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Lighting in a Kitchen

December 15, 2021

Remona Divekar

Lighting, if applied correctly, does not only allow the kitchen to easily adapt to suit the different needs, requirements, and moods of the person using it, but it can also enhance the overall appearance of the kitchen design, writes Remona Divekar.

The kitchen is often referred to as the ‘heart of the home’ and acts as a multifunctional space for many households. As the famous architect, Le Corbusier aptly said, “Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” Deciding whether the area requires cool or warm lighting is important as the colour tone can completely transform the room. Strategically placed lighting gives the kitchen what it needs the most, for the wide range of functions that kitchens perform that sets the standard for the rest of the home. For example, bright and shadow-free task lighting for safe cooking and preparation, atmospheric illumination to create a mood to make the room feel more inviting. If applied correctly, it not only allows the kitchen to easily adapt to suit the different needs, requirements, and moods of the person using it but it also enhances the overall appearance of the kitchen design.

Defining a role in the kitchens

Despite the fact that lighting is often left as an afterthought, it is an integral part of any kitchen design, most critical in the initial planning stages of any project as a way to make kitchens look more functional and enjoyable space. Interior designer Anish Motwani of Anish Motwani and Associates opines, “Some universal tips to keep in mind when lighting a kitchen, more specifically an Indian kitchen, is one should avoid indirect lights in the ceiling because in Indian kitchen there is a lot of smoke due to Indian spices. The plain ceiling look with a few Led light fixtures is best for the kitchen. Also, avoid overboard lighting. Having too many lights which is difficult to maintain later is also not a good idea. Define your areas of requirement and choose direct lights accordingly. Avoid colour changing LED strip lights or colour bulbs for kitchens.”

Illustrating other options N Sridhar Rao, authorised India Sales Partner for KICHLER, USA suggests to “Plan for lighting layers or multiple sources of light like ambient or general illumination, accent or decorative lighting and task lighting. Dimmers lighting provide options for illumination levels.” He further says that it is important to take the colour of cabinetry, flooring, and walls into consideration as well as the materials. “The darker these items are the more lumens that will be needed to illuminate the space. Also, the reflectiveness of the surface plays a part as well – glossy finishes bounce light around where matte ones don’t reflect light nearly as well.”

“Whether preparing food, cooking, or simply looking for the bread, good lighting in the kitchen highlights key areas and keeps the area at a good level of brightness at all times. The practice of implementing good lighting design is popular and cost-effective,” informs Vaishali Lahoti Shah – Chief Designer- Cuisine Regale Lighting, A Godrej Venture. “It should be directed onto work surfaces to dispel annoying shadows. Lighting around the base of units provides a feature and gives mood lighting in a functional area. If you have good natural light make the most of this with a glass roof, large opening doors, and light colours as nothing beats natural light. Linear LED lighting built into the furniture is a must, with the actual LED light source hidden from direct view as much as possible,” adds Shah.

Lighting and Zoning

There are several places, many of which some don't ever consider, adding lightings such as the kitchen cabinet lighting or kitchen lighting over the sink. These are just two places where extra lighting goes in order to accent the appliances and other kitchen fixtures. Countertops beneath cabinetry, open spaces above cabinetry, cabinetry with glass fronts, and islands all have unique lighting needs and opportunities. Under-cabinet lighting is a common fixture for task lighting on countertops. Toe kick, coved ceilings, open shelving, or lighting in open soffits adds ambiance while recessed or recessed alternative lighting adds general illumination. Decorative lighting is frequently used above sinks and islands.

Shah says, "For open-plan multi-application spaces, it’s vital to create adequate numbers of zones of light to provide flexibility to suit the applications and time of day or night. Forget grids of downlights; use light only where it is required. Work surfaces need good task lighting, whether it is from downlights or pendants. For the kitchen itself, task lighting requires to be available at suitable light levels on separate zones, with further zones of light to enhance the furniture, space and create a feature to provide an ambient light level. The dining and living areas may require to respond to the space work as one, or individually. A good simple lighting scene system can offer the user control to make the space work coherently. It is a project that many homeowners choose to undertake in order to give their kitchens an extra personal touch and have it stand out from others.”

Lights over a kitchen counter often work best placed above the edges of the counter but angled across it to create glare-free lighting. In the kitchen area using directional spotlights angled towards the cupboards and walls can increase the sense of space. The light is reflected back into the room and is much more effective than shining the light straight down at the floor. Lights fitted near hobs fit flush to the wall or ceiling – make them easy to wipe clean. Using fittings with a covered glass is ideal. In kitchens with high ceilings, adding up lights to the tops of cabinets adds general light to the space so will need fewer downlights.

Kitchen lighting for subtle colours