How to choose lighting for your Kitchen
Kitchen lighting is easy... if we are talking about a commercial kitchen in a restaurant in NYC; Bright as possible. Function over Form. Realistically in your kitchen and mine, we want "good lighting", and it needs to look good. What I mean by "Good Lighting" is enough lighting. In the winter months and shorter days, when it is pitch black out during dinner time, we need lighting that we can prepare our lavish meals confidently. Using a sharp knife should not require us to squint. Even if "lavish" is left overs or take out, we want ample illumination. How?
The next meal you prepare, take note where you move and where you linger. Do you hover over an island chopping veggies? Do you stir endlessly at the stove while sipping wine? Do you enjoy sitting at the table to read? Chances are, you may do all three at one point or another. Many areas need to be correctly laid out and lit. Our four main lighting points are: Stove, Prep Area, Sink, and Table. This can get confusing. I get it. What if you have recessed lighting? That seems good enough, right? Well, maybe. If the light is from behind, then when prepping you are working in a shadow. Ideally, you want light from overhead.
Have you ever scrubbed a pot or pan, put it away, then next time you used it, it did not look so clean? I have. Or better yet, my wife has.. In our old place, I cleaned up after dinner. At night. In bad lighting. And the pots and pans showed it. Adequate lighting at the kitchen sink could have saved me from my dish failures. I no longer have this issue because the new place has awesome lighting.
What about the kitchen table? Well, it depends on how large the table is. (Same for dining room table) Light should be evenly distributed on all sections of the table. If you have guests or a large family and fill that table up, you don't want someone in a shadow. (Like the Lion King's "Shadowy Place").
Pro Tip: If you are going to use a dimmer, have it on the kitchen table circuit. A romantically dim kitchen table with the right person can make dinner leftovers romantic.
Personally, When cooking at the stove I often cook on coloration. When a batch of sauce is being made, my onion and garlic need to look right before I build on it. I don't taste them. I just look. I need good lighting to be that lazy.
What about the aesthetic of the fixtures? Well, that's personal taste and kinda like math.. Hear me out.. If you have an ornate style, where your cabinets are very detailed, your counter top has a lot of pattern or you have an elaborate floor tile, you may want a cleaner, simpler light fixture. Here is the math part.. Busy Cabinets + Busy Floor Tile = Not so busy fixture.
Conversely. Simple tile + Simple counter top = More textured or complex lighting design.
We can complicate things more though...
See this picture?
It has mixed cabinet colors. Mixed wall texture. Mixed metals.
Although most people would not think to put all of this in one room, whoever designed this kitchen and designed it, knew they wanted something eclectic. Somehow it all works together. I might have an explanation:
1. Nothing feels crowded. I estimate the ceilings to be 12-14 feet tall.
2. The kitchen has a lot of rectangles and squares. The accents have curves.
- Cabinets are a shaker style; Clean, non-polarizing design. It can be modern or traditional depending on how the rest of the kitchen is done.
- The windows are black - Grills, casing, and frames. This matches the black lights above. The wall for the windows is also unique. It looks like it is vertical nickel board. Essentially this wall, lights and window operate with their own style. The style of that entire side then ties into the rest of the kitchen because of the cabinet color and style.
3. The kitchen island is meant to be somewhat unique. Sometimes kitchen design will have an island be an entirely different color - Cabinets and or top.
- Considering the island is a "stand alone" focal point. It's lighting can also be as stand alone.
- The unique island also is tied back into the rest of the kitchen because of the color and cabinet style.
The entire mix of texture and color is brave, but whoever designed it knew what they were doing.