A gorgeous, newly remodeled kitchen is nothing without proper illumination to spotlight its unique features and elegant design.
However, selecting such light fixtures that adequately brighten all kitchen zones, that are suitable for older eyes and suit the space can be quite a challenge. Scroll through our imaginative lighting ideas and choose something that will work for you and will be visually pleasing.
As the aging adult population continues to increase, quality lighting’s role in meeting the needs of an aging visual system becomes an extremely important issue. As we age, even the healthiest eyes become much more sensitive to glare – it means that they need higher contrasts to see than they did when we were young, as well as higher levels of illumination. The lens of the eye becomes less flexible, denser and yellower. Colors we perceive become more muted and muddy.
It’s important to understand that older eyes require a bit different lighting solutions. Considering the location of the light source, the right amount of light and color temperature will improve your sense of well-being and it will also help create more beautiful household surroundings.
Modern kitchen lighting. | Photo by: Darren James Interiors
Let’s have a look at a few, interesting lighting solutions for our kitchens.
1. Ambient lighting
Ambient lighting is an important layer that is very often overlooked in the kitchen. It’s general lighting for walking around, identifying objects and casual kitchen activities. Ambient lighting can also be achieved perfectly if natural light is used well. If we have many windows and the kitchen has light colored surfaces we should have plenty of natural ambient light during the day. But our kitchens are used from early morning until late night, so we can’t rely on windows and daily light alone to provide adequate room lighting. The best option is a combination of natural light and high overhead light fixtures, such as track, ceiling-mounted or recessed lights. There are various possibilities to suit our taste – from neat minimalist lighting to stunning chandeliers. If we have a big kitchen, we can have only one large, centrally positioned ceiling fixture which is combined with a few smaller lights near the wall and ceiling and our overhead lighting needs should be fully met.
General kitchen lighting. | Photo by:Cornerstone Architects
Ambient lights can take the form of a simple on-off switch, but dimmers can also be a good idea. That way, we can control the amount of light as and how it’s needed. Just make sure is doesn’t hamper the comfort levels because with age we are more sensitive to light. If we have migraine issues or other health problems, we can be affected more when kitchen lighting isn’t right. So as we can see, dimmers can be of really great help in such situations. There is one more important rule connected with ambient lighting – it should be uniform within a room and from one room to another. Why? Because when we get older, our eyes take much longer to adjust to changes in light levels.
Ambient lighting creates a warm inviting glow in the room and is essential as kitchen becomes the primary social space in our home. It attracts people into the kitchen and makes them feel welcome.
2. Task lighting
“Task lighting is what people think of first when designing a lighting system in the kitchen because it’s integral to preparing food,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, director of education for the American Lighting Association. While ambient lighting is important for making the entire room navigable, task lights focus on a particular place. They provide higher light levels in a specific area dedicated to performing visual tasks, such as chopping, slicing and reading recipes. Why higher levels of lights are so important? Because normal age-related changes within our eyes restrict the light coming in and absorb the light – so we need more light to compensate.
If task lights are misplaced it can actually hinder our ability to work efficiently, throwing shadows on our workspace. Task lighting should be used everywhere we’re working. The countertop where meals are prepared, the cooking area surrounding the range, the cleanup area around the sink – are all task areas.
Plenty of options are available:
- The most popular are under-cabinet lights that illuminate a countertop to prepare food.
- Small ceiling- or wall-mounted fixtures provide task lighting over an island, eating areas or a sink. Just remember that the fixture should have a shielding glass or the light will be too bright and distracting.
- A microwave oven or range hood light provides task lighting over the range.
- Hanging or pendant lights are usually used over an eating space or over a center island. But do make sure the lighting is not too glaring. Light scatters within the eye causing an increased sensitivity to glare and the loss of the ability to see subtle details at lower light levels.
- Recessed can lights can be installed directly above a work area. Spotlight bulbs that have a tightly focused beam are perfect for more pinpoint lighting. It’s suggested to use one 60- or 75-watt bulb for every 20 inches of countertop.
Task lighting. | Photo by: Pillar Custom Homes
3. Accent lighting
Accent lighting is the least common layer in the kitchen. It’s more decorative than functional. Accent lights are something like a museum light, which can bring our attention to some unique features of our kitchen space. Such type of lighting gives our room a sense of depth and dimension. We use it very sparingly just to highlight those special kitchen objects that we want our guests to notice and admire. It may be an interesting piece of artwork, some architectural detail, a decorative splashback or a food presentation area. Lights in glass-front kitchen cabinets used to store fine china or glassware are also examples of accent lighting. Of course, we don’t have to use accent lights all the time, only when we want the item to be illuminated.
The examples of accent light fixtures are up-lighters, track lighting, wall sconces and directional eyeball lights. For accents, it’s suggested to use the brightest light available. The beam should be three to four times brighter than the surrounding general (ambient) light. Low-voltage halogen lights are perfect for this because their beam is quite intense.
Accent lighting. | Photo by: Cre8tive Interior Designs
4. Decorative lighting
Decorative lighting is like architectural jewelry – it adds sparkle to space. And like jewelry it’s also quite an expensive element of our lighting design scheme. This kind of lighting must be considered in direct proportion to the size of our kitchen – the larger the room, the greater importance hanging pendants, chandeliers and other eye-catching fixtures play.
Choices for kitchen light fixture finishes include materials like colored glass, pewter, wrought iron, and satin nickel. Shade material should have enough opacity to effectively hide the light bulb.
Decorative lighting. | Photo by: Northwick Design
5. Dimmers and switches – making the layers work together
Good lighting design requires good lighting control. The idea behind a layered lighting design (ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting) is to have a variety of light levels available at our fingertips. Dimmers and switches are the best way to coordinate lighting levels. These lighting controls enable us to put the right amount of light in the right places and switch off unnecessary lights without affecting the lights actually in use. If your budget allows, you may want to consider a central electronic control panel that allows you to turn lights on and off throughout the housing base on time of day, the amount of natural light, and how the spaces are being used at the moment.
Kitchen switches and dimmers. | Photo by: Great Spaces
The most common mistake we make is trying to light our entire kitchen with just one fixture centered in the ceiling. As we can see now after reading this article the most effective lighting for the kitchen involves four layers blended together: ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting. The end result: a warm and inviting environment that works with our other design elements to create a practical workspace and lively entertainment area. And everything our old eyes friendly!