Thursday, 19 January 2012 6:31 PM
When planning to remodel your kitchen, one of the most important things to get right is the lighting. You need to ensure that not only is your stylish new room shown off to its maximum potential, but also that you have sufficient light above the work surfaces, sink and cooker.
Selecting kitchen lighting used to be a simple business, as there was not much choice. You could either opt for traditional incandescent light bulbs – which have now been replaced by low-energy alternatives - or a much brighter strip light for the room.
In the same way that the range of appliances for the kitchen has grown in recent years, so has the number of lighting options. You can now choose from LEDs, down lights, spotlights and a range of fittings designed to be installed in cupboards, under shelves and on walls.
Despite this, a fluorescent strip light is still one of the best options on the market. Ceiling-mounted models are available in a range of different sizes, up to 95 cm long, and are among the most effective ways of lighting a large kitchen or open-plan room.
However, not everyone likes the way strip lights look or how bright they are. If they are not to your taste, you may wish to search for something a little more discreet to fit into a sleek modern design scheme.
One popular option with kitchen designers is down lights. Typically, these are quite small and you need a number of them to generate enough light for the room. They can be mounted on the surface of the ceiling, but they are usually fitted into recesses - a task it is best to get a qualified electrician to do.
Such an arrangement normally results in a much softer light, which you may find to be more comfortable if you use the room for dining. You need not worry that having a selection of down lights will use too much electricity, as they are available in low-energy and LED models.
You may wish to augment your main lighting with some area-specific options. Fitting small wall-mounted strip or spotlights over the work surfaces means you can have all the light you require while using your kitchen accessories and preparing food, but without needing to switch on the main lights.
Walls are not the only places suitable for small strip or down lights. There are models available that are designed specifically to fit under shelves, cabinets or cooker hoods, which can be particularly useful if you have a small dark room.
Another option well worth considering is a light above the hob that uses the same switch as your extractor fan. It will come on every time you need the fan, so will provide improved light when you are cooking.
You may also want to look into cupboard and drawer lights. There are two main types of these - one purely practical and the other entirely for aesthetics.
It can be difficult to see what you have in dark drawers and cupboards - something that is a particular problem in kitchens with small windows. Fitting lights that come on automatically when they are opened can make finding things much easier.
The other sort of cupboard lights are designed for use in glass-fronted cabinets. They can be switched on to showcase what is on the shelves or for mood lighting while dining.