Lighten Up

They call it Daylight Savings Time but for most of us turning back the clocks this time of year just signals a decent into darkness. But just because the sun is setting earlier outside doesn’t mean you can’t turn up the wattage inside. And if there’s one place that lighting is a critical variable, it’s in the kitchen. No longer a place where we just prepare meals, most kitchens multitask as entertainment centers and homework central and no one kind of lighting can handle all these functions.

That said, the number of fixtures your space needs will depend on the size, layout and look of your kitchen—for example taller ceilings and darker finishes call for more light. In fact, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, a kitchen with dark surfaces needs about one-third more light than one with lighter surfaces. Keeping that in mind, here are some basic rules of thumb for lighting:

TASK LIGHTING. Critical for cooking surfaces, at the sink, over the counters, and over any table or work surface, fixtures over these areas should be placed about 30 inches above an island, peninsula or table but might be higher if you are taller or are placing the light over a raised surface.

Sometime all it takes is one fabulous pendant to light your table or island and make a fabulous statement.
Thoughtfully placed task lighting brightens the food prep and cooking area.

RECESSED (CAN) LIGHTS.  These provide ambient lighting, should be 24-42 inches apart, and should work to light the entire room, not just areas without task lights.

Well place recessed lighting combined with natural daylighting brings this kitchen to life.  

LAYERING IS ESSENTIAL. Good lighting design does not rely on just one type of light source.  Mixing ambient, task, decorative, and natural light will guarantee you kitchen has a warm welcoming glow no matter what the season.

Thanks to a combination of pendant lights over the island, recessed cans, and under cabinet task lighting this kitchen shines bright even after the sun has gone down.

Since 2011 the traditional incandescent light bulb is being phased out in favor of more energy efficient brands but understanding what’s watt while making the conversion can be confusing. Here’s a quick reference guide:

100-watt bulbs
To replace your traditional 100-watt incandescent bulb, you have three options for creating a similar amount of light:
  • Halogen: 72 watts, 1490 lumens
  • CFL (Compact Florescent) 26 watts, 1,600 lumens
  • LED:  12 watts, 800 lumens** 

So what's a lumen?  A measure of brightness that indicates the amount of light produced. This is now how we quantify lightbulb output.