But inside the kitchen it's quite a different matter. Floor lamps do not belong in the kitchen; and in only very rare instance may you find a table lamp. So, lightning in the kitchen area needs to perform two functions at the same time:
- The lighting needs to be powerful enough to encompass the entire kitchen area; and
- The lighting needs to illuminate small, specific zones, such as places where food preparation or cooking will be done.
1. Recessed LightingThe classic solution to the kitchen lighting problem is recessed lighting. These are sometimes called can lights. With popular diameters of 4", 5", and 6", recessed lights provide more than enough illumination to certain required areas of the countertop or kitchen island. Either halogen or incandescent bulbs can be used.
But one problem with recessed lighting is that of shadows. Because the lighting is at ceiling height, and because of obstructions such as kitchen cabinetry, shadows are easily cast upon the work area. Not only that, but recessed lighting is a notorious energy waster. Recessed lights waste power in two major ways: they use large, high wattage bulbs which suck up plenty of power, and they let room heat escape into the attic.
Finally, recessed lighting is permanent. You need to think long and hard about where you think you will need the lighting, because once the lighting is installed it is extremely difficult to move. And the problem with this is that most cooks do not really know where they will need the lighting until they have used the kitchen for a while.
2. Track LightingTrack lighting provides good lighting for the kitchen, and has arisen in popularity in the last several decades. Track lighting has many of the same good qualities of recessed lighting, with few of recessed lighting's flaws.
Track lighting is installed on the bottom of the ceiling, and individual light fixtures along the track can be moved easily wherever needed. Also, these individual fixtures can be added or removed if you need more or less light. Because no holes are cut into the ceiling, air leakage is not a problem. However, track lights do consume a lot of energy. Track lights have much of the same shadowing problem as to recessed lights. Yet because track lights can be moved, it is possible to move a light either forward or backward to avoid the shadow problem.
3. Flush-Mount Ceiling FixturesFlush mount ceiling fixtures probably have the least utility in the kitchen. A flush mount ceiling fixture is simply one or two bulbs covered by a translucent cover, usually in the center of the room.
Flush mount ceiling fixtures are great when you first enter a room. You flip the switch and suddenly you can see where you're walking. But beyond that, they don't do much to illuminate counter space. They are mounted high on the ceiling, yet do not have the same wattage as recessed lights.
One bit of advice regarding kitchen pendant lights: go sparingly on them. Recessed lights can be multiplied almost endlessly, because they are mounted flush with the ceiling and are not very noticeable. But because pendant lights are hanging down, adding more than three or four begins to make the kitchen look cluttered.
But if your pendant lights are spaced out intelligently, they will adequately illuminate your work surfaces. Add in a flush mount ceiling fixture or a couple of recessed lights in the center of the room, and now you have covered both workspaces and the general kitchen area.
Want pendant light suggestions? Check out our kitchen pendant light picture gallery.
Kitchen ceiling lighting doesn't have to mean banks of boring fluorescent lights. Nowadays, anything can go! The Craftsman Lantern Style Kitchen Pendant from Signature Hardware provides adequate light to small spaces, and has a great, antique look. If your kitchen island needs light, the Lakewood Windsor Bronze Kitchen Island Light Maxim stretches a full 45 inches long, and uses three bulbs within three separate lamp fixtures.