The kitchen is often the center of the home, and it has become so much more than just a place to prepare food. It’s usually where guests congregate when entertaining, so it is essential to have task-oriented lighting as well as ambient, friendly lighting.
Layers of light
No one light fixture can do it all. Some fixtures can multi-task but to choose wisely, it is essential to understand that light needs to be layered.
Ambient lighting is the overall lighting of the room. This may be track lighting, pendant light or a chandelier to illuminate the room.
Pendant lighting is ideal for dining areas and over islands, offering ambient light at a lower level than recessed ceiling fixtures. This allows for more balanced overall lighting and some stylistic, visual interest.
Recessed ceiling lights are often used as the primary source of illumination in kitchens, and long-lasting energy-saving LEDs can be used. They offer a modern, stylish solution. Newer models of track lights are being introduced that use LED lighting.
Task lighting lights up a specific work area. This has to be brighter than ambient lighting, and it focuses light in the particular area.
Under-cabinet strip lighting is often used and is mounting it behind the fascia board hides it from view. Instead of shining in the eyes, it shines directly down onto the counter. LEDs are great for under-counter lighting because they stay cool and your hands won’t get hot working above them.
A glass countertop can be lit up from below with LED lights – this is not only functional but aesthetically appealing. LEDs can also be used as task lighting for dark corners, drawers and other areas that need more illumination.
Strip lighting is another good option for LED lights. They are very versatile and can be cut to length, offering a stylish lighting option. There are waterproof options to choose from.
An example of accent lighting is to mount LED strip lights in cabinets with glass doors. These lights shine at the back of the shelves and highlight the objects on the shelves. The slim profile of LED lights makes them perfect for this application.
Kickboards are another place where LED lights can be used to provide accent lighting and illumination at night.
Choosing the right LED lights
The lumens used on LED bulbs are different to wattage, so you may find it difficult to understand what to buy if you are used to going by wattage. Watts are used to measure energy use, not brightness.
LED bulbs come in a wide variety of “whites,” and the brightness is measured in kelvins. High Kelvin numbers indicate cooler lights. The intensity of lights ranges from brightest light and daylight to warmer, softer lights. As they evolve, so do your options, and every light casts a different shade.
In the task vast areas of the kitchen, you will be looking for brightness, and this is provided by 5,000 to 10,000 lumens and 4,600 to 6,500 kelvins for a bold, bright daylight color.
There are specific factors to keep in mind when selecting LED lights. The first is the number of kelvins. The second is the color rendering index (CRI). This is important because it is how the color is interpreted. For instance, a low CRI light will look grayer. The higher the CRI, the more color and a CRI of 80 or higher are best. An energy star will indicate that the light bulb has been through longevity testing and had a minimum of 80CRI.
Combining blue and warm color temperatures
Using a combination of color temperatures in the kitchen can serve different purposes. The blue light emitting LEDs help to keep you awake and alert while preparing breakfast. If you have a table in your kitchen, an overhead fixture using a warmer color temperature will help to balance out the blue light and give some ambiance.