Shedding Some Light on your Kitchen Makeover

Thinking about updating your kitchen? It’s probably time to do so. In fact, if you are like most people; it is probably more accurate to say it is past time. Here are some tips and techniques that will hopefully help you get into the planning stage and beyond…. into your dream kitchen!

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Some good news: many times simply re-lighting the kitchen is all you need to do in order to update an outdated kitchen. Restyling your lighting is certainly easier and less expensive than replacing cabinets. Even if you have bigger remodeling plans in mind, getting a good kitchen lighting plan together and investing in proper lighting is certainly going to be a worthwhile expense since good kitchen lighting usually has positive effects elsewhere in the home as we will soon discuss.

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Here are a few reasons why updating your kitchen lighting will have a dynamic, positive and cost effective impact on your home:

1) Today’s modern architecture has firmly established the kitchen as the focal point of most homes. The popularity of open floor plans places the kitchen directly off many family rooms. So no matter how fabulous ones great room may look, a kitchen that is in need of an update is going to have a negative effect on the total area. Putting together a stylish decorative kitchen lighting design with well controlled accent lighting that creates a dramatic focal point and/or subtle mood lighting will enhance the beauty of the entire living area.

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2) Maybe even more importantly, the kitchen is the life blood of the house. There is no fighting it, even if you do not fancy yourself as a gourmet chef (although with all the cooking shows on TV who hasn’t been tempted to show off in the kitchen at least once) have you ever noticed how even the simplest of get- together always end up with your guest gathering in the kitchen. Family, friends, everyone is always in your kitchen. Well, don’t fight it; take advantage of this powerful pull, fix it and the accomplishment flaunts itself. When you update your kitchen everyone notices!

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3) New home builders freely admit that lighting is frequently the first thing that gets cut from a budget when building a new home. That is often the case in spite of the fact that most designers know that for a kitchen to look and function at its best, it must be well lit. So there’s a very good chance that due to budget concerns the lighting half-way deserved an upgrade even before the home was even occupied for the first time. That’s okay, upgrading your lighting is much easier than most remodeling projects.

So let’s get to it!

A lot goes on in the typical family kitchen. Tasks are being done that range from food prep to homework. We read, we wash, we eat and we entertain. –So we need good, flexible lighting in the kitchen. Here’s the rule: In the kitchen, you should have at least 2.5 watts per square foot of incandescent light (or the equivalent: 40 lumens per square foot.) If you intend to use dark colors in your kitchen, consider using even more watts per foot as dark surfaces tend to absorb rather than reflect light. However, do not make this glaring mistake: Do not attempt to blast all that light from one fixture in the center of the kitchen. You will create shadows in so many of your task-oriented areas and produce a bright, glaring light that will not be pleasant. Instead what you want to create is well- balanced overall lighting and the best way to accomplish this is by layering your lighting. Every work area should be lit. Use under-cabinet lights were necessary. Use an island chandelier or 2-3 lanterns or pendants (or more depending on the length of the counter) over any center islands or peninsulas you may have. These hanging lights will allow you to bring your task lighting closer to your work area while reducing shadows. Most people prefer to use warm color incandescent lights especially when putting these lights on dimmers and that is something that is strongly recommended.

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Dimmers give you maximum control over when, where and how much light you use at a given time. You will certainly appreciate this control should you be seated eating at an island bar and even more so when you are through with your food prep and other tasks and you are ready to settle down and enjoy yourself in the family room. The soothing affects you can obtain by dimming your lighting or maybe just accenting one focal area in the kitchen, will improve the look, feel, and livability of the entire area.

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However, there is more to selecting kitchen light fixtures than just producing and controlling watts and lumens. Your lighting fixtures should be selected to enhance the aesthetics of your surrounds. At Shades of Light, we want to make certain that you remember to “Distinguish your Lifestyle” and want to share with you these tips:

1) The decorative lighting you select should be in keeping with the architectural style of the room and the specific style you wish to create for yourself. Should you have a large open kitchen and love that open airy look, consider using light open-airy lanterns or clear glass pendants to keep that spacious feeling. Do you have a warm rustic-lodge feel to your kitchen? Look for lights that enhance that feel. Love contemporary design? The relatively easy, quick change out of your pendant lights can quickly get you into the latest trends. From Bohemian to Steam Punk and Industrial to updated classic design, Shades of light will have the pendants to suit your personal style.
2) Need some color in your kitchen? Consider getting color from your pendants. Solid color pendants or Art Glass pendants might be just the pop of color you need.

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3) How many pendants or lanterns should you use across an island? Maybe the answer is one Island chandelier! Sorry, back to the question of how many pendants or lanterns to use; that is going to depend greatly on the size of the Island and the size of the pendants. For a kitchen island approximately 48” long you are going to want 2 or 3 in order to provide enough light for the area. Then factor in the size (width) of your favorite pendant or lantern and see whether two or three might work best. When you are considering the placement of your lights along the island, remember you don’t want people hitting their heads on the light fixture should they lean into the counter so plan to keep your lights 12”-18” from the ends of your islands and work your spacing plan in from there.

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4) How high above your kitchen island should you hang your pendants of lanterns? Most kitchen islands are between 36”-42” high. With that in mind, hang your light within the range of 30”-40” above the island surface. You want to bring your light down to the work surface but you don’t want to obstruct the views across the room.

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