Designing your kitchen lighting plan

Lighting is one of the hardest- working elements in any interior design scheme. Creating the right environment can be one of the most important elements in any interior design scheme, this can be challenging however the results can transform a space.
Done well, it has the ability to really accentuate your kitchen, providing both practical illumination, to enhance the room’s functionality, and aesthetic benefits. It can be used to create atmosphere, define different activity zones, add a design statement- and even make your kitchen look bigger.
So, what do you need to know before designing your kitchen lighting plan? First, let’s look at the different types of lighting and their uses:

Ambient Lighting (Pendant Lighting/LED Spotlights)

Ambient lighting is used to illuminate a whole room and should aim to provide a comfortable level of brightness without glare. Think of it as the base on which you should layer all other forms of light.

Task Lighting (under Counter Lighting/Plinth Lighting/In Cabinet Lighting)

Ideal for areas where you’ll be doing detailed tasks, such as food preparation, task lighting provides a localised light source, illuminating a targeted area to help you see clearly. This can be achieved through spotlights & LED Flexible strip lighting, all controllable via remote or your mobile phone. Colour changing & temperature options can offer different moods designed to make the area you’re working safer and more practical.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight a specific design or feature, such as a piece of art or a mirror. As a rule, it could be around three times brighter than the general illumination level and rather than being the focal point, it should work without being seen. Decorative Lighting provides a statement design feature, either from the fixing itself or the lighting it emits. Now we’ve examined the different types of lighting, lets take a look at the things you need to think about when planning your lighting scheme.

Natural lighting

Your kitchen is a very diverse environment
One of the first things to consider is how much natural light your kitchen gets. This will help you gauge how much additional lighting you need. The amount of natural light your room receives will depend on several factors, including the size of your windows, the height of your ceiling and the direction your kitchen faces. (For example, north-facing rooms are likely to see less light, while south and west- facing rooms will be brighter much further into the day.)
Don’t forget to take the change of seasons into account-what might seem like a bright and sunny space during summer could take on a different persona in the colder, darker months. The surfaces you plan on installing will also affect your kitchen’s light levels; light coloured or high-gloss finishes will reflect natural light, making the room look brighter.

How you will use the space

Once you’ve assessed your kitchen’s natural light levels, it’s time to think about how you’ll be using the room. To plan your lighting effectively, it’s really important to have a good idea of what’s going to be happening in your kitchen, and where. Is your kitchen going to be multifunctional, used for cooking, eating, homework and more?
Different uses require different lighting levels; areas where intricate cooking tasks will take place- think measuring, chopping etc- will need more powerful, (i.e. task) lighting. Softer, ambient lighting may work better for areas where you plan to sit and eat or socialise but if you or your family also plan to work or study at the kitchen table, you’ll also need the option of something brighter.

Further considerations

Now you have an idea what type of lighting you’ll need and where it should go, let’s look at some further considerations to take into account. Your fitter/designer/electrician will be able to provide further practical advice in these areas, but having as clear a vision as possible at the planning stages will really help the professionals turn it into reality.

How much lighting does your kitchen need?
A good lighting scheme is all about finding the right balance, ensuring you have enough light to meet your needs without the level of illumination being excessive. To a certain extent, how bright to light your room is a matter of personal preference but there are industry guidelines about how many lumens (light’s measurement) a room should have, per unit of space and a professional will able to help here.
A professional will also be able to provide expert guidance on the right number of light sources your kitchen needs in order to fulfil these guidelines, while providing the look and functionality you want to achieve.

What’s the best colour temperature to go for?
Colour temperature (how cool or warm the light is) can have a big impact on a room’s atmosphere. In general, cooler colour temperatures work well for task lighting, while warmer light is better for areas where you intend to relax. Preferences vary of course, so make sure you explain what you’re looking for to your kitchen provider so they can find the best option for you.

What lighting controls should you opt for?
The controls you choose will have a huge impact on how flexible your lighting scheme is. Simple on/off switches will do the job, but if you want the option to brighten and dim your light depending on how you’re using the space, consider getting dimmer switches.
If your kitchen is likely to be used for different purposes in different areas simultaneously, you could consider installing a flexible, intelligent control system. These allow you to create and recall pre-set light patterns at the touch of a button and can even be controlled via a smart phone, tablet or PC.

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