Finding the balance of lighting in your kitchen

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When you're considering a kitchen remodel, there are many things to keep in mind. Which material should you use for your countertops? What kind of appliances are you going to install? However, one of the most important areas of focus is lighting. Obviously, no chef can cook in the dark, so lighting is crucial to your kitchen area. There are three main types of lighting in kitchens: general, task and accent. Finding the balance between these three can be difficult, but the end result is a much more welcoming and well-lit kitchen.

General Lighting
Every kitchen needs some basic  lighting to be able to function in the space. Think of this type of lighting as the minimum lighting necessary to allow you to use your kitchen. Most general lighting is done with high hat cans that square off the room or flush mounted or hanging fixtures such as chandeliers or pendants that are placed over tables and islands. When working with high hats you should remember that light should be equal and balanced to ensure a comfortable environment. It can be distracting or disorienting to have dark areas in a kitchen. The size of chandeliers and pendants should be carefully considered and fit the scale of the room. If you have a very large island, two small pendants may not be enough to fill the space visually or give ample lighting. In contrast, a smaller kitchen should not have a huge ornate decorative fixture. You also want to be sure any hanging fixture clears the height of an average to tall person with a few inches to spare.

Task lighting
General lighting will be above and behind you, so when you are bent over the sink or counter, your head is in the way. Considering task lighting in these areas enables you to see what you are doing. Task lighting is generally used under cabinets and above the sink. There are many types of under cabinet lights available from Fluorescent lights, LED strips and pucks, Halogen pucks or Xenon and the list goes on. You would need to consult with your design professional as to which would be best suited for your kitchen.

Accent lighting
Accent lighting is what gives the kitchen the warmth or a scene that sets it apart from a standard utilitarian space. Accent lighting is put into glass cabinets to accent or showcase glass or ceramic collections. Sometimes accent lighting is used above open cabinets with high ceilings to give an ethereal glow, in toe kick spaces or even under island overhangs to create drama.

This kitchen remodel is the perfect example of a space that balances task and atmospheric lighting.
This kitchen remodel is the perfect example of a space that balances general and task lighting.

Mood
Putting your lighting on dimmers will help you control how much and where you saturate the light to create the mood you want. Each type of lighting should have its own control.

Most people don't realize how much lighting can effect the style and design of a kitchen. Our eyes are naturally drawn to areas with more light, so choose your focal points carefully. Additionally, now that you understand the different types of lighting, you should carefully plan how you will use each one in your kitchen remodel. It is important to layer the types of light you are using to get the most enjoyment. Striking a balance between style and function is always the goal in home improvement.