Kitchen Lighting Design Guide
So often kitchen lighting is an afterthought, but planned and designed well, a lighting scheme can transform a new kitchen. Daisy Jeffery speaks to the experts to find out what you need to consider
We reveal how to get your lighting scheme right in this key room
The kitchen or kitchen diner is so often the hub of our homes these days, and as such, a good lighting scheme is really important. Of all the rooms in the house, it perhaps sees the most varied activities. Think of the tasks you may undertake in your kitchen diner – preparing dinner, working at the breakfast bar, cosy dinners at the dining table – and you’ll begin to see why getting the right lighting in the right places can really help make this space a success.
In order to get your kitchen lighting right, the key is to plan as early as possible, and to work out where your kitchen units and furniture will be going. The layout of your kitchen is vital to planning your lighting scheme, as Rebecca Hutchison of John Cullen Lighting explains: “You’re going to want your lights over worktops and not walkways. If you’re planning a kitchen diner, you don’t want the dining table where there isn’t going to be any light. You need to know the height of your units too and whether you’re going to want to light these spaces from above.”
With a little forward-thinking, you’ll also be able to plan in different layers of light: task, accent and ambient (general) lighting. Practical task lighting in the form of downlights and under-unit lights, for instance, are well placed
above worktops in order to illuminate task areas. If you’re designing your kitchen to include an island or table then you might consider pendants both as a focal point and to focus a soft glow on the table. While LED strips under breakfast bars, over wall units or illuminating shelves can then provide accent lighting, highlighting these features while bringing a warm backlight to create atmosphere in the evening. Finally, wall and table lights are a good means of providing general (or ambient) lighting
A good lighting scheme is not just about choosing the right type of lighting for the right spot — do consider how the colour of your LEDS will impact your scheme, too. The colour temperature of LEDS is measured in kelvins (or K) — daylight measures around 6,000-6,500 kelvins; conversely, candelight measures about 1,800 kelvins. While you may want your LEDS to give off ‘cool white’ light above task areas, ‘warm white’ is much more relaxing for dining areas.
“The most versatile colour for kitchen lighting is 2,700 kelvins, which gives off a slightly warm light that is creamy enough to have on during the day but is still a comfortable warm light for evenings,” adds Rebecca Hutchison. “For lights within shelving units, you would most likely have these on of an evening for atmosphere and so you’d more than likely select strips with extra warmth and go for 2,400 kelvins.”
Finally, a good lighting scheme is all about balance — if your scheme looks too busy on a lighting plan then that’s because it probably is. “The most common mistake is to puncture the ceiling with too many downlights — for an average-size room (4 x 4m) six downlighters is adequate. More than 10 can be excessive and not energy efficient,” says electrician Darryl Bertie. “I have seen obscene amounts of downlights in kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms. It’s tempting at the lighting design stage to overcompensate and worry about the lack of working light, particularly in kitchens. I design the layout of downlights in a room to give a maximum flood of light to cover the floor area.”
Specifying track or monorail lighting can be a cost-effective alternative; you’ll be able to position lights on the track to target the key areas you want to illuminate. Such a solution also means you will not need to puncture multiple holes in the ceiling.
Who will Oversee the Work?
Your kitchen lighting could fall to various parties to manage, depending on your budget, specification and willingness to spread the workload. You might want to engage a lighting designer to oversee work, however some kitchen companies will offer this service as part of a package or added extra. “For elements such as in-cabinet lighting, it very much depends on how you brief your kitchen supplier as to who is responsible for installing this,” says Rebecca Hutchison of John Cullen Lighting. “It’s worth noting though that if this is provided and installed by your kitchen supplier, you might not have the same colour of light as the rest of the lighting in the room — whereas if you specify all of your lighting from the same place then the warmth and brightness will be consistent and you’ll end up with a better result.” Alternatively you could work with your electrician who will be able to carry out the work on your behalf — you may even be able to take on some of the work yourself (for instance, chasing out walls) if your electrician is happy to sign it off. If you’re taking on any electrical work on a DIY basis, you’ll need to be aware of what you can and can’t do. Part L of the Building Regulations requires 75% of lighting in the new homes to be energy efficient, and if you add LED downlights and strip lights in the kitchen, this is going to take up a good proportion of