Let There Be Light

The right lighting can make your kitchen more functional -- and more enjoyable! Here's how to brighten your kitchen's future.
Assess Your Space
In this kitchen, pendant lighting
illuminates an island that serves
as a primary workstation.

The first step to proper lighting is determining which kind will work best for your floor plan and workstations.

Before you buy lamps or fixtures, think about how you use the kitchen -- for cooking, naturally, but also for eating or for handling household tasks, such as paying bills. Such varied uses mean the room's lighting must be flexible enough to let you read fine print, but be toned down for cozy dinners.

Next, assess how much light the surfaces in the room reflect. Light colors and shiny surfaces reflect ambient light; dark colors and matte surfaces absorb it. White, for example, reflects 80 percent of the light in a room, while black only reflects 4 percent. So a kitchen with lighter colors will require less light than one with dark or matte-finish surfaces.

Evaluate your ceiling height. Taller rooms require brighter lights to fill the extra area and to cut down on shadows. Low-ceiling spaces often need softer light to keep reflections from bouncing off the walls.

Take windows into account. If they're facing south, odds are you'll get plenty of light during the day, but allow enough fixtures to do the job after the sun goes down.

Continued on page 2:  Choose the Right Lighting