ETotalHome - Lighting
Good lighting makes kitchens and bathrooms more enjoyable, and bad lighting – just the opposite. Specifying the right light for a new kitchen or bath requires knowing how light interacts with materials, users and tasks. Lighting can make or break how a kitchen functions, looks and feels. Don’t leave lighting decisions to the last minute for two reasons. First, lighting is an integral part of the design that affects the functionality and aesthetic of the room and should not be considered an afterthought. Second, moving light fixtures after installation can be costly because it often requires rewriting, patching and repainting. When we consider light for a new kitchen or bath, we look at the function and aesthetic, and we design to layer light to create images and colors that illuminate the space’s best feature. We take into account the manner in which light interacts with the form and texture of objects and materials in the area to produce different effects. Shining a beam of concentrated light on a countertop will create shadows and notable highlights depending on the form and texture of the countertop material. Diffused light (light scattered in all directions) minimizes shadows and textures and emphasizes form. Diffused light seems to wrap around objects giving them a softer appearance and helps reduce shadows. You achieve a softer, more pleasing look by diffusing light in the bathroom at a vanity and in front of a mirror used for grooming. We typically will specify ambient lighting to set the mood and for general illumination (along with natural light), task lighting for food preparation, cooking and clean up areas and accent lighting to draw attention to a specific design features.
Ambient LightingAmbient lighting is the base layer for all other lighting. The goal of ambient lighting is to provide soft, general illumination without necessarily drawing attention to the light source. Ambient lighting provides enough light for safe navigation and helps define the space. A central fixture or fixtures often produce ambient light in the kitchen. Typically, ambient light fixtures are surface-mounted ceiling lights, recessed ceiling lights or a cove lighting system where lights are hidden behind a molding dropped several inches from the ceiling. The best ambient light comes from sources that bounce light off the ceiling and walls. When light bounces off surfaces, the light is evenly distributed, minimizing the potential for glare and shadows. If a fixture is specified to reflect light off the ceiling, then the ceiling must be a light color. Dark surfaces absorb light instead of reflecting it back into the space. This is an important consideration when specifying lighting for countertops and in-drawer, in-cabinet and under-cabinet lighting. Flush-mounted fixtures in the center of the room are often the default to produce ambient light. While this works, it may not create the look or feel that you want to achieve nor complement your new cabinets, countertops or backsplash. Pendants may be a better option because pendants can better highlight task areas while providing general illumination. There are many ways to create ambient light. Ambient light should not be used by itself, because that will result in a space that lacks depth or dimension.
Task LightingAmbient lighting welcomes you into a room. Task lighting illuminates the activities that take place in a room. You can determine your task lighting needs by considering the actions that regularly take place in the kitchen. These may include:
- Meal preparation on countertops or at an island
- Cooking at a stove or cooktop
- Clean up at sinks
- Watching television
- Working at a desk