The Enlightened Cook – Suggestions for Kitchen Lighting
Throw on a tank top and well-worn jeans, add a vintage blazer and a pair of designer shoes. The result? Those alligator pumps make the basic ensemble chic. One well chosen accessory makes the outfit. In home design, thoughtful lighting acts as jewelry for the room. Casual kitchens become personalized with the addition of art and antiques. Formal elements add dimension to formally function-focused rooms. General lighting and task lighting is always necessary, but current trends are focused on pieces that are more art than appliance.
Kitchens require layered lighting. Soft yellow incandescents, including recessed downlights, work for general lighting. Crisp white light is best for work areas. Rely on halogen bulbs for task lighting, mounted underneath shelves to avoid shadows. The basic scheme can be controlled with programmable dimmer switches. New designer-colored controls can be pre-set to favorite settings like a car radio. The next layer is more decorative, but also provides ambient glow. Kitchens are put to many family purposes, and the lighting needs to be just as versatile.
Hanging pendants play perfectly above center islands. Available in a dizzying array of styles, they add a creative pop. Glass shades echo all of the shapes of cocktail glasses: upside down martinis, flutes, goblets, and highballs, as well as orbs, cubes, and drums. Hand-blown glass is popular in the caramel and chocolate tortoiseshell tones, mod multicolored swirls, primary brights, and deep jewel tones. Monorail tracks can be straight or curlicue over islands. Groups of three lights tend to look best.
Turn everyday dinners into fine dining under an exquisite lighting. Brilliant cut crystal chandeliers give any kitchen a couture vibe. Classicists should indulge in curling polished silver, gilded, or bronze frames with electrified candlesticks and romantic tear-drop pendants. Edgier folks should opt for more geometric frames with cascading ribbons of pendants. Make the look more contemporary with amethyst, black, or red crystals.
Don’t be afraid to bring extravagant chandeliers into more casual kitchens. Just as diamonds wear well with any wardrobe, they add a little class. Shadeless chandeliers are in fashion, though capricious types can change shades depending on mood or season. Eccentric mixes are encouraged this season – just pay attention to scale. As a general rule, add the width and length of the room. The sum (in feet) is the number of inches the diameter of the proposed fixture.
Flood the kitchen with sun. Open up small quarters by taking advantage of natural light. Skylights and glass brick walls are aesthetic light sources that won’t sacrifice privacy.
As in living areas, use small spots to draw the eye to the focal point of the room, whether it be art or architectural features. Uplights on top of cabinetry will highlight high ceilings. Adding touch-control lighting to glass front cabinets helps showcase the treasures within.
Treat light fixtures as works of art themselves. Let them express your personality. Embrace color and luxury in your lighting scheme and your kitchen’s sure to be in style.