as an afterthought! Light creates a mood and adds a design element to your space that can elevate it significantly.
And don’t forget to put dimmers on everything possible!
Think layers for lighting: ambient or general lighting, task for over counters and under cabinets, accent for interior cabinets and the thriller of the kitchen, decorative.
Ambient Kitchen Lighting
This is typically an overhead light. Recessed cans are a pretty common one that you see everywhere. They are hard working and get the job done.
They are also incredibly predictable and boring.
As an alternative, consider flush mount fixtures with a cool design perspective. Think warm-hued LED lights with high wattage to light the entire space. (No one likes a dark kitchen!) Be sure to use enough fixtures to light the space well.
Here are a couple that I like:
At my home, I built custom lights inspired by ones I had seen on vacation. Yes, they are on a dimmer.
Task Kitchen Lighting
These are the lights you use for specific purposes such as over counters for food prep. You want bright lights that remove shadows and make your work easier. Again, recessed lights strategically placed get the job done but think out of the box.
Consider using barn lights or sconces over the counter to add another design element to the space. It’s unexpected and a really nice way to add more design as you can get them in wide array of sized and colors.
In my kitchen, I used antique Jielde sconces sourced at a Paris flea market. You can find similar on eBay or new at multiple online retailers. I used dimmable LED lights because, of course, they are on a dimmer.
You should also add lights under all your upper cabinets for both task and accent lighting. It adds depth to the whole lighting package. Beware of the reflection of these lights on shiny countertops. You may be able to see the fixture or the individual lights in a strip which can bother some. Believe it or not, no dimmer needed here.
Accent Kitchen Lighting
If you choose glass-fronted cabinets, add a low wattage LED strip to highlight special pieces of glassware or crockery. It not only shows off your collection but also adds some visual interest to the space. If you want to be extra fancy, you can add interior lights to all your cabinets with a relay that turns the lights on when you open the doors and shuts it when you close. There are a lot of options out there including LEDs with remotes to change the color anytime you want — orange for Halloween, purple for your favorite football team, red, white and/or blue for 4th of July.
Other accent lighting can be added to under the toe kick or above the cabinets to give even more layers of light.
Decorative Kitchen Lighting
This is the money shot of lighting. These fixtures have a huge design impact on the space. They hang over island and tables or other spaces where you have the vertical space.
My philosophy is go big or go home.
This is almost purely a visual reference so you don’t need to worry about casing enough light or having a specific wattage. This is design for design sake and form does not need to follow function.
Think a fixture that you find in an antique store, a crystal chandelier in the middle of a modern kitchen, a kitschy piece that reminds you of your grandmother’s house, an antler chandelier in a city apartment. Anything goes.
I used a repurposed Parisian street lamp over my island that was also sourced at a flea market. And guess what? It’s on a dimmer.
Redoing a kitchen is among the biggest investments you can make in your home and lighting can really make or break your space. A poorly lit room feels uncomfortable and makes the space appear smaller. Give this detail its due and create a lighting package that highlights your space, creates a comfortable work environment and makes it shine! (And don’t forget those dimmers!)
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