Kitchen Lighting Layout

Use these tips to help you integrate a beautiful and practical lighting layout into your kitchen.

Too often, kitchens are equipped with only a single light fixture, and even in small kitchens, one fixture is rarely enough to supply adequate light. However, before picking out pretty pendants or a cool chandelier, take time to create a plan that ensures all areas of your kitchen are well lighted. A professional lighting expert can do this step for you -- or save money by creating one on your own.

Whether you are starting the space from scratch or adding new fixtures to an existing kitchen, draw a layout of the floor plan, complete with cabinets and appliances, and map out the placement of four layers of light.

1. Ambient lighting casts a soft glow that bounces off the ceiling and walls to create overall light that makes the kitchen feel inviting. Choose ceiling fixtures and bulbs that provide diffused light rather than pointed light. Recessed lights are most commonly used for this purpose; in general, you can plan for one recessed can every 4-6 square feet.

2. Task lighting provides bright, focused lighting for preparing meals, washing dishes, and other kitchen chores. Plan to have one of these lights cast between head height and the sink, island, desk, and other work surfaces. Recessed spotlights and floodlights are perfect for task lighting.

3. Accent lighting is designed to highlight specific features, such as artwork or architectural details. Track lighting with directional spotlights makes it easy to shine light exactly where you want it.

4. Decorative lighting, such as chandeliers and wall sconces, are beautiful fixtures that cast light but have the primary purpose of adding decorative detail to the room.

Save on energy costs by investing in dimmer switches for your new lights. Using separate switches for each light layer creates maximum flexibility and newer switches include timers and electronic sensors for automatic control. Be sure to plan for light switches at each entry point to the kitchen, which will affect cabinet and appliance placement.

If you can't afford all of lighting in your plan at the time of construction, consider installing the junction boxes anyway so you can add fixtures as budget allows.

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