Whether undertaking a full remodel or just updating a few elements, lighting is an essential component in kitchen design. Lighting makes a kitchen functional (or not) and it also adds the final touch to the overall look of the room. It needs to blend into the architectural, functional and decorative plan. But it should also be sustainable for your home, your wallet and the planet. So what should your plan include?
A layered approach and some simple and common-sense considerations for sustainability.
1. Task lighting- recommended is a blend of recessed lighting in the ceiling positioned to shine down on counter space, plus under-cabinet lighting. LED bulbs should be used, and consider putting them on a dimmer to cut electric use by up to 40%. Lighting under the cabinet is very effective as it shines on the complete countertop and the backsplash without creating shadows and takes only a small amount of energy. Also, think about pendant lighting over an island and sink that is bright enough to make tasks in those areas easier. Have these light sources on multiple switches so you can turn on only the right amount of lighting where you need it for your task at hand.
2. Ambient lighting- this is the general overall lighting that creates a warm glow and fills in shadows to create a brighter feeling in the room. If possible, try to allow lots of daylight into your kitchen for natural ambient lighting - consider extra large windows, a skylight and removing upper cabinets to let more natural light shine in. Add in overhead ceiling light fixtures with LED bulbs that give daylight energy.
3. Accent lighting- this is decorative lighting used to elevate the style of the room and focus on special areas. It can include pendant lights or chandeliers. It may also include spot lighting for artwork or puck lighting inside glass cabinets. This is where you can show your own personal style, so think about the statement you want to make. An upcycled or vintage lamp will add style and sustainability by eliminating the need to consume new materials.
4. Light-coloured surfaces - I always recommend white or off-white cabinets as they are classic and never go out of style, but also because they lighten up the whole room. Natural and artificial light bounces better off of light coloured surfaces and therefore you don't need to consume as much electricity for ambient lighting.
Hope that helps simplify kitchen lighting decisions so you can make sustainable and stylish choices. Good luck!