The Biggest Kitchen Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

We all know that lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of a space and transform it from functional to atmospheric but also has the ability to reduce functionality when placed incorrectly. Getting the lighting right in a kitchen may seem easy, but there are definitely some pitfalls to avoid and some tips to implement for your kitchen renovation.

Overall Lighting Design

Gone are the days when kitchens were only used to prepare and cook food. Nowadays kitchens are multi-purpose spaces that are often open-plan and used by absolutely everyone in the family at nearly all times of the day.

Lighting will need to be considered for multiple activities in the kitchen which mean there will be some things to do, and some to avoid. Lighting can get expensive very quickly so a well-planned design for your kitchen will avoid utilising too much of your renovation budget in that area. You definitely don’t want to be retrofitting lighting after your renovation has been completed.
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Colour of the Light

This has to be one of the most important considerations. Soft warm light isn’t as bright but much more pleasing to the eye and much better for nighttime or small areas of light. Obviously, this isn’t ideal in the daytime when you probably want bright light to blend with the natural daylight you have and assist when preparing meals, doing homework etc. We know from our mobile devices that white light stimulates our daytime body rhythms and more yellow light helps our nighttime rhythms.

Most kitchens will need a balance of the two unless the kitchen is strictly functional (like a restaurant or commercial kitchen for example). A well-considered lighting scheme will ensure your kitchen space has the right type of lighting in all of the right places.

Types of Kitchen Lighting

Ambient – This creates a diffused but evenly spread light level in a room and nearly always with warm yellow light. This is most commonly applied by using a downlight and can be blended or overridden in small specific areas with brighter lighting. Dimmers are effective and the height of the downlight is too. Wall downlights are great in combination but will add more cost due to wiring. Placing centrally only will cause a shadow wherever you are so whilst this seems like a good way to cut costs, it usually isn’t. Balancing enough rather than having too many is key, otherwise you will have gaps or it will be too bright.

Task Lighting – This is usually close white lighting in a kitchen above your stove or preparation area so that even at night you don’t ruin the ambient lighting whilst still being able to do whatever you need. LED strip lighting under overhead cabinets is perfect for countertops and LED spotlights are ideal for cookers and islands. Not having any task lighting and just a bright kitchen will ultimately mean you have a kitchen that has no atmosphere and seem dull even though brightly lit.

Accent & Decorative Lighting – Technically these are two different types of lighting but unless you have a huge kitchen then they can be combined. This type of lighting isn’t practical, purely decorative to show off artwork, show off splashbacks or used near the floor. Using strip lighting above overhead cabinets or a few carefully positioned uprights aimed at the ceiling will create more space. In-cabinet lighting is also now affordable and effective in glass cabinets.

Other Considerations

You will have to factor in the natural light you have available and also how you use your island if you have one. Islands can often be for food prep and dining which would require different colours. Having pull-down lights above tables or islands can be great for dining and separately aiming some LED spots is perfect for food prep. You will also need to factor in what wiring you currently have to incorporate the perfect blend of lighting for your kitchen so planning all this with your kitchen renovation company is highly recommended.