Kitchen: The lighting dilemma

I am at a design impasse.

The kitchen has been pretty functional for some time now.  There are several things left to finish this space, like the upper cabinets in the coffee bar area, and shelving above the new counter beside the range, but first I have to finally address the lighting issue…The lighting in the space needs some help…a lotta help, actually.  There are functional and aesthetic issues going on and I’ve been on the fence on how to address them. For like, a year.

Any room in your home should have a variety of lighting that allows you to, not only set whatever ambience you prefer, but more importantly addresses the functional needs of a space.

The best way to light a space is to make sure you cover the big three; general lighting, tasking lighting and, accent lighting

Typically you want some bright general light that illuminates the entire space, some directional task lighting that focuses extra brightness where you need it, and some accent lighting that acts as, or shines on, a focal point.

This is the current lighting and ceiling situation in the kitchen:

Ideally we would be tearing the ceiling out to add recessed fixtures and if this was the renovation for an all new kitchen, it would absolutely be happening.  The bulkhead that peninsula cabinets were mounted on now looks a bit out of place.  The central general light in the space is a huge old florescent fixture with a wood frame.  It’s bright, but I have to say hideous.  And finally, the fixture above the dining table isn’t where we need it to be with this new cupboard layout, it would be nice moved to a more central location.  Overall there are just too many accent fixtures in this small space.  Each element of lighting; general, accent and task, are all accent fixtures.  So its weird, and I’m not down with that kinda weird.

There is adequate general lighting in the space, in that it lights up the entire kitchen area, but because there is no task lighting, like under counter or directional fixtures, to illuminate directly over the counter, the general light creates a lot of shadow.  Its a bit frustrating, and it doesn’t need to be.  Task lighting is very important, especially in a kitchen, and when you combine me with sharp knives…well, disaster is bound to strike.

We already have a fix for that and will be adding some recessed fixtures in the bulkhead. This will address the task lighting issue, shining light down on the peninsula and removing the shadows cast by standing between the counter and the general light. That odd bulkhead then comes in handy because we can install the recessed fixtures inside it without much trouble.

We’ve also already switched out the pendant light above the sink, and even taking out that yellow glass shade has made a world of difference in the quality of light in this area.  The previous pendant’s shade emitted a yellow light that wasn’t very bright so it really wasn’t useful for actually lighting up that area.  The cement and wood fixture that we installed has a bright white LED bulb and an opaque shade that casts the light down right where we need it.  But now I’ve got to deal with the rest of the room…

Really, its the general light and the dining table accent light that I’m struggling with.  If I could just replace the big wood fluorescent with a few recessed fixtures, it would be great.  Then I could select an accent fixture that coordinates with the sink pendant for above the dining table and voila!  What I DON’T want to have is a fixture above the dining table AND another in the center of the kitchen area AND the pendant over the sink.  Its just TOO MANY FIXTURES.

I am already sad we couldn’t work in the wall scones I had envisioned. I wanted one above the new counter space to the left of the stove and two above the new coffee area, but no way could I add any more fixtures in this space. Lets just look at this beauty from Cedar and Moss, and adore it for a moment…

I love their entire line, and could install their fixtures into every room in my house! These ones just aren’t going to happen in this kitchen, sadly…perhaps in the master bedroom?  Gah! But I’m getting off topic.

Here are my top three options I am considering for above the dining table.

The first one is the Petal Light Globe I found on the Wayfair Canada site. It’s made from wood cut petals and would make such a great focal point, it’s so fun and sculptural! But there are a few things about it that don’t work.  The petals will cause the light emitted to be filtered, resulting in a glow, rather than a more general brightness.  This is the only fixture on this side of the kitchen, so the lighting really has to give off a more evenly distributed, bright light.

The second fixture is gorgeous and coordinates with the kitchen perfectly. The Ryker bowl pendant found again at Wayfair, has the perfect matte black with a touch of warm wood accent.  It could work well, although the light would only shine down on to the table and not up and out through the room.

The third one is very affordable, sculptural, and will allow a good amount of light to flood out into the room. It is the Sinnerling from Ikea, and very popular at the moment, but I like it and its vibe.  I am curious about what kinds of patterns the woven shade will throw, and it is just a shade so I’d need to pair it will a hardwired cord and bulb, but I think it would look great in the space.

That leaves us with this jewel…I could just paint it out in the ceiling color and call it a day.  After all, I have no idea what is underneath this humungo thing.  Is there a big hole in the drywall?  Is it just a typical light box? We won’t know until we take it down…you see my dilemma? Ultimately I have to keep in mind this is an affordable facelift and with that comes some restrictions.  My job is just to minimize them as best I can, maximize the function in the kitchen, and create that fresh, clean, airy feel in the space that supports mental clarity best.

I will be sure to post what we end up with in the lighting department for this kitchen facelift, and more importantly how it changes the functionality of the space.  Will we choose the Ikea shade? The matte black beauty? Or maybe a fixture that is perfect in every way that, although I’ve reviewed thousands of fixtures, I haven’t come across yet? …send help.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrea
    July 12, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I loveeee this space! Really great recommendations on those fixtures too, so pretty!

  • Reply
    Sandra
    July 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Seriously LOVE your style! I dream of owning a house one day and having you decorate it 😉 (I need someone else to convince Matt that no, we cannot have stainless steal cabinets in our kitchen to match the appliances lol!)

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