Tips on Choosing Lighting for Your Kitchen Renovation Project

Kitchen lighting

Designers combine many elements in a kitchen renovation project, including cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, flooring and appliances. Lighting plays a major role in the overall design and can highlight other attractive elements, as well as enhance the practicality of this important space. Choose lighting that works for the room, with adequate spacing, strength and fixtures.

Efficiency is Essential

People spend a lot of time in their kitchen. Other than your bedroom, where sleep makes lighting less important, the kitchen serves as a hub for dining, social gatherings, work, study and often as a traffic area. Because these activities happen at all times of the day, efficiency is essential in lighting design. Choose affordable lights that work well for an extended period of time.

Several types of light bulbs are available for use in your kitchen renovation, including:

  • Incandescent - the most common form of bulb, this light will deliver a few hundred hours of illumination and is currently being phased out due to inefficient design. Although this style is cheap to install and replacement bulbs cost less than other options, incandescent lighting fixtures are expensive to operate and offer lower performance levels than the alternates.
  • Fluorescent - not limited to the long tubular bulbs often found in industrial settings, CFLs or compact fluorescent bulbs are relatively affordable to install and replace and provide much more illumination and better performance. Output for a 35-watt CFL is equal to or better than a 100-watt incandescent and lasts between 100 to 500 percent longer in typical household applications. Look for bulbs rated by Energy Star, which claim to operate with 75 percent less energy than a typical incandescent.

  • Halogen - this type of bulb is popular in recessed fixtures and provides efficiency levels somewhere between incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Halogens do tend to create a “hot spot” or uneven illumination, but when designed correctly, halogen fixtures will provide comfortable lighting for your kitchen space.
  • LEDs - a more expensive bulb that is only beginning to make a mark in residential home designs, LED (or light-emitting diodes) lighting provides more than three times the performance of a typical fluorescent and far surpasses the lifespan and dependability of an incandescent or halogen. This style of light provides a cooler tone and is most often used in accent lighting, under-cabinet fixtures and for task lighting.

Opt for Perfect Placement

Your kitchen renovation includes three types of lighting:

  • Ambient - used for overall room illumination, often created with ceiling fixtures or recessed lighting
  • Task - used to brighten certain areas where work is performed, such as the countertop or built-in desk space, often created with under-cabinet or strip lighting
  • Accent - used to spotlight architectural or artistic features, often created with smaller spotlights or strip lighting fixtures installed in key areas

Figure out what type of lighting is required in each area and focus on designing lighting in layers. This allows you to add or subtract light as required. Remember that your electrician should wire the lighting to allow for unnecessary fixtures and bulbs to be turned off without affecting the most-used fixtures and bulbs.

Special features, such as dimmer switches, are used with ambient lighting, but make less sense with specific styles like accent or task lighting.

Natural lighting adds ambient light. If your kitchen renovation includes new or larger windows, the amount of daytime ambient lighting may be affected. But remember that your kitchen does not shut down when the sun goes down. Adequate ambient lighting allows you to enjoy this space at any time of the day and in any season.

Consider Standing Lights for Safety

Many families prefer to leave a standing light on in the kitchen, allowing for safe passage in this busy area during the late hours. The area over your sink provides a popular place for this safety light, although more modern kitchen designs are opting to install toe-kick or ankle-level strip lighting fixtures for this purpose. Lights in this location add drama to the space by “lifting” the cabinets.

LEDs provide an efficient, dependable bulb for this type of fixture. Remember to look for a design that can handle some wear and tear; cabinets at floor level often get kicked, bumped and beaten more than any other area.

A standing light over the sink can also serve as task lighting, while ankle-level lights are more of a dramatic option. Decide which is best for your room, or choose something entirely unique, based on the budget, room design and personal preferences.

What Type of Switches?

Remember to consider the switch design when planning the lighting in your kitchen renovation. The style of fixture determines appearance and performance, while switches often dictate convenience and comfort.

Always opt for a three-way switch for ambient lighting. Make sure to mount a main switch at each entrance to the room, allowing for control of the ambient lights no matter where one comes in.

Wireless switches may be an option in your kitchen. Operating in the same way as a garage door opener, this type of switch can be installed quickly, but may provide spotty performance, depending on the quality and distance. Wireless switches do not click when used, unlike standard switches, and can be mounted onto nearly any material, including glass and stone.

Try to have each separate area wired to a single switch. For instance, the sink, stove, island and dining area should have a separate switch. This allows for efficient use without sacrificing on convenience. Think about double switches and incorporating outlets with the light switches for optimum use of the space.

Your lighting design makes a major difference to the feel and appearance of your new kitchen. Be sure to think about the decisions and choose fixtures that suit your style and dècor. Include ambient, task and accent lighting and purchase the most efficient bulbs your budget allows. Install three-way switches and consider whether wireless switches will work for your family. All of these options will come together in the ideal lighting design that transforms your kitchen renovation into something spectacular.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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