Posts Tagged ‘halogen’
Sunday, June 20th, 2010
One of my absolute favorite home improvement projects is updating kitchen lighting. I think that’s because most kitchens have such crummy lighting and once you make the necessary changes, the impact is so dramatic. You feel like you’ve really done something!
I’ve always lived in older homes because my husband and I are attracted to unique properties — no cookie cutter tract homes for us. And so far circumstances haven’t come together for us to build a custom home from scratch. That’s definitely on my bucket list! But until then, it means I’ve dealt with some pretty awful kitchens. My 1950′s Cliff May designed California ranch style home may have been a mid-century modern masterpiece – but the the kitchen had literally only ONE wall sconce for a kitchen light, ONE kitchen drawer and FIVE linear feet of counter space. Not kidding! Then there is my current home which is a very contemporary open plan tri-level custom home built in the 70′s. It had that horrible dropped-ceiling fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen. Talk about an awful glaring light. I hated it every time I had to turn it on.
So, without dredging up further painful kitchen memories – here are
The three layers of light every kitchen needs! - Part 1 – Ambient Lighting
Ambient Lighting: This is your general source of light. It’s usually provided by a ceiling fixture of some type. Of course, lighting coming from windows counts too. Most older kitchens have a single fixture on the ceiling, or if you’re lucky, you might have a second one over the sink. In many kitchens from the 70′s it’s going to be that big fluorescent light hidden behind white plastic. My best recommendations to improve the ambient lighting include:
- Track Lighting – These are easy to install and fit right over the old j-box. They range from inexpensive systems found at big box stores to very high end systems available in many finishes and with many styles of spot lights that can be attached to the track. Track lights allow placement of several spot lights along the length of the track. Check with an electrician to be sure how many spots you can add to the track so you don’t overload the circuit.You can extend a single line or create L shapes, U shapes, or a square track configuration. If you are replacing a single old light fixture this now gives you ambient light throughout your kitchen instead of a single source. Spots can be aimed at the floor or also at artwork on the walls or down on a kitchen table.
- Recessed Can Lights – preferably adjustable – These are easiest to place in a ceiling with an attic above, but there are types that can be retrofitted from below. This usually costs more than track lights, and installation is best left to an electrician. They are popular because they provide lots of light without giving your ceiling a cluttered look. They don’t have quite as much flexibility in angle adjustment as the spots on a track light, but they still will allow you to aim the lights where needed.
- Chandeliers - If you have a high ceiling in your kitchen it can be a real style statement to include a chandelier. Select one that is an appropriate scale to the room in general so that it will provide sufficient light.
- Monorail Lights - These function pretty much the same way as track lights, but they hang lower from the ceiling, so are best used in rooms with high ceilings. In fact, this is my fixture of choice for kitchens with exceptionally high ceilings because they can be extended several feet down from the ceiling putting the light where you need it and putting light bulbs within easy reach for changing. Unlike tracks which are always straight lines, the monorail can be curved in any shape. You can have fun creating a curved application that looks graceful and puts light anywhere you want it.
- Skylights, Windows & Solatubes®: These won’t help you at night, but a skylight or one of the tube style daylighting systems will brighten up your kitchen so much, you may be able to skip turning on the lights even on a cloudy day. And you may want to evaluate your windows too. Could you increase the size? Add one?
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Tags: Ambient lighting, chandeliers, halogen, Kitchen, Lighting, monorail, pendant lights, sconces, task lighting, track lighting
Posted in DIY, Design Tips, Interior Design, Kitchen, Lighting, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »