Layered Lighting?

Updated kitchen lighting

Updated kitchen lighting

Yesterday, I revealed our Florida kitchen. Today I’ll use the same room to start a bigger discussion on lighting.

I think before I made any decisions about the design of the kitchen, I decided to pull out the over head fluorescent lights. Nothing like doing your cooking in a place that’s lit like a big box store. Actually, I think big box stores might have better lighting these days!

It was ugly and not fun light to look at food under. We were working with a tight budget on this house, so when we could work with something that we had, we did.

Left Wall of Kitchen Before Renovation

We started with these fluorescent overheads-ick!

We didn’t want to redo the kitchen ceiling, so we had the fluorescent lights pulled out, the ceiling patched and recessed can lights put in the over head space. This provides our general lighting in the room. We also get great light through the window.

Of course, I couldn’t stop there! If you’re into decorating at all, you will repeatedly read that you should ‘layer’ lighting in a room. What does that mean?

Sink view before renovation

You can’t see it, but behind that board over the sink there was a recessed square light, so we didn’t need to add electric. We were able to just reconfigure what was there to install a pendant.

Layering your light means that in any room, you want to have various sources of light for different jobs and at different levels. This will make the room more visually interesting and comfortable for all its uses. Usually, the different types of lighting are referred to as ambient, task, and accent.

How does light make a room more interesting? Because our eyes are naturally drawn toward light when we enter a space. So having your eye roam the room it takes in the various spaces and textures keeping the room from appearing dull or flat.

Ambient Light – This is the general lighting in a room that brightens the whole space. If it were up to me, my houses would be made of glass and all my general lighting on dimmers. I love a bright room, much to my husband’s annoyance (we’re both thrifty by nature, but I can’t skimp on light). The one room in our Maryland house without overhead lighting is our living room and it drives me crazy. The room has 2 standing lights and 2 tabletop lights and it is never bright enough! Part of the problem is there are 2 small windows for a very large room and they don’t get much sun. In other rooms in our house we have enough windows that they give general lighting and you don’t need much overhead light. Post coming one day soon on what I do to brighten our living room!

Accent Light – You may want people’s eyes drawn to certain things in a room. For example, you could have sconces framing the fireplace that is the focal point. Or art lights over a fabulous painting. Accent lighting is a great way to ‘accentuate the positive’ in a room.

Task Lighting – Usually, task lighting takes the form of tabletop or standing lamps, except in a kitchen where it could be spots or under cabinet lights. Think of a room where you read and watch television, you might want bright direct light for reading and low background light for TV watching. So even though you have great overhead lights, your spouse can dim those and watch a movie, while you curl up with House Beautiful in the corner chair.

Light Over Kitchen Sink

Accent light over the kitchen sink

Now back to the kitchen…. our accent lighting is the over sink light. If you walk into the kitchen, you are drawn to that light which with its clear glass shade leads your eye right out the window to a beautiful patio and pool. Which really, in a vacation home, is the focal point!

This pendant light wasn’t my first choice. I had a white metal farmhouse style pendant that was so warped out of shape it looked bizarre. When I went to return it they were back ordered. I found this light and I think it worked out better because of the glass shade. The clear glass shade allows this fixture to light the rest of the kitchen and the work spaces, too. So, between this and the overhead can lights, I was able to get away without any dedicated task lighting in this room. I can always go back and put in some under cabinet lights later (have you seen the battery-powered LED ones? no need for an electrician or wiring).

I hope this is helpful when working on your own house. Lighting is a powerful way to alter a room. And you can find ways to do it that keep the cost down and don’t create a huge project. More on that, as I brainstorm how to fix my badly lit living room!



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