Lighting is an incredibly important aspect of interior design and architecture. It has the power to create ambience and highlight design features or to dampen the atmosphere and dull down a design scheme.
On a practical level, a room must be well lit to ensure that you can go about your daily duties with ease. However, lighting your home to maximise your comfort, wellbeing and productivity requires a new level of expertise and specialist lighting design has become a standard for modern luxury homes.
In this guide, our designers provide an introduction to luxury lighting. We share expert advice to inspire the lighting design of your kitchen along with imagery of some of our favourite Extreme lighting design projects.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LIGHTING
To understand the importance of lighting an interior space, we should first reflect on how light impacts us on a physiological level.
Natural light plays a vital role in wellbeing and productivity. Our circadian rhythm controls our feeling of alertness and sleepiness throughout each day. This alert-sleep cycle is determined internally by our hypothalamus; however, external factors of our environment can influence it, such as light.
You may have noticed that natural light differs in colour throughout each day. Generally speaking, natural light has a more yellow/orange tone in the mornings and evenings (referred to as ‘warm’) with more white or blue-toned light during the day (referred to as ‘cool/cold’). These colour changes signal to our brain how alert we should be and the same is true for the lighting in your home. The colour temperature of artificial lighting can improve or decrease your alertness.
The colour temperature of lighting throughout your home should draw on this principle, ensuring that the colour of light in each room reflects its function. For instance, it can be beneficial to use a ‘cooler’ light in functional spaces that are used during the daytime to mirror natural daylight. These would include kitchens, bathrooms, home offices and home gyms. Equally, choosing ‘warmer’ lighting can be more suitable for rooms in which you spend time in the evenings, such as bedrooms and living rooms. The warmer light will help you to wind down from your day and prepare for bedtime. Warmer lighting can create a more cosy, intimate feel making it the perfect choice for a home bar or cinema.
Many of the rooms in our homes are multi-purpose. A kitchen – although used throughout the day – can also be a place to entertain friends for an elegant dinner party. If your kitchen is open plan, it may join your informal living space where you also relax in the evening. Therefore, zoning your lighting scheme is beneficial to give you greater flexibility over your lighting to suit each moment.
It is standard practice to design lighting as multiple circuits with each circuit illuminating a particular zone. During the day, you may like your ceiling spotlights switched on along with your task lighting and feature lighting. However, our designers recommend setting up a circuit so that you can turn on the feature lighting in your kitchen without the main lights. This type of lighting is perfect for dinner parties or a romantic evening at home as the lighting is dim, creating the intimate ambience that we mentioned earlier.
TYPES OF LIGHTING
To begin to build a picture of your lighting zones, let’s take a look at the main types of lighting. These are:
- General Lighting
- Task Lighting
- Accent Lighting
Read on to learn about each type of lighting and see examples to incorporate into your own kitchen.
General lighting is the foundation of a lighting scheme (also referred to as ‘ambient lighting’). This type of lighting illuminates the room for practical reasons, ensuring that you have a base level of light for day and night use. General lighting is often a direct source of light, such as a central chandelier or ceiling downlights. It is recommended that this lighting be installed with a dimmer switch to adjust the level of light as daylight changes. Often, the general lighting in your kitchen will be a cooler toned light to reflect daylight.
A large chandelier in the centre of a room, although beautiful, should be supported by additional lighting. A central downlight will create unflattering shadows and leave undesirable under-lit areas. Combing your chandelier with ceiling spotlights will create a more even glow of light.
KITCHEN TASK LIGHTING
Task lighting, as the name suggests, refers to a light source positioned to provide illumination for a specific activity. These light sources require a higher wattage than general lighting to provide enough visibility for the task at hand. It’s essential to combine task lighting with ambient light to avoid sharp contrasts between light and dark areas which can cause eye strain. In a kitchen, task lighting is required for activities such as cooking, prepping and washing dishes.
Under-cabinet lighting, as seen in the kitchen above, illuminates shadows underneath the cabinetry and creates an appropriate lighting level for washing fruits and vegetables or dishes.
Under-cabinet lighting can also be a striking design feature. If your kitchen has a feature splashback like in the kitchen above, downlighting will bring to life the texture and colour of the stone.
Pendant lights positioned above a kitchen island can also provide task lighting. The Falmec Dama pendant light in the kitchen pictured above serves two purposes; it is a source of light and an extractor cooker hood to remove odours and vapours produced from cooking. As we have covered, if your pendant lighting functions as task lighting it will need to be bright enough for this purpose. Therefore, we recommended having the ability to dim the level of light. As this light is a feature within your kitchen, you will want it to be switched on when entertaining, and if the light is too strong, it will ruin the atmosphere of the room.
KITCHEN ACCENT LIGHTING
Accent lighting is perhaps the most exciting type of kitchen lighting. Whereas task lighting and general lighting both serve functional purposes, accent lighting is predominantly for aesthetic reasons. Accent lighting draws attention to specific features within the room, such as artwork, sculptures or pieces of furniture. In a kitchen, accent lighting can enhance the lines or curves of a design scheme and breathe life into the kitchen’s materials, colours and textures. Typically, accent lighting requires more lumens and subsequently, a higher wattage.
As designers, the accent lighting is how we can bring a kitchen or furniture design to life by incorporating design features into the kitchen design itself. Our designers have selected some accent kitchen lighting ideas to inspire your design.
KITCHEN ACCENT LIGHTING IDEAS
Feature Panel Lighting
LED lighting can illuminate a feature panel, such as this one handcrafted from oak. This lighting will create a beautiful feature, cascading light downward to accentuate the design.
Integrated Shelf Lighting
The integrated shelf lighting in this bespoke drinks cabinet lights up the objects on each shelf. At night, the lighting draws the eye to this feature of the kitchen and reflects off the bevelled mirror to create a glamorous shimmer.
Handle Rail Lighting
Handleless cabinetry features a rebated channel handle. This channel underneath the worktop can be lit using LED light to create a striking feature. This type of lighting is most often seen on a kitchen island, although it can be applied to any lower level cabinetry within a kitchen.
Internal Cabinet Lighting
Cabinets can be lit from the inside. For kitchens with solid doors, the main purpose of internal lights is to illuminate the items inside and these lights are operated by a sensor which is activated when the door is opened. However, this lighting can create an exquisite feature when paired with glazed kitchen doors.
Kitchen Plinth Lighting
Set the mood with plinth lights. This lighting is especially effective when paired with a stylish plinth such as this one created from luxurious bevelled mirror panels.
Commission A Bespoke Feature Light
Furniture, art and design can combine to create a light fixture that integrates into your kitchen. Commission a designer to produce a bespoke light that can be installed as an accessory to your kitchen.
Shadow Gap Lighting
A shadow line – also referred to as a shadow gap – is a small clearance or recessed gap. In relation to lighting, a shadow gap in a kitchen typically refers to the intentional gap between the furniture and the wall. A shadow gap can be finished in a bold material or texture to create a beautiful feature. However, LED lighting can be integrated within the shadow gap to enhance this feature and create a striking effect.
The kitchen above demonstrates how the accent lighting in your kitchen can create a sumptuous and luxurious environment even without additional lighting. A shadow gap frames the back wall of furniture, drawing the eye down from the high ceilings and accentuating the shape of the room. The lighting beneath the kitchen island creates a warm glow around the base and the effect that the island is floating.
PLANNING YOUR KITCHEN LIGHTING
Interior lighting design must be considered at the start of your project, ideally during the planning phase. Your architect will consider lighting and electrical needs when draughting your architectural plans and we recommend appointing your kitchen designer at this early stage so that you can finalise your design scheme ahead of building works. Your lighting requirements can then be built into your plans from the start, ensuring that the necessary cables can be run.
At Extreme, we have had the pleasure of helping many clients to create exceptional lighting features within their kitchens, bedrooms, home offices and home bars. We approach each design by looking at the entire environment, the architecture of your property and your interior scheme. Each lighting scheme that we design will work in harmony with the overall lighting scheme of your home and we collaborate directly with your Architect, Interior Designer and Construction Professionals to achieve this.