If the kitchen is the heart of a home, then the countertops are the rhythm to which it beats. If you have recently renovated your kitchen or are planning to renovate soon, you have probably spent a lot of time picking out the perfect countertops. Perhaps you even designed the entire room around the countertop colors.
Many homeowners underestimate the impact that lighting can have on a room. Light can change the way counters and paint colors look, so getting it right is essential to getting the most out of your new kitchen countertops and backsplash.
When you plan your lighting, it’s helpful to think of it in the following layers:
Also called ambient lighting, these are usually the overhead lights that you turn on when you walk into a room.
These are the lights that highlight specific features of a room. They can be recessed lights, track lights, or downlight pendants.
These are the lights you turn on to do detailed tasks like reading or cooking. The source can be anything from a lamp to under cabinet lights.
Whether you have granite, quartz, or laminate, make sure you install multiple layers of light to bring out the colors and textures of your new counters. If your countertops are exceptionally glossy, you can reduce glare by installing fixtures and bulbs with diffusers to soften the light.
Recessed lights are an excellent option for kitchens because they are directional and can point toward essential workspaces.
How Many Recessed Lights Does My Kitchen Need?
There are many factors to consider when planning the layout of recessed lights. How large is the room? How tall are the ceilings? How many workspaces are in the room? Is your décor light or dark?
Larger rooms and those with taller ceilings will require more lights than small kitchens with eight-foot ceilings. If you have a grand kitchen with two sinks, a double oven, and two islands, you’ll need more task lights to illuminate each work area.
In general, lighter colors reflect light and darker colors absorb it. If you have light-colored quartz countertops, for example, you will not need as many lights to bring out the detail in the stone. If you have a dark granite countertop, you will want plenty of overhead light to bring out the textures and accent colors. If the room is too dim, all of those beautiful features of the stone will seem to disappear.
There is no hard and fast rule about how many lights you need; it varies a great deal based on your room’s features. A good rule of thumb is to over-light a space and install dimmer switches so you can tailor the light based on your activities and the amount of natural light coming through the windows.
Planning the layout for your lighting can be intimidating. You want to make sure you have enough lights, but not so many that your dimmer switches are always on low. Having a professional come into your kitchen to assess its lighting needs can reduce a lot of stress for homeowners.
How Much Space Should Be Between Each Light?
Each room is unique, so contractors use a few different methods to determine the distance between recessed lights.
You might begin by dividing the height of the room by two. For example, if you have eight-foot ceilings, you will want your recessed lights spaced four feet apart.
You could also calculate the total lighting wattage that you need for the room. Figure out the total square footage of the room (length x width), then multiply by 1.5 to get your total wattage. Then divide that number by the wattage of the bulbs you are going to install, and voila...you have your total number of bulbs.
After all of the math, you still need to consider the natural light, the color of your countertops, and whether the recessed lights will be your general lighting layer, task lighting, accent lighting, or some combination of the three. And then you have to figure out where to actually place each bulb.
Having too many lights or too few can obscure the beautiful design and sparkle of your countertops. Consult with an experienced professional to ensure that you get the perfect number of lights placed in the ideal locations so that they bring out the best features of your new countertops.
Under Cabinet Lighting
Overhead lights, even if they’re directional, don’t always provide enough light to eliminate the shadows cast by your cabinets. Small recessed lights or strip lights are ideal for mounting underneath cabinets to make food prep easier. If your countertop and wall colors are similar, under cabinet lighting will help accentuate what little contrast there is between the two.
If your countertop is especially shiny, you may want to angle the light to reduce glare. A professional can help you determine whether you should aim the lights downward at your counter or toward your backsplash. As a bonus, the lights will function as accent lighting to show off your beautiful new backsplash.
Using Light Bulb Temperature to Enhance Countertops
Brighter light will help show off your countertops, but only if it’s the right color temperature. If you have a warm, brown granite and you use bright, cool temperature bulbs, you will wash out the rich brown tones of your countertop. Instead, pair earthy tones like reds, browns, yellows, and golds with warm bulbs in the 2700 – 3500 Kelvin range.
If you have light grey countertops or black countertops with light-colored flecks, warm bulbs will give the stone a sickly hue. Instead, pair light, bright countertops with cool bulbs in the 3500 – 5000 Kelvin range. If your countertop has both cool and light tones, a professional can help determine which light bulbs will bring out the best features of your stone.
Use Light to Bring Out the Best in Your Countertops and Backsplash
Adding adequate light in the right places and at the right temperature is key to making your kitchen look great. Simple tricks like using fixtures with diffusers or aiming directional lights toward the backsplash will reduce glare and perfect the look of your new countertops and backsplash.