At Andrea Hylton Home, we like to say that the key to a successful project is to Finish Before You Start™. In other words, before any work begins, your project should be fully designed, planned and budgeted for, with all significant purchases being made upfront. For kitchen remodels, this means accounting for the usual big-ticket items – cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances – but also procuring the smaller details that may be unavailable for purchase later on, such as window coverings, rugs and light fixtures.
Planning and budgeting for proper lighting will allow your kitchen to truly shine, illuminating your gorgeous finishes and creating the perfect ambiance for every occasion. After all, the kitchen is the heart of a home and, whether you are prepping brunch for early afternoon guests or simply sneaking down for a midnight snack, your kitchen must be able to adapt to different light conditions to always looks its best.
If treated as an afterthought, your kitchen’s lighting will inevitably have a tacked on appearance, often accompanied by bright spots and shadowy areas. To avoid this, we begin creating a lighting plan as early into the design phase as possible. A detailed lighting budget must also be established – including both the price of fixtures and the cost of professional installation – to ensure that money is set aside and not spent on larger, more expensive purchases. These seemingly insignificant, upfront decisions will have long term implications, saving you from having to skimp on finishes later on.
Diagram of different residential lighting fixtures. From left to right: wall mounted, suspended, ceiling mounted, floor lamp, spotlight, recessed ceiling and cove fixtures.
When determining what lighting is right for your space, we must consider the full range of illumination needed in a contemporary kitchen. This includes both architectural lighting, which is as beautiful as it is practical, and the less obvious but equally important task lighting.
Suspended fixtures are the most popular choice of architectural lighting, especially for rooms with high ceilings. Like illuminated sculptures, these fixtures add visual interest and greatly impact interior ambiance. They also help define unique spaces within spacious, open floor plans. For example, a chandelier can transform a simple kitchen table into an informal gathering place, bringing family members together like moths to a flame. A series of pendant lights over a kitchen island can have a similar effect, while offering a subtle visual separation between cooking and dining areas. Additionally, accent lighting around the perimeter of the kitchen – in the form of wall-mounted, cove or over cabinet lights – is a great way to give your space a warm glow, bathing walls and ceilings in indirect light without producing glare.
Diagram of the different light sources needed in a kitchen. General lighting (blue) provides overall illumination, task lighting (orange) provides focused illumination, and accent lighting (grey) highlights focal points. Image via Hout Bay Electrical.
While many people remember to budget for these fixtures, many more forget to save money for adequate task lighting, causing dream kitchens to become nightmares to cook in. Remember that it is important to supplement architectural lighting with more uniform sources of light, such as recessed ceiling pots. More specific task lighting should also be provided to create well-lit workspaces. This can be accomplished by overhead track lighting or, ideally, by under cabinet lights.
Remember not to place overhead lights too far from the wall and to provide lighting below the kitchen upper cabinets to avoid shadows on countertops.
Lastly, planning out your lighting ahead of time will enable you to integrate all of your fixtures, both architectural and task, into a single smart lighting network. These dynamic new systems let you to control your lights remotely – adjusting their brightness and changing their color – allowing you to customize your space while helping lower your electricity bill.