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Lighting the Home: The Kitchen: 2

04-02-2014

The Kitchen - a balancing act

My previous post about lighting for kitchens was deliberately short and to the point - kitchens are workshops and should be treated as such. But let's develop that theme a bit further, as a few commentators have expressed the opinion that there is a difference between a kitchen and a bicycle repair shop. Well - up to a point, I say.

For the most part, we light our homes from a decorative standpoint and hope that some practical use comes out of it once the dust has settled and the first button needs to be sewn on. And if we can't see to thread he needle, its simply a case of moving closer to a table lamp, or shifting the lamp closer to us. And in this way, we muddle through.

Kitchens are rarely so forgiving, and that's why we need to keep in mind that its the functionality that matters and the fancy stuff comes afterwards - sometimes a long way afterwards.

If you're fortunate enough to have a kitchen big enough to play team sports in, then you can break down the areas of the room by their expected usage - so keeping the practical lighting to the main work surfaces, whilst feeding your inner decorative beast with some wonderful feature elements around the breakfast bar of above the romatic cafe table looking out over the patio.

On the other hand, if your kitchen is of the 'galley' variety, then you may struggle to find room for more than one or two fixtures. In which case, make sure that you go for a fixture that splashes its light all around the room, reflecting off as many light-coloured surfaces as you can create - and generally making itself as effective as possible.

And don't feel obliged to have the fixture in the centre of the ceiling. If your kitchen layout is such that you work all around the room, then a central location may be the most practical, but many kitchens work with one run of work surface - so why not give your lighting pattern some emphasis by moving the lighting location closer to that side - it doesn't mean that the other side of the room ends up being plunged into darkness.

What kind of fitting?

Definitely NOT a spotlight, particularly if you're trying to light the entire room. I like to see light fittings with a large lighted surface - maybe a glass bowl - and there are even some attractive linear fluorescent fixtures out there (check out Video 3:Part 2  of the Re-lighting of The Coach House, over there in the left-hand panel). The smaller the source of light, the more shadows you make, and shadows are a Bad Thing (in this context). The larger the source of light, the softer the shadows become, and this is much more useful to all concerned.

 

 

 

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