Lighting your kitchen and family room
Having been required to spend time at home over the past 9-10 months due to Covid19, an area where many homeowners will have spent much of that time and one which I am sure they consider as being the focal point within the home. This space is no longer just a room for food preparation and cooking, rather it becomes a space used by the whole family for interaction and conversation.
Good natural lighting is a great benefit and will also reduce the operating times of artificial lighting. Before planning a lighting solution, consider the geographical direction of the space, as south facing tends to benefit from daylight for the majority of the day whilst east facing gains low altitude light in the morning, with west facing gaining the warmest sunlight light later in the day into the sunset and north facing gets a harsh cold light with little or no direct natural light.
A kitchen designed lighting solution should provide a combination of ambient, accent and task lighting which can be operated and controlled through an appropriate smart lighting control system, such as OCTO which offers the flexibility of creating different lighting scenes throughout the day and evening.
Ambient lighting within the kitchen can be provided using ceiling recessed LED Downlights in that they can offer a good overall level of illumination with acceptable levels of uniformity for access and movement within the kitchen. An ideal solution would be the Prism Pro range of LED Fire Rated Downlights and Gimbal Downlights, offered in different colour temperature options and with a range of bezel options. This range is ideal for residential kitchens in being fully tested to meet the requirements of Building Regulations Parts B (Fire), C (Moisture) and E (Acoustic). Having a wide 60-degree beam width allows the fittings to be installed to create uniform illumination within the space. If there are expected issues in respect of glare, the installation of LED downlights with a baffle option provides the perfect solution.
Accent lighting can focus illumination on the most used areas within the space such as the kitchen sink and cooker as well as the breakfast bar and/or central island if installed. Ideal solutions for breakfast bars and central islands include using LED pendant fittings which can be functional whilst also being decorative. Alternative and/or additional lighting can be to install a track system, as it offers the flexibility to direct light where it is required as well as the opportunity to amend the position and orientation of fittings as needs arise. The designer, installer and homeowner should consider orientation and inclination of fittings so as not to cause issues with unwanted brightness or direct glare into the eyes of the homeowner. Track mounted fitting locations should be positioned carefully so as not prevent the opening of wall mounted cabinet doors.
Task lighting is a most effective way for the lighting to provide illumination on the perimeter work tops and inside the cabinets and is generally either in the form of LED linklights, of various lengths and wattages which can be easily connected using pre-wired leads, by installing individual LED cabinet lights equally spaced giving either a downward or angled light pattern, where the lighting levels can be determined by the quantity of lights installed, or alternatively with the installation of LED Strip, which is small in profile and installed hidden from the direct view of the homeowner. The flexibility of installing LED Strip allows for the lighting to be matched to the dimensions of the lengths of required light and is available in both 12V & 24V options with a performance of 7.2W/mtr and 14.4W/mtr in Warmwhite, Coolwhite and RGB variants, all of which can be controlled through the OCTO system. With all these forms of task lighting being mounted on the underside of the wall units they are all able to provide focused and uniform levels of illumination without unwanted shadows or glare where it is most needed.
Many modern kitchen designs are installed using highly reflective worktop surfaces, such as polished granite or marble and for these installations, the LED Strip lighting equipment can be placed within an aluminium profile and fitted with an opal diffuser so as to reduce the reflection of the individual LED’s in the polished worktop, which could have caused an issue with unwanted brightness or glare.
The change in residential home design and in the refurbishment of current properties has in many cases, resulted in a move to open plan construction of a combined kitchen and family room space, where homeowners will probably spend most of their time whilst at home. This open plan kitchen/family room becomes a multi-purpose, multi-functional space in providing, in addition to cooking and dining facilities, the main room for family interaction, entertaining, relaxation and watching television. It can also be a working space for those who do not have access to a home office and for school homework and educational study.
The ambient lighting for this family area can be the same as that of the kitchen, in that a recessed lighting installation offers a good level of illumination across the whole area, whilst allowing for the addition of accent and task lighting within the space. It is important to consider the ambient light for each area individually in order to provide adequate illumination, however any lighting should provide a cohesive solution for the whole space. The installation can use the same downlight however fitting different bezels may provide the opportunity to provide a visible division between the two spaces whilst still maintaining continuity of design.
Accent lighting for the family area can be to illuminate features such as display cabinets and bookcases as well as wall mounted artwork and can include the installation of recessed gimbal downlights or surface mounted spotlights.
Task lighting for the kitchen area has been discussed previously, but for the family room area can include the installation of LED pendant fittings over the dining table which can be both functional and decorative. Other task lighting can be either floor mounted lamps and/or floor reading lamps which have the simple flexibility of being positioned where required and can be supplemented with table lamps positioned strategically within the space. These fittings can benefit from control through the installation of OCTO Bluetooth enabled smart lamps.
Once completed, look at the design and ask yourself; will the fittings work in their specified area and within the space as a whole; and will they allow a seamless transition between the separate parts of the space?
Remember that less is more, you are providing a lighting installation for a residential home, not for a car showroom and finally, does the lighting solution help the homeowner achieve their aspirations for enjoying their home?
If so, then the design has achieved its goal.
All fixed lighting should be installed by a qualified or approved electrical contractor so that it meets the current IEE Wiring Regulations. Many lighting luminaires can become hot when they are in use, so equipment must not be fixed onto, or adjacent to, flammable surfaces.