A Kitchen is one of the more complicated rooms to develop a lighting plan for. One reason is it requires all three types of light, general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. There is also the overall dcor and style to consider in the lighting scheme. The first place to concentrate on when designing a lighting plan for a kitchen is general lighting. You want to have enough light to safely navigate the room and perform your daily functions.
In most instances today recessed lighting is used to achieve this. There are however, many choices when it comes to recessed lighting. One choice is the size of the cans. The three basic choices are 4", 5" or 6". The difference in these is mostly aesthetics and room size. At the same time, it also means a difference in how many lights are in the room. Using 4" cans will require more fixtures than using 6" cans. Another choice with the recessed lighting is line voltage or low voltage. The advantage of low voltage is smaller fixtures and energy savings. The lighting is a more intense and white light as well for the most part.
Once you have made your choice as to the type of cans the next step is placement. I try to layout kitchen recessed lighting so that the center of the cans are the same distance off the wall as the edge of the counter, which is 24". Because of ceiling joists or other obstructions, this isn't always possible. If I need to move them I usually opt for moving them further out. This general lighting consists of a perimeter of light. If you look on my website I have some drawings and photos to help visualize it better.
One other type of lighting that can fall into the general lighting plan is pendant lights. These also come in both line voltage and low voltage. A very popular place for these is over an island or peninsula. As well as providing light, they help define the space in that area.
Choosing the lights you will use, the type and the placement is your first task. The next very important step is the switching to control these lights. Unless the kitchen is very small, splitting the lights into sections on separate switches adds flexibility to your lighting scheme. Keeping the pendants separate and perhaps the recessed lights separated by one side of the kitchen and the other is an example.
The next step will be task lighting. I'll cover that in the next article.
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