In a monthly column, Lori Powell of Fogg Lighting in Portland offers her expert tips on illuminating your home.
In most homes, the kitchen tends to be the center of gravity. And yet for all the time we spend there — chopping, cooking, noshing, cleaning, helping with homework, lingering over leftovers — kitchens are often drastically under-lit, with a single ceiling fixture in the center of the room that creates irritating shadows in the areas we most need to illuminate. Here are some steps you can take to brighten up your cookspace.
First, get on task. Your time in the kitchen is task-oriented, so your lighting should be too. If you’re standing at a counter and the light is behind you, your body will cast a shadow over the surface, making it harder to see what you’re doing — not ideal, especially if you’re working with sharp utensils. To brighten up work areas, place recessed, track, and/or under-cabinet lighting over countertops, tables, islands, sinks, and other surfaces you use frequently.
Then, think layers. Because of the wide variety of tasks you do in the kitchen, one light will never provide all the illumination you need. Layering the light — adding different sources around the room — will give you the flexibility to customize the lighting to suit your changing needs. If you’re hosting a dinner party, for example, you can dim the overhead lights to create ambiance, and keep under-cabinet lighting on to illuminate the areas where you’re serving and preparing food.
Find the right fixtures. Adding fixtures on walls, in glass cabinets, and over sinks and islands will brighten and warm the room, while providing decorative accents that can enhance the look. Consider adding pendants over sinks and islands — allow 30 to 36 inches between the countertop and the bottom of the fixture for optimum illumination. Above sinks, pendants should be hung higher, so that people don’t bang their heads against them while doing dishes.
Decorative lighting includes Wall Sconces, Chandeliers, Flush Mounts, Semi-Flush Mounts and Pendants. The proper combinations of these five elements insure an interesting, attractive lighting design for any room. Using different elements of lighting is called layering. Many layers of light make the difference between an OK room and WOW room.
Flush mounted light fixtures are the most maligned light fixtures of all fixtures. They have earned their reputation because of all the bad flush-mounts out there in the lighting universe. Guess what – there are some really attractive flush-mounts available and they are absolutely needed in lots of applications. In certain applications, when you do not want to make a decorating statement, there are really plain vanilla flush-mounts that just sort of disappear on a white ceiling. Flush-mount do not have to be ugly! Dispense with any preconceived notions about flush mounted fixtures and welcome them into your home. You do not have to be ashamed to say you have a flush-mount in your front hall!
Because they illuminate with little downward obtrusion, flush mounted fixtures are ideal for providing ambient light in high traffic areas, such as hallways. They can also work well as a centerpiece when a lower hanging fixture would interfere with views or flow, especially when ceiling height is limited. I like using a flush mounted center ceiling fixture in bedrooms, usually a plain white one. Closets and laundry rooms are other areas where a flush-mounts are ideal. Outside porches, bathrooms and even showers are opportunities for using flush mounted fixtures, provided they have either damp or wet location ratings. Let your imagination be your guide.
Please visit http://www.fogglighting.com and like us on Facebook. I am always available for consultations on lighting plans.