Lighting layout for kitchen?

CamGJuly 29, 2013

Our build was crawling along and suddenly we're ready for electrical work! Any thoughts on the lighting set up for our kitchen? Our electrician will put in can lights for $50/each, so I'm happy to add several of those. I think we would like cans over our island rather than pendants. We have 9' ceilings.

I understand it's generally best to put cans right at the end of counters, but we will have a standard depth fridge, so one at counterdepth above the fridge will be defeated. Does that make sense?

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There are three types of lighting: 1) task lighting; 2) ambient lighting; 3) accent lighting. How one uses the three is a personal preference, but one always wants illumination on work and reading surfaces/areas.

If it was me, I'd add continuous strip lighting on the bottom of all upper cabinets to illuminate counters. If your upper cabinets do not go to the ceiling (or there is no dropped soffit above your uppers), you could also have continuous strip lighting on top of the uppers to reflect from the ceiling for ambient lighting.

I'd also consider at least 4 recessed can fixtures to provide illumination in the aisle spaces. If you want cans over the island rather than 2 pendants, that will work, but the pendants would also act as accent lighting.

I'd also put all the kitchen lighting on rheostat/dimmer controls designed for the types of fixtures used in order to allow adjustment to the illumination intensity.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Thanks for the advice. I'm having trouble placing the canned lights without being annoying asymmetrical or adding a ton. The picture below might work, but would it be unsettling to have the lights not equadistant from the stove? The living and dining room look at that wall, so it's particularly important.

I'm also not sure the budget will allow adding a ton of can lights AND under- and over-cabinet lighting. Could I get by with just the lights shown in the original prints and under- and over- cabinet lighting? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 2:10PM
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I think if you put the can lights like that they will just be illuminating the top of the person standing there.

I would put the lights out in the isles and then use under cabinet lighting to illuminate the counters.

A pendant might be nice over the sink as you can direct the light a little more focused that way.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Here's a possibility for you. Color coded. The yellows are "would be nice if the funding holds out". You definately want to do the under counter LED tape lighting. That puts the light onto your work surface. As do the pendants over the island and the semi flush mounts in the pantry and over the sink. The cans are more for general lighting, just trying to keep from having dark spots. I'd try for the ones in the dining area if you don't already have that on a separate plan. Put them all on dimmers and you can control the lighting and ambiance for different functions. Good lighting is the #2 thing usually skimped on in kitchens (#1 is ventilation) and it's a lot more expensive than $50 to go back and retrofit. It's always easy to turn the dimmer down though!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 4:08PM
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Oh, definitely more lights with dimmer switches! What are you using for the counter top on the it shiny or matte? Will the lighting fixture/shade (or lack of) annoy anyone, while they're sitting at the island or table?

So many people think about lighting, while they're standing and working in the kitchen...but sitting is when you realize that there is one light, shining right in your eyes! Hope that helps :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Good to hear from you! We haven't picked out the top of the island, it will be some kind of laminate, but not sure about matte or gloss. With 9' ceilings, if we do pendants, I don't think they'd annoy anyone?

Live_wire, thanks for the illustration! Maybe I'm confused, but won't recessed lights in the isle cause shadows when people are working? Or will the undercab lights fill that in? How far from the nearest uppers should the recessed lights go?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 9:30PM
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