A home’s lighting isn’t given the attention it should receive when a home is built or remodelled. It’s very important, yet it’s the first thing to be eliminated from a budget. While plenty of natural light from windows comes into a kitchen or bath, it’s the light fixtures that give homeowners the proper amount of light as well as focus lighting.
Types of Lighting
Builders typically install just enough lighting to the passcode. This leaves you, the homeowner, in need of either better lighting or eyeglasses. The kitchen and bathroom see more of the family than the living room, so they need to be lit the best and brightest.
For kitchens, there are four basic types of lighting: task, focus, ambient, and decorative lighting. You’ll find task lighting in pendant lights over the island or in under-cabinet lighting on the counters. You’ll need this type of lighting in order to chop vegetables and prepare meals.
Focus lighting is what you see when you turn on the light over the stove top. It helps you to see when your water is boiling and how quickly your food is cooking in the frying pan. And if you tend to chop vegetables on the kitchen counter, focus lighting beneath the cabinets works well, too.
Ambient lighting is the light on the ceiling. It illuminates the centre of the room, leaving shadows elsewhere. It’s a warm light better suited to set the mood rather than light you would need for configuring an apple pie crust.
Dangling globes of various materials, an accent wall covered in Christmas tree lights, sconces made with electric candles, fibre optic lights all fall into the “decorative” lighting category and can add a sparkle to life.
Homeowners should be aware that they can have all of the above in the same kitchen. Layering the lighting fixtures provides more than adequate light, especially when combined with natural light from windows and glass doors.
For all but the decorative lights, our suggestion is to use LED bulbs. They can last upwards of 20 years, come in varying strengths, and cost less than compact fluorescent lights. You’ll need whatever strength allows you to see that you’re shredding carrots instead of your fingers.
Bathrooms don’t enjoy the same wide open spaces that kitchens enjoy. They are usually small boxes, some with windows and some without. This makes good lighting more important than ever.
Bathrooms have become our space to relax, to slough off the cares of the day, and to meditate in preparation for restful sleep. This is even truer when you think of spa bathtubs, jets in the shower, and rain shower heads.
Lights pulse in time to the rain shower head, aromatherapy accents our bath, and fireplaces are showing up in more and more bathrooms. This soothing aura should be properly lit.
In bathrooms, you will find much the same types of lighting as in kitchens. Ambient lights serve to illuminate our endeavours. They usually come in flush-mounted fixtures and they’re good for lighting the way, but they tend to cast shadows on faces and hair.
Task lighting helps us shave and put on our makeup each morning. Perhaps the most important lighting choice will be around the vanity. You’ll want sconces or wall-mounted vertical lights much like actors and actresses use to do their makeup.
A task light over the shower stall is handy for all manner of personal grooming tasks. If the bathroom has a window, however, it may not be necessary.
Focus lighting can highlight a lovely granite countertop or that special sink you have in the room while decorative lighting will show off a pretty painting or that fireplace we were discussing earlier.
Choose recessed lighting carefully. They typically only shine light straight down and they don’t cast shadows as ambient lighting does. While they do add another layer of light to the bathroom, they don’t do much for actions requiring bright light. We recommend only having them installed over the shower or tub.