Ever wonder why hotels and fine dining restaurants seem more extravagant, soothing, and more comfortable than a fast-food joint? Also, apart from the food and the way the furniture is set up, the big difference can be attributed to the lighting elements. Try to come to a restaurant hours before it opens; with all the white lights on, and you’ll be surprised to see that it’s probably not as special and as swanky as you might have thought.
When visualizing kitchens, the first thing that comes to mind are kitchen cabinets and appliances; lighting fixtures are later discussed. Some people think that lights are just secondary elements that can be discarded later. This is where people commit one of the biggest mistakes in home ownership. Many fail to see light as a vital and inexpensive tool that can dramatically transform any room into something that has a visual impact, comfort, and an image of perfection – much like what you see in catalogs. If you think having a look like this might be far-fetched, think again. It also hides any ‘imperfections’ in the kitchen, making it look spotless and perfect.
If you must choose light fixtures, choose types that allow you to balance function and design while keeping a budget. In this way, you will meet your need for light without making you suffer the grocery budget of two months. A carefully thought out kitchen lighting plan can also help reduce utility bills, which is what every family wants in a low economy. Check out these 7 lucky ideas for inspiration and light up in style.
1. Natural light
Undoubtedly the cheapest form of lighting system, the sun shining on the kitchen can save you a lot of money in utility bills. Consider wider windows and open them during the day or install full-length glass windows that let you enjoy the glory of the sun from your kitchen. This way, you will only need to turn on a few artificial lights during the day. This is instantly cutting your bills in half!
2. Contemporary task lights
These are perfect for brightening up kitchen islands which is extremely important when dealing with sharp knives. Having enough light is also essential to ensure that the food you are preparing is in its best form – visually appealing and more importantly, free from contamination and other deterrents. There are many options and styles available, and they don’t have to be expensive. You can go for aluminum pendant lights, wall mounted, or clip-corded chrome types if your kitchen theme is contemporary. Swing task lamps are also an ideal choice as they are very versatile; you can adjust and rotate to the area where you need it. They blend well with your fixtures or stainless appliances and chrome cabinet hardware. If you’re sporting a traditional theme, opt for multifaceted chandeliers.
3. Nifty Thrifty chandeliers
Chandeliers provide dramatic and ambient lighting that makes any kitchen look pleasantly elegant. The downside though is that it’s expensive… that is if you don’t know where to look. Gone are the days when the only way to get a handsome Chandelier is through a specialty lighting store, which meant you had to be willing to shell out some serious dough for it. Now, people are more street smart in their choices, linking value, style and function. As a result, they shop for used chandeliers at thrift stores, vintage stores, and online auctions as options, aside from the usual home depot and lighting stores. You will be surprised by how much “goodness” you can find in these places. With all these options available, it will be one exciting hunt for that perfect chandelier to light up the kitchen.
4. Multi-dimensional light
We will emphasize once again the need to plan everything before execution. There is more to the design of a room than just the layout and decoration. Add depth and drama to your room by combining and having multiple switching options. This means you have the option of having some lights open and others closed according to your need and preference. Too many light fixtures in your kitchen can mean big costs in utility and wiring bills. However, multi-dimensional lighting solves that by balancing form and function. This also saves you from installing two or three separate light fixtures which can be expensive in the long run. This option saves energy and electricity costs because you have the ability to control and use only what you need. The market has caught on, and you see a range of affordable multi-functional lighting in one device at home depots, Ikea, and online stores.
5. Stick-on or plug-in lights
Peel off the backing and install the lights where you want them. If you have plug-ins, all you have to do is find a socket and turn on the device. It’s as easy as that. These handy devices are perfect if you’re the type to move things around a lot. You can place it anywhere in the kitchen without worrying about the wires as they can come off at any time. Install them under cupboards, inside drawers and shelves, or on kitchen counters. In addition, it is quite cheap as well. At $10 per three-pack, this is one useful device you can afford to stock up on.
6. LED tape lights and fixtures
A midnight snack will no longer mean bumps and bruises from bumping and fumbling in a poorly lit kitchen. Now there’s an affordable way to create ambient lighting without waking up your entire home. Very flexible, easy to install and safe, you can use this to light the corridors or as under cabinet lights. This range of light has cool hues compared to regular incandescents, perfect if you just need a gentle light.
While they may cost a little more than your traditional bulbs, LEDs give more value for money in the long run. When you think of the utility bills you will be saving with these, you will realize that you are getting more than what you paid for. An LED light can last seven years of “continuous service”, a bargain at a price of $25-$40.
7. A candle, one or lots of it
When you think of ambient lighting, why go to the extent of installing electrical wires when you can have candles light up the mood of the kitchen. One candle is perfect for quiet nights with just two people dining which is romantic and earth friendly. But if you want to impress the guests, install a chandelier tray and put many candles on it. It’s cheap but very dramatic, trust me.
If you are in the middle of a kitchen remodel, we recommend that you include lighting fixtures, not as an afterthought. Move up the priority grid. Because most lighting fixtures require a complex installation with all the necessary electrical wiring, it should be structured architecturally in the same way you think of your kitchen cabinets. Once you include kitchen lighting fixtures in the initial thought process, you’ll have more time and the chance to think about both its function and its contribution to the style of your kitchen. As the saying goes, “Light up my world” can set a whole new meaning for your kitchen.
Marie Christine Sing-Umali is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast who works for Kitchen Cabinet Kings, a leading online distributor of discount kitchen and bathroom cabinets nationwide. Kitchen Cabinet Kings offers RTA kitchen cabinets at reasonable prices. Request a free kitchen design service, discounts and find out more about financing options by visiting their website.