In the late 1970’s my mother, a Cordon Bleu trained cook, said goodbye to the dreary kitchen that had come with our sixties-built house and had the kitchen of her dreams installed. With heaps of storage for her culinary gadgets, a glass fronted cabinet to house her treasured cookery books and plenty of worktop space, it was perfect for her. However, as this was the 1970s, not much thought was given to the lighting and so her dream kitchen had a few little lights under the wall cabinets and a solitary fluorescent strip on the ceiling!
Fast forward to today and the 1970s kitchen is still going strong but its days are numbered! Over the next few months it will be removed and the room completely remodelled by Haydown into a beautiful open-plan Nolte German kitchen, complete with a well-planned lighting system.
Whenever we design a kitchen we give plenty of thought to the lighting. We look at things like how the room is going to be used by our client, what natural light there is, the type and number of lights needed and where to position them. As well as illuminating the working areas and providing the room with ambiance, a well thought out lighting system can make a small kitchen feel larger, a large kitchen feel cosy, highlight interesting features such as a collection of glassware and compensate for a lack of good natural light.
Good kitchen lighting consists of a number of elements. The main ones are task lights, ambiance/mood lights and feature lights.
These are the brightest lights and provide strong, focussed, shadow free illumination to the main working areas of the kitchen. Think of spot lights hidden under the wall cabinets to highlight the work surface, or bright ceiling lights positioned directly above the hob.
Ambiance /Mood Lights
With kitchens increasingly becoming the hub of the home and used for more than just food preparation and cooking, setting the right ambiance throughout the room is important. For example, if people are going to be chatting to you over a glass of wine whilst you are cooking, you probably will want them to sit in a softer light than you so they can relax. Having ceiling lights with dimmer switches are great – allowing you to quickly change the level of brightness. Over the last few years we have seen an increase in the use of mood lighting in the kitchen furniture such as LED lights built into the handle trims and along the plinths. These lights often come with handheld controls, making it easy to change the mood of the room through altering the brightness from low to high and the colour of the LED light from cool to warm.
This type of lighting adds visual interest to a room. For example, beautiful pendant lights above an island unit, a statement light fitting over the dining table, lights inside a glass cabinet, or under a shelf to highlight the contents.
Finally, with technology playing a bigger and bigger part in our daily lives, we are now seeing some lighting systems that can be controlled from a smartphone.
Kitchen lighting has certainly come a long way since the days of my mum’s dream kitchen!