Developing a kitchen lighting plan in today’s custom home will more than likely require more than simply picking out fixtures as light sources. Today’s kitchens are much larger and multifunctional than they were in the past. In addition to their traditional role as food storage and preparation areas, kitchens have evolved into dining and entertainment areas, often serving as the hub of home entertainment, presentations, and social events. To accommodate the multipurpose use of the kitchen, lighting plans have to do more than provide light to see by. They must create mood and ambience by layering illumination in complex patterns of both general and decorative lighting, and they must regulate these layers with some form of wallbox lighting control.
Many new home builders are already aware of these requirements and incorporate some sort of kitchen lighting design into the blueprints. Most of these designs call for three way switches that allow for multiple fixtures to be controlled from two or three key locations within the kitchen. While this is one way to effectively regulate lighting in the kitchen, there is much better and more sophisticated way that can also provide added value in power savings and extended lamp life. This method involves replacing three way switches with dimmers and linking them to a lighting control system. This type of kitchen lighting design plan will allow the homeowner to not only precisely adjust the lighting level of each individual fixture manually, but will also provide optional lighting scenes to be called up from pre-programmed memory banks, effectively setting the mood instantly with the push of a button. For those who intend to entertain family and friends on a regular basis, lighting the kitchen in this manner offers many more options than manual switches can provide, and saves electricity through precision lighting control settings that only dimmers can provide.
Controlling a ceiling light source is only one aspect of kitchen lighting planning, however. The functional and practical side of illumination and power management can easily be regulated by turning up a dimmer to full power to brightly illuminate the environment. What do you do, however, when the quality of light itself proves insufficient in comparison to a decorative theme? Today’s marble countertops, ornate kitchen tiles, custom cabinets, and accentuated coves and valances will not look nearly as attractive under some forms of light than they will more technologically advanced lighting sources. We see this problem a great deal with fluorescent kitchen lights. Often installed by builders as power saving luminaires intended to eventually replace incandescent technology, fluorescents offer a super savings on electric bills but present a number of challenges when it comes to aesthetics. Typically, these recessed lights simply do not render color as well as incandescent lamps. They also operate at fixed levels, meaning they cannot be controlled by dimmers and thus neutralize any custom kitchen lighting plan you may envision for home entertainment and special occasions.
ILD recommends replacing fluorescent and incandescent fixtures with kitchen lights powered by halogen lamps. Although halogen technology is actually based on the same principles of incandescent lighting, it is much more highly evolved, more energy efficient, and offers the best color rendering of any light source in the world. (In fact, halogen bulbs are used to light fine art) Even better, halogen lights can be dimmed to low levels and rendered competitive with fluorescent lights in terms of energy saving ability. Kitchen lighting themes planned around halogen sources for general lighting can then be enhanced by any number of decorative and accent lighting sources such as undercabinet lights, valance lights, and specialty pendant lights. Care must be taken not to “overdo” the decorative aspect of lighting, as accent is always best achieved with a less-is-more approach to physical equipment that is carefully concealed and angled in such a way as to add subtle tones of light over more obvious layers of task and functional lighting.
As more people continue to move away from nights out on the town toward more family and home-oriented events, why not bring your kitchen into a whole new light with the help of a lighting professional who can help you achieve such results in both your kitchen and the rest of your home? Illuminations Lighting Design will start you on that path with a fee based consultation and a plan of action toward a wise investment in lasting outcome. Contact us now at 713-863-1133 to schedule an appointment and get started today.