The Best Lighting you can have in your kitchen is natural light. However, that can be tough to manage several months of the year, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully, during the months when the natural light is best, you will be outside grilling, and not that concerned about lighting in the kitchen. Kitchen lighting is pretty important the rest of the year, however.
The days of having a single fixture in the middle of the kitchen ceiling are hopefully long gone. That single light source simply isn’t up to the task of lighting the whole kitchen the way it needs to be.
If you take the attitude that the kitchen is primarily a workplace, then it is easy to see how important lighting is. Whether the workplace is an artist’s studio or not depends upon the attitude of the cook, but any cook will have a better time of it if they are able to see what they are doing.
For many families, the kitchen is an important gathering place. Homes that use the kitchen table as the family’s primary eating and gathering place find that the kitchen also becomes the place where kids do homework and projects are accomplished.
Designers tell us there are several kinds of lighting necessary in a kitchen. These include ambient, task, accent, and decorative lighting. In keeping with kitchen as work space theme, we will concentrate on ambient and task lighting. Ambient light refers to the overall lighting of the room. Usually we think of the central light as providing ambient light, but multiple sources can do a better job.
Fluorescent fixtures are often called upon for ambient lighting but many people complain that fluorescent can be cold and industrial feeling. Traditional incandescent lighting is usually “warmer” and more natural feeling. Because of their inefficient use of energy, incandescent lights are falling out of favor. Many of the newer compact fluorescents give a warmer light, but they lack dimming control. This is another reason to use multiple fixtures.
Task lighting allows the cook to see what he or she is doing in the kitchen. The importance of this becomes obvious when you begin to consider the number of moving and hot appliances, as well as sharp knives the cook deals with. In addition to actual cooking tasks, cleanup is much simpler if you can actually see what you are cleaning.
Most range ventilation hoods include a light to allow you to better see what you are doing over the stove, but a light over the sink and over the counter-tops are very handy. The limited space under cabinets is a terrific spot to use small fluorescent fixtures.
From a purely decorative stand point, the options in kitchen lighting are nearly limitless. There is no reason to be stuck with a purely functional fluorescent tube in the center of the ceiling. Whether your kitchen is modern, traditional, country, or some other theme, you will be able to find lighting fixtures that are both beautiful and functional.