Good lighting schemes use the “light layers” idea of general, ambient, and task lighting to create a consistent and productive lighting design. Of these three layers of light, task lighting is the essential light for any work-related activity, from reading and doing homework to cutting vegetables in the kitchen.
The best location for task lighting in any room is between your head and your work surface. Lighting in the center of the ceiling and directly above your head is a bad idea because your head will cast a shadow on your work surface.
Another common problem when considering task lighting is the “veil reflection” problem. This is lighting from above and directly in front of you, causing a glare reflection on your glossy magazine or glossy granite countertop.
The solution here is to place a light source coming from one or both sides of the viewing angle. Light from the sides rather than directly from above directs the glare from the eyes better.
When it comes to task lighting, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. Kitchens aren’t just the gathering place for the modern family; it’s where everything gets done, even the homework mentioned above!
If I were to emphasize two more necessary design elements for lighting in the kitchen, they would be: 1) Under-cabinet lighting (this goes back to the lighting placement between the head and the work surface idea) and 2) Halogen points and pendants.
Under cabinet lighting is an important “layer” in the kitchen lighting scheme. This type of lighting provides an even layer of lighting across the countertop with no shadows or reflections. A common and easy way to provide this type is to use linear light strips mounted to the back of the cabinet underneath.
These fluorescent light sources are a good option; they can be left on all the time, as they have a very long service life, produce almost no heat, are very low cost and are very energy efficient.
The halogen and pendant spotlights mentioned come from my own favorite “design element” as well as a great solution for task lighting – low voltage flex track lighting. This type of contemporary “lighting system” is very low profile, highly efficient and available in almost any color or finish to suit any kitchen design, traditional or modern. They can be ordered in bright colors and finishes, or to match kitchen hardware in chrome, nickel or even more rustic finishes. It is literally ‘flexible’ and can be installed in any geometric or fluid shape.
Simply put, “low voltage” means that the standard electrical voltage of 120 volts is reduced to around 12 volts using a remote “transformer”. This low voltage track primarily uses halogen fixtures that are available in many unique and beautiful shapes, sizes, and materials. Also available are colored glass diffuser bulbs that hold halogen bulbs with a variety of beam spread available.
Pair with pendants that hang decoratively and purposefully over your kitchen island, looking fashionable in hand-blown murano glass in red or blue, for example, while providing a clean halogen light on your stove or prep area. All of these types of fixtures are hung or mounted from a long, continuous “track.” By strategically placing all of these light sources where they are needed most, you will find that they are working hard for you while looking great, as lighting for all tasks should be.