Not even the great Julia Child could cook in the dark. Without the proper lighting, no chef can cook at their best, and no kitchen can truly come alive.

“As the heart of a home, kitchens have different lighting needs than other rooms,” Deering Hall tells Forbes.

Do they ever. Without the right lighting, your kitchen loses its ambience, comfort level, and most importantly, its ability to effectively serve as the food preparation, work and social center of your home.

“A well-lit work area is a safety essential in a kitchen,” Better Homes & Gardens notes.

As any frustrated, starting-over-from-scratch kitchen renovator can tell you, finding the right lighting formula for your kitchen isn’t as simple as one plus one equals two or hydrogen plus oxygen equals water. But it’s not rocket science either.

“The key to good kitchen lighting,” BH&G.com stresses, “is to relay on a cast of lighting sources and to layer your lights, mixing ambient (overall), task, and accent decorative lighting with natural light.”

Don’t let the sun go down on your kitchen remodel by not properly investing in lighting.

“Lighting is often the last thing considered in a (kitchen) design and a the first thing cut from a budget,” nationally renown designer Randall Whitehead told DIY Network.

You need to light your kitchen for all activities it hosts, from cooking to entertaining to office work to homework. No one light can do this demanding job alone. As BH&G stresses, well-lit kitchens encompass three types of lighting:

  • General: Basic light for the room
  • Task Lighting: Light that highlights a specific work area
  • Accent Lighting: Light that creates a focal point in the room

So how do we turn the right lights on for our kitchen?

Know Your Space

The lighting process starts with knowing your space. The number of light fixtures and placement locations depends on your kitchen’s size, layout and look. Taller ceiling and darker finishes require more light.

  • Cooking Light: Don’t go with the flashlight approach. It is essential to have adequate light and a good distribution of light for general illumination. Employing multiple light sources allows for light to come in from different directions.
  • Under-Cabinet Accent Lighting: Shadow-free and providing a nice architectural feature, under-cabinet lighting emphasizes the shape and counter of the kitchen.
  • Island Lighting: Simple recessed down lights to pendants and decorative lights all provide both ambience and clear work lighting.

Rules Of Light

Here are smart lighting tops that can make your kitchen shine with vibrant, effective light:

  • Beware of Heights: For spacing, ensure you have at least 30-32 inches of space between your island’s counter and the fixture’s lowest-hanging point.
  • Watch Your Wattage: How much power do you need? Multiple the square footage of your countertop area by 2.5 to deduct how many watts of incandescent light you will need.
  • The Light Measure: Be sure to select the right lighting based on the size of your space and counter you’re covering. Most islands are covered by two or three small pendants, but larger islands require as many as four small lights. Chandeliers offer wowing coverage for marble islands.
  • Go Off The Wall: With kitchens with plenty of wall space, accent lighting can come from super stylish sources like sconces.

Remember, the most effective and attractive kitchen lighting designs include task lighting to give you the best lighting where you really need it and add accent lighting for visual interest, and complete kitchen brightness with general lighting.

“Combine all three layers of light with the right kitchen light fixtures and dimmers, and you’ve got a recipe for kitchen design success,” Lightology.com concludes.

For a kitchen to look its best and function well, it must be properly lit.

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