Newbie needs feedback on kitchen lighting scheme PLEASE!

blaster1492March 10, 2014

Hello everyone, I'm a total lighting novice and am about to embark on complete kitchen renovation and I could REALLY use your advice on the lighting (I have also posted this to lighting forum, but I appreciate your advice so much I'm hoping you could help too!). I have attached the layout. GC is suggesting 8 recessed 6'' lights. I am a little concerned we need more - at least 10, and we are especially wanting ample light because we have darker oak floors and are getting dark cherry cabinets (countertop will be a creamy granite). The ceilings are 9 ft tall and cabinets are 42"+a few inches of crown. I am not planning on doing pendant lights over island, just the cans and of course under cabinet lighting.
On the diagram I put lights in where they make sense to me, but again I have no idea what I'm doing. I would really appreciate some feedback. I also have a few specific questions:

1. Should I still do an over-sink light since there is a normal can pretty close?

2. The can in the middle row all the way to the right is basically right by a tall pantry. I feel like there should be a light around there but not sure how functional it will be with tall pantry right there. Any thoughts?

3. Should there be some more lighting between the first and second rows? (basically the inside of the kitchen triangle) Any solutions to space lights more effectively rather than add more lights?

THANK YOU so much for your advice. I can't tell you how appreciate I am for your thoughts and expertise!


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I would still do a light over the sink. My DH added one to our plan and I'm so glad he did. I would also have a central light in the middle of the room.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:07AM
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Based on lighting guidelines, you need about 35 lumens/sq ft. So you should figure out how many lumens the recessed bulbs you will be using have and do the math based on the dimensions of your room. Then you can figure out placement.

Also, I would definitely include a light over my sink! Because of that in my own kitchen, I had to rework the other light placement so that another light wasn't too close to it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:04PM
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Definitely do a light over the sink. Where your recessed can is located right now, you will throw a shadow over the sink when you stand there. You'll be happy to have the sink light.

We have a can light in front of our tall pantry and it's been just fine. No worries there.

One area that has been "dark-ish" to me with our unfinished kitchen is in front of the cooktop. It should be fine once we have our hood in as it is glass so light will still come down through that and it has lights that can be turned on while cooking. But if I didn't have a hood going in that had lights, that area would be a concern to me for our lighting plan.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:49PM
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I would suggest some kind of flushmount, chandelier, or pendant that will cast light all the way around. The can lights only shine down, and it can create some glare and sort of a spotlight feeling. It's nice to have a fixture that will cast light 360 degrees (especially on the ceiling). Dark ceilings will make the room seem dark and closed in.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:17PM
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You could do above cabinet lighting if you don't want any pendants or ceiling mount lights. I did that in mine and am surprised at the amount of light it casts throughout the kitchen (although I do have pendants, recessed, and ucl also, but use different lighting combinations for different purposes).

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:31PM
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IMO, the light in front of your pantry needs to be moved out somewhat so that it can actually cast light on what is inside when the pantry is open. Mine is about 12 to 15 inches from the edge of the cabinet.

I agree with the others concerning a light above the sink. I actually have two smaller can lights above my sink. I sometimes wish I'd put pendants there instead.

I would also definitely add some additional lighting to the center of the room.

I remember reading that it is generally a mistake to set up your can lights in an even grid pattern, as that does not take into account where light is actually needed. For instance, using the grid pattern that you have, the light in front of the pantry is actually too close to the pantry to be effective.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Thanks for the terrific suggestions so far. What do you think about these edits I made to the diagram? Basically, moved the second row of recessed lights further "up" into the kitchen triangle, and then added two pendant lights over the peninsula. She doesn't love pendant lights but from what people have been telling me it might offer a different "type" of light - more of a spreading light that will fill the room vs. the downward light of a can. Is that right? Otherwise we would probably just add a another row of cans right there. And the last change I made was to back the right column of cans further back so that it still provides useful light over the fridge/pantry.

I really value your feedback and you've been so helpful thus far, please let me know if you think this solves my problems. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Building on what jelly toast said, you also have to be aware of where the can will be in relation to the open cupboard doors. You don't want the doors to be blocking the light that you need to see into the cabinets (or refrigerator/freezer) -- another point for setting them a bit farther away from the cabinet.

Mine are a few inches (about 4) away from the edges of the counters instead of right over them and that is working well for me. No glare off the counter, illuminates the upper interiors and no blocking shadows.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:50PM
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It wouldn't hurt to add another can to the right of the blue (pendants ?) circles that you have over the peninsula. You have a rather large area there without lighting.

The way you have your can lights lined up with the edge of the base cabinets ... make sure you check those after your electrician installs. I assumed mine were correct, but realized after the drywall went up that one of them was off. Too late!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:50PM
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Those are great suggestions. I will keep working on it and talk with my contractor to see what he says. So in general, can I get away with 4 foot spacing between 6'' cans, or do I need to be more like 3 feet?


This post was edited by blaster1492 on Mon, Mar 10, 14 at 18:48

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:44PM
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Mine are 4' which are fine, but my ceiling aren't quite 8 feet high and I don't know if that makes any difference.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:00PM
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Keep in mind that your undercabinet lights will light the countertop well, so it's ok to move the cans back a bit from the edge of the counters for the reasons mentioned above.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:10PM
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Interesting, I had read that you should put them at the level of the countertops so that it doesn't cast a shadow on the counters when you're standing there. Then again, it makes perfect sense that the undercabinet lighting would help that issue.

Anyone else have any opinions on that? I thought that was the ONLY thing I knew was true about lighting when I posted my original drawing!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:25PM
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That is correct, blaster ... that's the way to do it. I rarely even use my undercabinet lighting as I don't really need it. It's nice to have it, but it's also nice not to have to turn on every light in my kitchen if I don't want to.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:48PM
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Mine are back further than counter length.We do not yet have our UC lighting in. So far, working at the counter, I haven't found any issues with the placement of the lights except for at the cooktop because I don't have the hood and light with that yet. We also have 14" deep uppers. The only counter area that I found especially dark right now without the UC lighting is the corner.

I plan on our UC lighting being both task lighting and ambient lighting, so I plan on having those on almost all the time. We have our switches so that we can turn on various lights as needed - you may want to consider that as well:
1.) Cans
2.) Pendants over island
3.) UC
4.) Sink
5.) Over table

With as many cans as you are planning on putting in, do you want all of them on at once or not. Also, I would definitely consider putting them on a dimmer so that if they are too bright, you can turn them down easily. We have used our dimmer for our can lights a lot so far.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 8:48PM
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Ok, my wife nixed the pendant light idea. So I just added another row of recessed lights. I also put in the rough spacing between lights (pretty amazing, just by the way the room is shaped I was able to get very consistent, geometrical spacing!). Am I crazy for wanting this many lights in the room? Remember, dark cherry cabinets and medium-dark brown oak floors (with light countertops) in a room that has a window but is pretty closed off from light from the rest of the house.

This makes 14 lights including the over-sink light. Is this too much? The spacing seems to make sense...

Thank you!

PS - I also pulled the right column of lights off the tall cabinets a bit from your suggestions to make sure light gets into that space!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:13PM
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