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Kitchen Lighting for Atmosphere and Practicality

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 19 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Lighting Kitchen Atmosphere Practical

Lighting in a kitchen is perhaps more important than in any other room in the house as it's vital to be able to see when you're preparing and cooking food. Apart from the dangers of cutting yourself when chopping food you need to be able to see that food and surfaces are properly clean to avoid nasty bugs and illnesses.

There's also now a design imperative for a modern kitchen to be lit for ambience and atmosphere as well as practicality. To some extent this depends on whether your kitchen is just a kitchen or whether it forms part of a dining area or perhaps even an open plan multi-purpose living area in a contemporary interior.

Practical and Versatile Kitchen Lighting

With practical lighting the key is to look at the areas where light will be required for food preparation. The days of one central light bulb are long gone and modern fitted kitchens lend themselves to innovative lighting set ups. Fluorescent tubes or more eco-friendly LED spot lamps can be let into the underside of wall cabinets over the work surfaces. This is perfect for preparing food as the light comes down onto the chopping surface so you don't overshadow the worktop.

Sinks are another area where strong downlighting is required, especially if the sink isn't by a window. There are unlikely to be wall cupboards nearby to suspend lights from so you are most likely looking at spots let into the ceiling. These can be grouped in a unit that connects into a traditional ceiling rose or individual spots dotted around the kitchen. If you choose the latter, it's well worth paying the extra for movable spots so that you can swivel them to fine tune the placing of the pools of light.

Make sure that other areas are well lit such as the area near the oven, so that you can see clearly as you remove hot food from it. Also look at areas where large doors, like those of a larder unit, might cast a long shadow when they're open.

Switches Matter Too

Think about switches too. Make sure that all light switches are easily accessible and don’t create situations where, as an example, you have to put your hand over a toaster or kettle to switch on an under-cupboard light. If you have more than one door to the kitchen try and ensure that most, if not all the separate lights in the kitchen can be switched on or off from both of them.

Kitchen Lights for Atmosphere and Mood

From an atmosphere point of view, try and identify groups of lights that can be switched on and off separately to change the mood. If you have a kitchen diner, try and arrange it so that the lights in the kitchen area can be turned off once the meal is prepared. If you have installed softer lights in the dining area this will not then be overpowered by the brighter kitchen lights.

If your kitchen is part of a large open plan living space with family areas and lounge areas as well as dining then you will need to take this concept a lot further, using groups of lights to help divide up the different 'rooms' within the one area. Dimmer switches can help to create pools of soft or bright lighting in the appropriate areas but check that your chosen light fittings will work with them before installation.

Don't Forget Older, More Romantic Lights

Of course, you can also consider candles to replace or complement the dining lighting, nothing helps the atmosphere more than candlelight.

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