Today’s kitchens are expected to multitask, much like their owners.

/ by Leigh Savage

It’s the room where friends gather, kids congregate and families catch up. Much more than the place where food is prepared, today’s kitchens often need a range of lighting options to suit many purposes.

“You want something lovely, but how does it help you?” said Mark Pollard, who is a professional chef as well as a showroom consultant at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery. “You want it to enhance your kitchen experience.”

A kitchen lighting upgrade can be a simple and cost-effective way to boost your home’s value and a small investment that can pay off in both form and function. According to Pollard, more clients are looking for a mix of lighting types, such as pendant lights over the island, recessed can lights for tasks requiring brightness and undercabinet lights when more subdued lighting suits the occasion.

By approaching the kitchen with layers of light, clients can customize to suit the time of day, their task and even their mood. Over-cabinet lighting can make ceilings appear taller and undercounter lights continue to surge in popularity. Pollard installed his own undercounter lights for when he needs to see his counters but doesn’t want bright overhead light. “It gives you more of an ambiance,” he says, “a little atmosphere.”

Once the mix of lighting is selected, the aesthetic decisions are personal. “Lighting can be a very emotional purchase,” he says; hammered nickel and vintage brass are trending at his showroom as well as mixing metals and finishes, which is becoming more and more common.

He continues to cull requests for ceiling fans in the kitchen, though instead of fans with lights attached, they are more frequently stand-alone fans used in concert with recessed lighting. Open lighting is another trend that can really work in a kitchen environment. It’s a twist on pendants that often hang over tables or islands; instead of a shade directing the light downard, an open pendant has an exposed bulb making a kitchen appear bigger by dispersing the light in all directions.

It’s best to use new lighting fittings in a kitchen (a place where heat, fire and grease are prevalent) and today even if bulbs or fixtures look old, they tend to employ clever technology. No matter what type of light a customer chooses, Pollard recommends LED bulbs. “They last longer, they look bright yet warm, they don’t heat up so they keep the kitchen cool and they use very little energy,” he says. “They might last 50,000 hours, which could be 20 years.”
How very illuminating.