In these days of beautiful (not to mention expensive) work surfaces, choosing the correct type and colour of kitchen lighting has never been more important. That’s where having the widest options open to you is of the utmost importance, as is knowing what to use, where and why.
As the work surface is the only surface in any kitchen that is guaranteed to be affected by the light, I always advise that the type and colour temperature of the lighting should, for the most part, be governed by the colour choice of the work surface.
As an example: if you have a work surface where the base colour is dark e.g. black, then the tendency for most people is to choose daylight, which is understandable, however the other element you should consider is the other colours in the surface.
If, for example, the other colours are grey/white/silver, then daylight will enhance these. However, if you were to choose warm white that would cause these to become yellow in tone which really does not enhance them at all. Conversely, if the secondary colours were cream/copper/beige then the reverse would be the case, i.e. daylight would bleach those out but warm white, on the other hand, would warm up these tones and, in my opinion, enhance them.
Where you have timber (or timber effect) work surfaces, the choice of colour is also important. Where timbers are concerned, using daylight lighting brings the grain to the forefront, whereas Warm White enhances the background colour more. Where timber is concerned it is possible that, with the lighter toned work surfaces, clients may very well choose daylight as they wish to focus on the grain of the timber to give that more “Scandinavian” look. Therefore, designers should really consider that this is one area where it’s not so black and white (no pun intended).
There is, of course, the addition of natural white lighting which is a safe option as it has less of an impact on the work surface and is a mid-level colour temperature between daylight and warm white.
The next consideration is whether to go for spotlights or a LED aluminium profile/LED tape configuration, with the former giving the more traditional “spotting” effect and the latter a consistent light output across the full length of the work surfaces where there are wall units above.
There is a still a train of thought which is that the more “traditional” style kitchens should use spotlights and the more contemporary style kitchens should have the LED Tape/Profiles fitted, however, I believe that this is only part of the consideration.
Some examples of these considerations are: how much natural light is there in the room, how dark is the base colour of the actual work surfaces, what is the client’s preference which could be based on aesthetics or even on the quality of their own eyesight when it comes to task lighting. These considerations should not be ignored.
The next serious consideration is at what point should you introduce the question of kitchen lighting into the design/sales presentation? Traditionally, it has always been right at the end of the presentation, however I would strongly suggest that the lighting choice should be discussed immediately after the work surface has been chosen. This raises the importance of the lighting in the whole design scheme and also ensures that the client knows the options available and the effect those options will have over a major component of the kitchen, both from an aesthetic as well as a cost perspective.
By following the above process I would suggest that, not only does the client end up with a kitchen that looks beautiful but also works well operationally. Plus of course (and this has to be a consideration for any business) it also allows the designer to “up sell” and increase the total sale value as well as profit margins.
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