Kitchens are essentially work rooms divided up into different stations. Overhead and natural lighting can be used to create the atmosphere and make the room feel lived in. When it comes time to get down to business, however, specific kinds of lighting can help make the job easier and will place less strain on the eyes.
Track and recessed lights work well to light the entire room. Unlike a drop-down ceiling light or chandelier that is normally found in the middle of the room, track/recessed lighting can be placed in various spots around the perimeter. This allows the entire room to be evenly lit. With the right kind of switch, the lights can be dimmed or turned on/off in sections.
Task lighting is normally placed where specific tasks or jobs are performed. A good example is the lighting placed directly over counters or islands. These work areas must be adequately illuminated if a person is going to see what they are doing and be able to do it well. Lights are often dropped down to place the light as close as possible to the work area without getting directly in the way of the person standing beneath it.
Undercabinet lighting is convenient and out of the way. It offers adequate light for tasks to be performed and also enough light to illuminate the room if the overhead lights have been turned off. Miniature track lights or small fluorescent lights are the most common. Low-voltage linear systems can also be used if the minimal lighting is needed.
Ceiling lights provide ample lighting and are normally placed in the center or over high traffic areas. Chandeliers are often placed over the dining area, while a dome or box light is placed in an area near the stove, sink and refrigerator. Fluorescent lights work well because they provide abundant light without being extremely bright. Ceiling lights placed near work areas rarely hang more than a few inches from the ceiling and should provide enough light to illuminate a large portion of the room.
Natural lighting offers a brightness that fluorescent and incandescent bulbs can’t. Keeping the curtains open on large windows can provide enough light to adequately light most kitchens. Skylights can be added in single story homes to add natural lighting if windows are extremely small.
When lighting a kitchen, the type of lights used is only a part of the equation. The rest involves where the lights are placed and how much light is going to be needed. Lights should be placed where they are needed the most: islands, counters, above the stove and sink. While general lighting is adequate for basic lighting needs, task lighting can direct light where it is needed during specific activities, such as food preparation, cooking and cleaning. Properly lighting a kitchen means knowing where most of the activity will take place and providing enough light to adequately see what has to be done.