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Kitchen Light--How to Get It Right, Day or Night

by Susanne Clemenz

Kitchens are the most task-oriented room in most homes. The the proper kitchen lighting is essential to performing tasks safely, efficiently, and enjoyably. Here's how to analyze your kitchen light needs.

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Chart Your Kitchen Light Needs

That central kitchen ceiling light that was a big improvement 80 years ago is a detriment today. Make a chart of your kitchen lighting needs based on the following:

  • Non-electrical kitchen lighting ideas: Make columns on your chart for morning, noon, and evening. Note whether your light for food preparation is too much, too little, or just right for each time of day. A big east- or west-facing window may let in too much heat along with the light. Use pleated shades or mini-blinds for better control. If the room is too dark, install a small skylight, prune vegetation away from windows, and/or lighten reflective surfaces such as countertops, cabinets, floors, and walls.
  • Electrical kitchen light solutions: All lighting should direct the light onto your hands. Track lighting down the center of the room, for example, casts unwanted body shadows onto the work surface. High-efficiency lights are available for every kitchen task area--over the sink, the island, under cabinets, cooktops, the pantry. One idea is effective and decorative pendants sized for any of these areas. Separate switches for each area are desirable for energy efficiency and to use one or more lights for ambiance if you have a great room.

On your chart, note the best lighting for each time of day and each task area. Then, have fun shopping among today's attractive kitchen lighting ideas.


About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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