Thursday, January 26

Counter Illumination

Few things kill the creative space faster than poor lighting. Stage plays, films, and dance productions have all met their demise—regardless of performance or production—due to alighting faux paw. The kitchen counter can easily meet a similar fate, unless you take the time to assess the needs and wants of your culinary locale; and after all the time and money invested in a kitchen revamp, expending a little extra effort on realizing your ideal lighting scenario will make all the difference on how you, and your guests, can enjoy the heart of your home.

The first thing to bear in mind before tackling the task of lighting your kitchen is to ask yourself: what will be the overall use of this space? Is your kitchen the scene of entertainment for special guests?—or merely a staging ground for feeding the members of the household. Did you spend a little extra on the Almond Bisque wall coloring?—or was flat brown good enough? Questions such as these will assist you in making certain your kitchen possesses the proper ambient light needed to accomplish the tasks at hand, and the answers will lead you to determine the type of light most appropriate for your situation.

If the goal of your kitchen is simply to get by with a "good enough" appeal, basic fluorescent lighting may be your best bet. Efficient and long-lasting, fluorescent lighting will get you in, out, and on with life without constant worry of climbing on chairs to replace a burned-out bulb. You will have adequate light to prepare your meals, read the Sunday paper, and give you a warm, green feeling when you pay the power bill at the end of each month. This sort of lighting generally works best in a compact kitchen with soft-colored walls.

In your home, the kitchen may be more of a place for you--and yours--to spend quality time sitting and socializing about the day. You may prefer a warmer, cozier setting for this sort of daily interaction--a setting with mood and color. In this instance, incandescent bulbs may fit the bill; however, you should be aware of some of the issues that can arise with this sort of bulb. Incandescent bulbs will burn out much quicker than other bulbs, and often require more energy to operate. Incandescent bulbs are also apt to conduct more heat, meaning if you live in a warmer climate, this may be an issue for you.

Often in a kitchen, there are specific decorative aspects you wish to highlight. Perhaps you have a special framed print you want to present as the centerpiece of your kitchen, or you hope to accent the decorative backsplash above your counter. Halogen lights are ideal for this task, and are great for placing above islands or above countertops. Halogen lights can be used in track lighting or with directional fixtures, and will allow you to achieve the precise lighting you are looking for. Halogen lights last longer than incandescent bulbs, but often cost much more to replace.

In the end, it comes down to personal taste. This is your kitchen, and chances are you will spend more time there than any guests you hope to entertain. Find the look that is most pleasing to you and, like framed art, should fit your needs. You have complete control of the setting, and in the end, your options are limited only by your imagination, and what your budget will allow.