How To Get A Layered Lighting Look In A Kitchen Remodel

Three Layers of Light: Layered Lighting In Kitchen Design

Proper lighting is one of the critical elements of every kitchen design, both functionally and aesthetically. You can create the perfect kitchen design, aesthetically beautiful, comfortable, and functional, but without proper lighting, it's never going to live up to its full potential.

Just like interior designers effectively use layers of color or fabric to create interest and depth in their design, lighting designers use layers of light – ambient, accent, and task lighting, to enhance the kitchen's usability and beauty.

So, what exactly is layered lighting and how can you incorporate it into your kitchen design to create a more dynamic space.

Why Layered Lighting is Important in the Kitchen

Layered lighting gives your space a comfortable ambiance, but it goes beyond simple aesthetics. The kitchen is ultimately a workspace. Safety, when preparing food, doing homework at the kitchen table, conversation, and setting a romantic mood, are all functions that are enhanced by proper lighting.

Getting the lighting right in your kitchen can make a huge difference in making it a comfortable and functional space. There is no single fixture that gives you everything you need to illuminate the kitchen properly. Multiple light sources allow a smooth transition from a bright workspace, to a sophisticated space for entertaining. Working together, ambient, task, and accent lighting helps you to create a visually and functionally balanced room.

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Layered Light: Ambient Lighting

Layered lighting can be multi-purpose.

In this this kitchen, it includes: Recessed can lights for general ambient lighting, under-cabinet task lights for task lighting on the countertops, over-cabinet lights for indirect ambient or decorative lighting, and pendant lights that provide task lighting at the island and ambient lighting throughout the room.

Proper ambient lighting should provide a glare-free, general illumination in the kitchen. There are several types of lighting fixtures to consider when designing your ambient light layer; they include:

• Daylight

Natural lighting from windows, skylights, or lighting tubes provides effective illumination during the day.

• Flush Mount Fixtures

Designed to hug the ceiling, flush mount, or semi-flush mount ceiling lights are an excellent choice for illuminating spaces with low ceilings.

• Chandeliers

Chandeliers have a branched frame and multiple lamps to light the surrounding area. Chandeliers are an excellent choice if you have a high ceiling, or over an eat-in kitchen table. A chandelier can also add a stunning visual focal point in your kitchen design.

• Pendant Lighting

Pendants are a single shade fixture that hangs from the ceiling and contains a single bulb. Pendant lights are used in multiples when additional lighting is needed. You'll typically see them over kitchen islands or dining tables. Pendant lights on a dimmer can function as both ambient and task lighting.

• Sconces or Cove Lighting

Affixed to a wall, and upward facing sconce can provide a subtle ambient light. Cove lighting is found in recesses, ceiling valances, or high on the wall. Cove lighting is typically a slim or architectural fixture that is not readily visible, but directly lighting toward the ceiling, or to focus attention on an interesting structural element. This approach can apply to under cabinet lighting.

Once you've established your ambient lighting, you can use other types of light to get rid of shadows and provide work area lighting.

Task Lighting in Small Kitchens

In a smaller kitchen space, task lighting plays a prominent role. With only the island fixture for ambient light, the recessed cans over the sink and undercabinet lights provide the rest of the lighting needed for this kitchen.

Layered Lighting: Task Lighting

Task lighting pretty much does what its name implies. Task lights provide the proper level of focused light needed to perform a task safely and without strain. In the kitchen task lighting is typically supplied by downward facing pendant lighting, or under cabinet lighting.

In the kitchen, under cabinet lighting can function as both ambient and task lighting depending on the type of bulb, light output, or dimmer system you have installed.

Task lighting, along with ambient lighting, creates a well lit, safe, layered lighting approach to kitchen lighting design. The space is covered by general and functional lighting elements that perform specific functions. However, general and functional lighting can be a bit limited. So now it's time to add some wow factor!

Layered Lighting: Accent Lighting

Layered Lighting as Decoration

This kitchen and dining area features pendant lights that provide decorative shadow patterns on the ceiling. Note the pattern above the dining table pendant set, as well as the island pendants. Thanks to dimmable lamps, these fixtures serve multiple purposes as ambient, task and decorative lights. The under-cabinet lights are for task lighting, and the recessed cans provide ambient light throughout the main level of the home.

The final layer of light is accent lighting. Accent lighting can bring out the details of your kitchen. If you have interesting architectural details, design elements, or art, you can create a focal point using accent lighting.

As a general rule, you want your accent lighting to be three times brighter than any other surrounding ambient lighting to create maximum impact. Think of accent lighting as adding character to your design. Common accent lighting includes:

• Wall Sconces – Wall sconces come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles and is a great way to create a focal point. When placed on opposite sides of an object, sconces draw the eye to the feature.

• Picture Lights – Bring out the details in fine art. It's easy to install and can enhance the viewing experience.

• Recessed Lighting – Recessed lighting can also function as ambient lighting when wired to a dimmer switch. It can also be adjusted to focus on an object, or wash attractively down a wall.

Layered Lighting Works Together

While these are just the basics of layered lighting, there are two more considerations – choosing the proper light bulbs and lighting controls. The lightbulbs you choose can affect the outcome of your layering dramatically. Start by selecting either cool (4000K or higher) or warm (2700 – 3000K) color temperatures. If you're not sure where to begin, speak with your designer. They can help you to choose the correct bulb to achieve the look you're going for.

Your designer will have created a layered lighting plan to meet your functional and aesthetic needs. The next step is to have total control of the settings. Adjusting the mood is easy when you have the right lighting controllers. Ideally, you'll have a central control device, like your smartphone or tablet for turning fixtures on and off, as well as dimming. Many systems allow you to set presets to have any mood at the push of a button.

Layered lighting can take your kitchen from good to fabulous! Creating the right lighting design for your kitchen remodel is an important step that can make your space comfortable, and functional, keep you safe when preparing food, and set the mood for that romantic dinner with your spouse when the kids are away at camp!

If you're planning a kitchen remodeling project in the greater Madison, Wisconsin area, give the experts at Degnan Design Build Remodel a call at (608) 846-5963. We're experts at creating kitchen designs that work for our clients, and we understand how to create a layered lighting design that will meet your needs and look beautiful while doing it!

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