What’s the Best Lighting For the Kitchen?


The kitchen is the heart of the home. Besides a place where meals are prepared, the kitchen is central to many utilitarian activities. It’s also one of the most popular places in the home to entertain guests. People gather in the kitchen to mingle, nibble on food and relax during social gatherings. Kids work on their school projects on the kitchen counter, too. For these reasons, it is essential that the kitchen’s lighting is versatile.

Begin with the available natural light in the home’s kitchen. Effectively using natural light is an excellent way to reduce energy usage and brighten up the kitchen at the same time. Consider installing two or more large windows in the kitchen to allow daylight to pour into the home. Another way to let natural light into the kitchen is by installing a skylight. Skylights provide an open feel to the kitchen as well as letting in plenty of daylight. A less expensive alternative to a traditional skylight is a light tube. These tubes, or light pipes, are designed to transport light from one area to another by using advanced optics. Some light tubes even have a built-in shutter controlled by a traditional light switch.

Main kitchen lights are typically installed in panels above the center of the kitchen. Traditional florescent tubes or cold-cathode florescent lamps should be used due to their much greater efficiency over incandescent bulbs. Several color temperatures are available to suit personal tastes. Decorative panels are available to hide the main kitchen lamps and diffuse the light.

A separate light source above the kitchen sink should also be installed. Usually, a single lamp on its own switch is sufficient. This lamp’s color temperature should be warmer than the main kitchen lights to add contrast. Be sure that the sink’s light is very bright.

Accent lighting above the kitchen table and counter provide even more versatility. Lamps that hang down from the ceiling are ideal. The lamp shades offer another opportunity to add flare to the kitchen’s decor. These lamps should be configured on a dimmer switch with compatible bulbs to allow variation in their brightness.

Under-cabinet lighting adds the final touch to the kitchen’s lighting system. These lamps should be on two or three highly localized switches. Under-cabinet lights configured this way can throw light upon specific areas of the kitchen and pleasantly complete the kitchen’s lighting system.