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Planning a kitchen lighting scheme – points to consider


Rebecca Silburn | 16 May 2016

Lighting in the kitchen is crucial; not only does it make the space usable, it can also add pleasing aesthetics. Therefore it’s important that you consider lighting early on in your kitchen planning; leave it too late and you could find that you encounter problems trying to retrofit lighting, particularly in awkward or hard to reach places. We would therefore always advise discussing your lighting scheme with your kitchen designer from the start of the design process, but here are a few things to consider when planning your kitchen lighting layout.

Choosing the right colour temperature for your room

White lights can actually be split into two ‘temperatures’ – warm white and cool white. The warm white has a golden hue and forms a softer light with yellow undertones whereas the cool white produces an almost blue, bright white light. It’s important to consider whether your kitchen furniture is best suited to warmer or cooler tones, for example a country kitchen will likely look best with warm lighting as opposed to cool white, as it will complement the tones of the wood and decor typical to this style. Our Belgravia kitchen below illustrates the difference between warm and cool white. Warm white lights are used in the ceiling spotlights and pendant lights above the table whereas cool white lighting is used along the plinth on the island.

Think about the practicalities – bulb and switch positioning

In order for lighting to properly match the functionality of your kitchen plan it early so that your kitchen designer can integrate the lighting within the wider design. If you are planning a kitchen extension then your lighting plans need to be considered even earlier so that electrics can be designed to reach the appropriate areas. Proper placement of task lighting is an absolute necessity; without adequate lighting in your working areas it will compromise the practicality of the room. Task lighting typically includes spotlights or strip lighting on the underneath of wall units – illuminating the worktop below.

As well as the positioning of the bulbs it’s also important to think about where the light switches will be placed and ensure that this is implemented within building plans. Make sure light switches are easily accessible upon entry to the room as well as easy to reach without interrupting the working area of the kitchen. These design considerations may be small but if planned early they can dramatically improve the appearance and function of your room.

Decorative layers of light

Lighting is frequently referred to as having three layers; ambient, accent and task and it’s important to achieve a combination of all three. When it comes to kitchen lighting, the task lighting, as discussed above, refers to lighting that has a specific function, for example illuminating a food prep area or internals of a pantry. Ambient lighting refers to the general lights in the room such as ceiling spotlights and is used to illuminate the whole space. Accent lights however are decorative and are used to add aesthetic interest to a space. It’s worth investing in accent lighting because it can really lift the design of your room. Accent lighting includes pendant lights positioned over an island or plinth lighting to illuminate a run of cabinetry.

Layers of light illustrated

Our Linear kitchen below illustrates the impact that well thought out lighting can have on a room. The spotlights in the ceiling create plenty of general light; providing the ambient layer. There is ample accent lighting too which includes the LED strip lights along the island plinth as well as above the cabinetry and ceiling box. The addition of spotlights which reflect off the stainless steel central column complete the decorative lighting in the room. The task lighting can be seen in the form of spotlights below the wall units along the sink run. The combination of these different layers and textures of light creates an overall aesthetic that really enhances the kitchen furniture and design.

Smart lighting

Advancements in technology have led to smart lighting – increased control of lighting, adjustment according to mood and connecting your lights to other technologies in the room. Stream Audio recently installed smart lighting within our Colchester showroom and we’re seeing it grow in popularity.

"Smart lighting adds elegance, ambiance, convenience and energy efficiency to your home. Lighting control is creatively designed and programmed so that at the touch of a button you can personalise your kitchen, setting scenes for cooking, entertaining, working or relaxing, enhancing the appearance and use of your home whilst meeting its functional needs" explains Peter Miller from Stream Audio. By combining basic rules of kitchen lighting – the balancing of ambient, accent and task lighting – with technological advancements your kitchen lighting layout will be functional, beautiful and efficient.

If you would like further information on lighting for your kitchen or to discuss your upcoming kitchen project with one of our design team please contact us.

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