Don’t skimp on kitchen lighting

<p>As we discussed last week, the right lighting is absolutely essential to creating an effective and stylish way to light up your home.</p>




torstar file photo


In this file photo, both pendant and pot lights create ambient illumination, while task lighting highlights work surfaces.

As we discussed last week, the right lighting is absolutely essential to creating an effective and stylish way to light up your home.

The design team knows this is true everywhere in a home, but we agree that it is especially crucial in the kitchen, the workhorse of any house.

You need two kinds of lighting. Task lighting will light up your work surfaces — the places where you chop up vegetables, measure and combine ingredients, mix, whip, beat, knead, you name it.

People sometimes underestimate the practical importance of providing this kind of lighting. Along with the lovely glowing effect produced by spot or task lighting, you do need it in a kitchen to avoid accidents. No question about it.

You do this with lighting that aims light into specific areas. For example, we love a line of coloured glass pendants above a kitchen island, particularly above a counter bar or eat-in area. Each light throws a pool of light directly below it. If glass isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other attractive options in metal and other materials.

Other options to create task lighting are under-cabinet lighting that throws light onto the counters.

These come in energy-efficient strip fluorescents, which also have the advantage of producing virtually no heat. Just make sure you get the warm fluorescents, not the cool ones.

Cool fluorescents cast a bluish light, which is not an appetizing shade for the kitchen, believe us!

Another energy-efficient option is the rope light or fibre optics installed under a kitchen counter. Puck-type lighting installed under the cabinet also cast a warm light under the counter.

Along with the all-important task lighting, you need ambient light to flood light into the room.

Ambient lighting can come in a number of different forms. Track lighting has a slightly industrial look, in which the hardware is visible — which can look great in a contemporary setting, but is perhaps not so great for a traditional setting. One great thing about track lights is that they can be aimed in any area you like.

The other commonly used solution in providing ambient kitchen lighting is the always stylish pot light in its various sizes, some more like “pin” lighting and some more like a traditional potlight.

These are recessed in the ceiling and seem to float effortlessly overhead. Halogen provides a clear, white light that looks great, but this type of light does produce heat. Look into fluorescent options — they don’t generate much heat and they are also one of the most energy efficient types of lighting.

A more conventional puck light sitting flush to the ceiling or a globe or half-globe type of ceiling fixture can also look great. Pucks are great for small rooms or those with low ceilings, and globes are great for larger rooms.

They spread light evenly and don’t have the spotlight effect of a halogen potlight.

Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.