Thursday, November 20, 2014

7 Rules for Under Cabinet Lighting - from renovaton bootcamp by Robin Siegerman

7 Rules for Under Cabinet Lighting
Under cabinet lights keep the counters from being dark
No lighting under the cabinets makes the work surface gloomy
Did you know that poor lighting in a kitchen can cause you to have headaches, neck and shoulder problems and eye strain?  
Did you also know that poorly designed lighting in a kitchen can ruin the whole effect of your costly remodel?
Lighting your kitchen well can make the difference between a room that feels warm and inviting, where friends and family love to gather and linger vs one that feels gloomy and drab or clinical and sterile and makes meal preparation a chore and a depressing experience.
Here are 7 Rules for undercabinet lighting  for your kitchen!
Undercabinet lighting illuminates the work surface 
After the renovation, even undercabinet lighting


My pet peeve is when people refer to this as “undercounter” lighting.  It’s not mounted under the counter, it’s mounted under the wall cabinets to LIGHT UP your COUNTER, therefore it’s UNDER—–>>> CABINET lighting.

Because the tasks you perform often use sharp implements and blades that can lop off a digit or two, lighting up your work area is critical, but there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind so you can keep your thumb on your hand where it belongs:

1.   The lights should be mounted to the under side of the wall cabinet at the front NOT the back.  The idea is to light your work surface, not the back wall.  Since your wall cabinets are half the depth of your base cabinets, mounting your lights at the front of the cabinet will give you good lighting on the whole counter top, not just at the back.

2.   If you have chosen a highly reflective counter top material like polished black granite, it will look like a mirror when lit from above, bouncing terrible glare off the counter top back into your eyes.  So for this kind of situation, use an under cabinet fixture with a lens that’s frosted which will diffuse the lights so you don’t blind yourself and cut off a digit!

3.   Using individual puck lights for under-cabinet lighting is not the best solution unless you space them very close together so you don’t get “hot” spots under the light and dark spots between the fixtures.  This causes your pupils to constantly be dilating and focusing and can cause eyestrain and headaches.

4.   LED strip lighting will not be as bright as other types like halogen, xenon or fluorescent, so you might want to use two strips side-by-side. This will double your cost, but their life is so long, you’ll virtually never have to replace them, unless you leave them on 24/7. Even then, they should last for a good 15 years or more.

5.   Try to install the light switch that controls your under cabinet lighting in the same place as your general room lighting.  You’ll get aggravated very quickly if you have to run around your kitchen to hit the switches to control various light sources.

6.   Colour temperature of your under cabinet lighting is going to affect how the colours of your backsplash tile and counter top look. If the light is very cool (like a fluorescent with a lot of blue in the spectrum), warm colors like reds and oranges are going to look dead.  On the other hand, a cool light can make green or blue more vivid. Talk to someone who knows lighting before throwing in any old under cabinet lighting if you’ve got a backsplash or counter top you want to highlight.

7.   Unless your cabinets have a face-frame that creates a recessed cavity under your wall cabinets, be sure your kitchen designer specifies a light valance. This is a strip of cabinet-match material of about 2″ high that will hide the under cabinet lights from view so you won’t be hit in the eyes with glare when you sit at a kitchen table.

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