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.
|Decorative Wall Sconce|
Wall Sconces placed midway on the wall can be used to balance overhead lighting and add a thoughtful dimension to your decor. The eye-level spread of light along a wall helps create an intimate ambiance in rooms and halls. As accent pieces, sconces can be used to flank architectural features, such as fireplaces and archways. In bedrooms sconces can be mounted on each side of the bed to serve as reading lights. While it is not necessary to match sconces to the style of overhead fixtures, keeping them within the same finish family will add continuity to the overall design. I actually like to combine modern and traditional styles in the same room to add a little pizzazz.
A sconce’s light source, not necessarily the back plate, should be mounted between 65″ – 68″ above the floor. Some sconces are linear and the back plate is either higher or lower than the actual light source. In these cases the electrical junction box must be located in the proper position on the wall to enable the light source to be at the proper height. Some scones have a narrow back plate and require a narrow junction box, called a switch box, rather than the junction boxes that most electricians routinely install. Please be sure to keep these facts in mind to avoid disappointment during the installation phase of your project.
Please visit http://www.fogglighting.com and like us on Facebook. I am always available for consultations on lighting plans.