Brighten Any Room with the Right Light

One lighting fixture does not fit all. Understand your options when it comes to illuminating rooms.


+ enlarge image Find the right lights for each room.

General lighting is used to cast a comfortable level of brightness throughout the kitchen. It is best achieved with a mix of sources, such as a central ceiling-mounted fixture and recessed spotlights around the perimeter. Dark-color kitchens need more general lighting than bright-color rooms.

To achieve adequate light levels using recessed can lights, allow one for every 20 to 25 square feet.

+ enlarge image Task lighting is essential for most sinks.

Task lighting focuses on a specific spot, such as the baking center, and makes working much more comfortable.

This type of lighting is best achieved with a mix of sources, such as ceiling- or wall-mounted fixtures augmented with under-cabinet lighting. Position light sources so the worker's shadow isn't cast on the work surface.

Because of their high light output and small size, compact fluorescent bulbs and halogen track lights work well for task lighting.

+ enlarge image Use accent lighting on special features.

Accent lighting is designed to spotlight a kitchen's best features. It can be used to highlight a painting or to bring out the texture of a wall.

Effects are best achieved with track lights, recessed lights, and wall-mounted fixtures -- any beam that's stronger than the general lighting. Incorporate a dimmer to create a multitude of moods.

+ enlarge image You'll find a myriad of options in bulbs.

Many sizes and styles of bulbs can be found at a good electrical supply house, but most fall into one of three categories:

Incandescent. Casts a warm, pleasant light and shows fabrics and paints in their true colors but can make the room uncomfortably warm if too many are used.

Fluorescent. Compact versions that fit standard fixtures cost more than incandescents to buy but use only one-third the electricity. For kitchens, specify warm white (not cool white) tubes for best color rendition.

Tungsten-halogen. This low-voltage incandescent bulb provides an intense beam that's ideal for spotlighting objects. They last longer and use less electricity than standard incandescents but cost more up front and produce lots of heat.

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