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Bring your kitchen out of the dark

Posted by By at 14 October, at 22 : 59 PM Print

http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2011/10/13/17/01/1l9yVV.Em.138.jpgLighting is often described as the jewelry of the home. But it’s more critical than that, especially in kitchens, where it’s all about slicing, dicing and reading recipes.

“Kitchen lighting is so crucial and should be one of the first things people think about when they’re designing or remodeling a kitchen, but it often gets last priority,” says lighting consultant and interior designer Lisa Duncan of Kansas City, Mo. “People spend tens of thousands of dollars on their kitchens, but then you can’t see the new improvements or what you’re doing if the lighting isn’t right. Then I come along, and drywall has to be ripped out.”

Instead of doing an overhaul of her decades-old kitchen, Sasha Paulsen of Overland Park, Kan., updated the lighting in her favorite room, including adding under-cabinet lights.

“It’s changed my whole cooking and dining experience,” says Paulsen. Not only do under-cabinet fixtures provide proper task lighting, they add pleasant ambience for home entertaining.

“Adding under-cabinet lighting is the No. 1 thing you could do if you want to update your kitchen and make it more functional,” says designer Billie Deatherage.

Deatherage always includes dimmer switches in her plans.

“They are inexpensive and can give you the control to make your kitchen go from production mode to entertainment mode quickly. And they save energy.”

Paulsen loves the difference a dimmer switch makes in her kitchen. But one of the challenges with kitchen lighting is that it adds heat. Lighting consultant George McMillen sees the problem all the time.

“People will remodel their kitchen and love it in the fall and winter, but then spring and summer comes and suddenly, it’s too hot,” McMillen says.

So McMillen is using more LEDs (light-emitting diodes) – particularly under-cabinet lights versus xenon and especially halogen because LEDs produce less heat, and they’re more energy-efficient.

You can find a CFL or LED that will give you the brightness and light quality you like while saving you around $50 over the life of each CFL and $65 to $400 over the lifetime of each LED, according to Consumer Reports.

“The challenge with LED is the color – it can look too warm or too cool,” he says. “But the technology is getting there.”

Designers and lighting consultants are steering away from the matching pendants above an island.

“They’re almost like a gate,” Allen says. “You want to move them out of the way so you can see what’s happening in the kitchen.”

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