The Gestalt Guide to Creating Atmosphere with Kitchen Lighting

The  Aquiline eight-arm chandelier  and  twin-arm wall light  are perfect for creating atmosphere in the kitchen.

The Aquiline eight-arm chandelier and twin-arm wall light are perfect for creating atmosphere in the kitchen.

At first glance it might seem that lighting design for the residential kitchen interior must be functional, above all else. While this is true to some extent—it certainly helps to be able to tell your sprouts from your spring greens on the chopping-board—the key to a stylish, cohesive home is remembering what lies at the heart of each space. For most, the kitchen is the nerve-centre of their abode. Families gather to feast, lovers cook to impress and those of us who choose to live peacefully alone make time to nourish ourselves, so shouldn’t we be using the tools at our disposable to create an atmosphere we love?

When it comes to creating atmosphere lighting is everything. A strategically placed kitchen pendant light or chandelier can transform a space, while thoughtfully placed table lamps and wall lights can provide the task lighting needed for a functional space without compromising on shadow and depth.

Do the math

In order to create appropriately lit areas for the preparation and plating of meals, multiply the square footage of the countertop area by 2.5 to determine how many watts of incandescent light you will need. If you’re unsure of how low to hang pendant lights or chandeliers over an island, make sure there are 75-80cm between the counter and the lowest hanging point.

Make an entrance

Wall lamps aren’t suitable for all areas of the kitchen, particularly those dominated by cabinetry, but for versatile kitchen-dining spaces they are the perfect choice for walls that sit between the dining and kitchen spaces, creating a welcoming entrance as you transition from preparation to the main event.

Be flexible

While many appliances and surfaces in a kitchen are fixed, your lighting need not be. Single or double-stem table lamps are becoming increasing popular in kitchens and, due to the small amount of surface space they take up, can be used to highlight interesting corners or even beautifully designed taps and fittings. They can also be repositioned to increase task lighting while consuming lower amounts of energy.

Style with layers

The difficulty in lighting a kitchen, compared to other more simplistically defined residential rooms, is that the space is innately versatile and the functional requirements of them can be aesthetically counter-intuitive. The key is to layer different lighting styles. A low-hanging kitchen pendant light might be perfect for lighting the sink area, but an eight-arm chandelier can also add the sort of contemporary glamour your kitchen-diner needs to elevate its charm.

Be prepared

The most common mistake when it comes to lighting design is treating it as an afterthought. This is particularly obvious in rooms like the kitchen and bathroom where fitted cabinets and appliances dominate precious wall and ceiling space. By planning ahead, and even consulting a specialist lighting designer, you can save money and stress by avoiding costly mistakes and factoring lighting into your budget early, while ensuring that your space is as intuitively lit as possible to create the effect you really want, not the one you’re forced to make the best of.

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Christopher Jenner