You could say that the kitchen is the most multi-tasking room in the home. Traditionally it had been a place to prepare food. Increasingly it has rested the function of eating from the dining room and seemingly it has ambitions to become the very epicentre of the household. In fact, IKEA’s vision of the 2025 kitchen area recently described the space as the hub of a family home that operated as an intelligent functional space with a personal assistant built-in!
Like many others, my family operates entirely out of the kitchen, from preparing daily meals, lunch boxes, mastering homework and even entertaining friends. Certainly, food preparation areas need to be shadow free and bright but the space needs to make a seamless transition to a relaxing living space too. Lighting is the principle factor in this change of scene.
Here are some tips on lighting a modern kitchen – whatever the style – from farmhouse to modern sleek. I have included our quick tips video on the topic for easy reference too.
1. Light the ceiling where you can reflecting light at 4000K colour temperature will lighten the space, particularly during the day.
Note: you will need a 300mm minimum fall (by flex or drop rods) to make it worthwhile. Consider 2 lines of LED strip – cooler white (4000K) in the day and 2700K for the evening. The light needs to bounce back into a wide space for full effect.
2. Areas for food preparation need higher levels of light – aim for around 500 lux by running warm white fluorescents or strips of high output LED under wall cabinets is always successful.
Note: reflecting light off the wall under a wall cabinet helps throw the light towards you and ensures working in a shadow-free work surface. Throwing light on walls helps push them back and apparently widens a space too.
3. Downlights – are a great way to introduce much needed higher levels of illumination – so position them in line of the edge of worktops. 3000K colour temperature suits most kitchens perfectly.
Note: If the budget can afford it – a high CRI LED (95RA) will give the best results for wonderful food and interior colour rendition. You require at least 650lm per downlight or double up LED lamps by using twin downlight fixtures. Dimming is useful for the multi-task uses of the hub of the home.
4. Create an accent light – consider the lower level of illumination to transform your space from more functional to ambient. Try adding pendants or table lights particularly if the ceiling height is over 2.4m.
Note: Wall lights or dropped pendants throw light through the space and help balance the predominant downward direction of lighting.
5. Kitchens become a scenery backdrop at night in open plan living areas – use plinth lights on separate circuits to use the space itself as an accent light for the family room.
Note: Plinth lighting is a useful night light or background illumination by giving low-level illumination that is subtle yet remaining useful.
Overall, remember the key to great lighting design is not to over light, as this will flatten the interior and make it appear bland. Make sure each chosen light fixture is doing a specific job – do not be tempted to just line up downlights to random throw light onto the floor. If it’s not doing a particular task – cut it from the scheme.
Breaking circuits down is a key to optimum control – these can be integrated into a sophisticated controls package or assigned simply to a manual on and off when required.
Always think about how light can be thrown up and down to contribute to illuminating the ceiling and floor respectively and remain aware of those reflected surfaces and their contribution to the aggregate illumination.