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Kitchen Lighting Guide

Author: Tina Pancholi
Published: July 6, 2012

As any good estate agent would tell you, lighting is extremely important in any room, capable of turning “dull” into “dazzling”. The kitchen offers more scope than most rooms for creative use of lighting too. Glass-fronted cabinets, the underside of worktops and other room furniture can all be treated to a little extra illumination. But to make it happen, there’s a whole host of Kitchen lighting to consider. To avoid any confusion, here’s a guide to what’s out there.

Pendant lights

Unless you’re planning a very odd lighting arrangement indeed, your main light sources in the kitchen will hang from the ceiling. Depending on the look you’re after – and to an extent the dimensions of your kitchen – there are several main types to consider.

The most basic of the bunch are pendant lights, where a lamp and shade hang from a fixture in the ceiling. These aren’t the best choice if you have a kitchen with a very low ceiling, but choose the right shade and they can become a focal point of the room. Quite how these fittings will disperse light also depends on the shade, but they will tend to be more efficient than full frosted glass fittings.

When it comes to pendants, you’re not limited to a single light, either. If you need to light a large area with few fittings, a bar pendant uses a stiff rod or bar to arrange several bulbs powered through a single hole up top. The multi pendant style is similar, but generally with a less rigid array. The multi pendant type offers some particularly striking designs.

Rise and Fall lights

As an alternative to a simple pendant, one of the most ‘on trend’ lights at the moment is a Rise & Fall Pendant Light. These stylish and useful light fittings can be raised up out of the way when not needed and lowered for dining. This ability also helps change the ambience of the room as desired.

Flush ceiling lighting

If you don’t have the ceiling height to let a power cord dangle down, there are a number of other options. Flush lights only extrude a short way from the ceiling. Naturally, this means they also take up more of the ceiling area than most pendants too. Often made of frosted glass, flush lights produce soft, diffuse lighting.

However, for the most contemporary look, recessed spotlights or downlights are certainly also worth considering. These only inhabit small, stylish-looking fixtures, but as they’re designed for bulbs that produce a fairly narrow throw, more are needed to light a large kitchen. Simultaneously striking and subtle, recessed spotlights will match a modern design kitchen down to the ground.

When looking to install lights in a kitchen you should always take care to ensure that the light fitting has a suitable IP Rating. Rising moisture in kitchens from the likes of kettles and cookers can be a factor that people sometimes forget.

Spot lighting

When it comes to focusing on particular objects in the kitchen such as a shopping list whiteboard, calendar or picture, single spotlights (recessed, wall or ceiling mounted) can be used to add that decorative touch. Single spots are so small, light and versatile these days that they are able to fit in most places. With a little planning a single light can have an enormous effect on the illumination of your kitchen.

If on the other hand you like the idea of neat spotlights but need greater illumination, a plate and bar spotlight array is just the ticket. These encompass several spotlights – or downlights – on a plate, or along a bar. Just like a multi pendant, this gives you greater power per ceiling or wall fixture.

Strip lights

If a spotlight’s throw isn’t suitable, or if the area you’re looking to light is just too awkward for that fixture, you need either LED or fluorescent strip lighting. Thin, light and able to fit into corners - with self-adhesive models readily available - these are the only picks for brightening up the undersides of cupboards or work surfaces.

Both fluorescent and LED lighting strips offer very long life, but LEDs in particular offer stupendous longevity - they last for tens of thousands of hours (plus they also come in a choice of covers)! The quality of light the two types emanate is also a little different. Using frosted shades, fluorescent tubes provide a soft, diffuse effect while LEDs are crisp. Forget your experiences of the harsh, unforgiving strip lighting of the office – these are perfect for some kitchen applications.

Looking for more advice and inspiration? Take a look in our Lighting Ideas section.