Kitchen Lighting – Accentuated
It’s not news to you that the kitchen serves more purposes than just as a place to prepare food. Another obvious function it serves is as a place to eat that food, too, but there is so much more to it than that. It can be a place of congregation—you might host a game night there, or you might just spend a night sharing a few drinks with a friend there too. It can be a place of solace you seek when you’ve had a day that was less than ideal.
The different purposes the kitchen serves can also call for variations on the lighting you need to set the mood and environment for each of them as well. There’s a lot that can go into it and a lot of concepts to discuss: the difference between task lighting, ambient lighting, and even accent lighting; ideal light placement; and even ideal lighting elements and methods. Let’s take some time to go into each of these a little deeper to help spark some kitchen lighting ideas that are most appropriate to help your kitchen fit all of your needs and to meet the expectations you have for it, regardless of the purpose it serves at any given moment.
Shedding Light on Light Classifications
The basics of kitchen lighting are often confused, so that’s the best place for us to start. You have to start by thinking about how your lighting is going to help you in certain situations. There are three base lighting classifications:
- Ambient Lighting
This type of lighting is intended to fill a room with a warm and welcoming atmospheric glow. That’s mostly it. It’s there to set the mood, to give enough light to move by, essentially. This type of lighting can be accomplished with wall-mount fixtures, table lamps, or even track or recessed kitchen lighting.
- Task Lighting
Food prep is often of the utmost importance in the kitchen, which makes task lighting the most commonly used classification. These are the lights that help you chop the veggies, cut the meat, mix the dough. This is how you see what you are doing so you can do it well and efficiently. This type of lighting is often achieved by placing a light source between your head and your work surface, which makes under cabinet kitchen lights a very common solution here.
- Accent Lighting
Accent lighting and decorative lighting are often confused because their main function is largely the same: to add depth and dimension to a kitchen area. These are often very low-wattage light sources that can do things like illuminate cabinet interiors.
These three classifications branch out into many different kitchen lighting ideas and kitchen lighting solutions, but let’s focus on accent lighting for a little bit since that’s an area that can really add a lot of character to your kitchen.
Choosing the Right Accent Lighting Elements
You’re probably at least a little familiar with the different types of lighting elements: LED, fluorescent, rope lights, track or recess lighting. But some of these serve different purposes better than others. Fluorescent lighting for instance doesn’t do much to enhance the atmosphere of a room, and therefore might be better suited for task lighting. The same could be said for track or recessed kitchen lighting. When it comes to accent lighting there are many benefits of LED kitchen lighting you should consider.
LED lighting generally generates less heat and requires less energy to produce, which are two of the most important factors when it comes to lighting that is not exactly essential in a kitchen—or any room for that matter.
Choosing the Right Light Placement
LED lighting is easy to place in more compact spaces, like inside wall cabinetry. This type of lighting can add an unrivaled touch of additional lighting to make your kitchen really pop when entertaining friends or even when just coming down in the night for a midnight snack.
As we’ve said before, under cabinet kitchen lights can be great when looking for kitchen lighting solutions in the task category, but small LED lights placed here can be a nice touch, too. Above counter kitchen lighting can be good for either task or accent lighting.
Other options to consider can be above-cabinet lighting, which can add a nice glowing effect to the tops of your cabinets (as long as they don’t extend to the ceiling, of course). You can often even use the same LED lights on top of your cabinets that you would inside of them; many come with sticky pads that allow you to attach them to almost any surface. This flexibility is just another one of the benefits of LED kitchen lighting.
An increasing trend in kitchens today is that of “toe lighting,” which is illumination at the bottom or your cupboards or cabinets near the floor of your kitchen. Placing lights right near the toe kick of your base cabinets can also help navigating your kitchen at night, but it can also be used to give a kitchen island or counter a nice little spotlight that doesn’t necessarily have to come from above.
Tune the Lights for You
Lighting your kitchen, like many of the other design choices you’ll have to make, ultimately all about you and your preferences. Don’t sacrifice function for fashion—make sure you balance your task lighting with your accent and ambient lighting, too. You can spend a lot of money making a kitchen that looks nice, only to go to use it for the first time and realize you’re unable to perform the basic functions you need to in it.
Consider dual purpose lights when planning everything out. Maybe your above counter kitchen lighting can be dimmable so that it can serve as both task lighting when you need it and as accent lighting when you don’t. Some little tricks like this can save you a lot of money in the long run and can also help to simplify your kitchen along the way.
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