Putting The Spotlight On Lighting In The Kitchen, Adding Clarity To Both Beauty And Function

Posted on | October 14, 2014 | No Comments

Over the years, kitchen lighting has changed from something purely utilitarian to an essential aspect of home design, adding both function and beauty to a space. As a Charlotte area designer specializing in the design of kitchens, Penny Porter of Visual Concepts Interior Design knows her way around renovations and new home project sites, and she has certainly done her share of lighting plans for homes. Penny clued North Carolina Design in on what’s new in lighting, and shared some tips with us  on developing an ideal lighting design for today’s kitchen.

Visual Concepts Interior Design©

Visual Concepts Interior Design©

“It used to be that a big fluorescent fixture in the center of the kitchen was all you had,” Penny reflects. “There was a lot of glare, and there was no lighting for specific functions, which made it more difficult than people realized to work in the kitchen. Today’s kitchens have layered lighting, which maximizes form and function. There are a wealth of options to choose from — you can use recessed cans, chandeliers, or pendant lights.”

Cabinet Studio©

Bistany Design©

According to Penny, today’s kitchens feature three different types of lighting. “You have ambient lighting, which is your overall, general kitchen lighting,” she explains. “Then you have accent lighting, which serves to highlight artwork, architectural features and other points of interest, and task lighting, which provides extra illumination for areas where specific tasks are done. It’s important for homeowners to provide all of these layers in their lighting design, but I would say that ambient and task lighting are the two most important types.”

TEAL Interior Design©

New Old Luxury Custom Home Builder©

Different types of lighting can serve multiple purposes. “Under-cabinet lights can be used as accent lighting, but they also serve as a nightlight – if an overnight guest gets up for a drink of water, they can see what they’re doing,” offers Penny. She also suggests adding dimmers to kitchen lights to easily transition task lighting to ambient lighting, and vice versa. “Let’s say you’re done with dinner, but you don’t want to just turn off the kitchen lights. You can use dimmers to lower the lighting and create an atmosphere.”

Advanced Renovations, Inc.©

The Kitchen-Specialist©

The use of LED lighting in kitchens has grown in popularity, and for good reason. “LED strips add a really nice layer into a lighting design,” Penny affirms. “They can be used as accent lighting and task lighting. I especially like placing them along the toe-kicks of cabinets. LED is a better choice than halogen lighting — it burns cooler, it’s more energy efficient, and it offers a brighter, cleaner light.”

Cederberg Kitchens & Additions©

ID.ology Interior Design©

Lighting fixtures themselves can add to the overall décor of a space and, as Penny notes, homeowners have more options now than ever — especially when it comes to contemporary and transitional styles. “It used to be that you didn’t see a lot of contemporary options for residential lighting,” she reflects. “Now we’re seeing residential fixtures with clean, simple lines and truer finishes. Honestly, whether your style is contemporary, transitional, or traditional, there are so many choice nowadays, and the possibilities really are endless. It all depends on your vision.”

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