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Lighting: The Forgotten Element in Kitchen and Bath Design

| Amy Meade

Often in kitchen and bath designs lighting is often the last element that the designer inputs into the plan and often it is perfunctory at best. I would argue that lighting is now one of the more important elements in both kitchen design and bath design. Why? Vision depends on light and new research shows that light affects humans in more ways than ever thought.

Vision = Light, So Kitchen and Bath Design Lighting is Important for Two Reasons

  1. Design is about color and texture and placement. After spending time and money to get the colors just right, if the lighting is wrong, they will not look just right. The color of the light (kelvin) will affect the way our eyes see the color of our cabinets, tile, floors, everything.
  2. In the kitchen and in the bath, tasks are done that require the correct intensity of the light (lumens). I know I do not want to be chopping vegetables with my beloved Wusthoff knife in the semi-dark. This is especially true as we get older. Another annoying fact to those of us of a certain age, a 60-year-old can see 1/3 as well as a 20-year-old. This is because of the yellowing of the lens. The good news is that with the correct lighting this difference can be eliminated.

The eyes are not just for vision anymore. In 2001 researchers found that eyes have nonvisual photoreceptors called ipRGC’s (intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells) that assist with core biological functions through the circadian, endocrine, and neurobehavioral functions. We know these functions can affect our sleep and awake cycles, but they can also affect our metabolism, stress, reproduction, and blood pressure. As a matter of fact, there is a whole host of potential health hazards that comes with the incorrect amount and type of light. There are also health benefits. For example, if we get enough sunlight, students’ grades are better, recovery from disease is faster and we are more productive.

Kitchen and Bath Design Lighting Guidelines

Now that we know the importance of lighting what is the correct lighting design in our kitchens and baths and how do we go about getting it? Here are some guidelines:

  1. Always use dimmers.
  2. Use delivered foot candles (the amount of light falling onto a surface) which is a lighting measure that can be determined and there are guidelines for each area of the home. For example, countertop workspaces should have a foot candle (fc) measure of 50-100 while bathrooms can be 30-60 fc.
  3. Specify color temperature, kelvin (K) in each room. Different rooms have different color temperature needs or have more than one. For example, in the bathroom in the morning while getting ready for work you will want a higher bluer light signaling it is day and higher intensity to do such tasks as shaving and putting on makeup. At night, the bathroom should have a yellow lower intensity to signal relaxation and that it is close to bedtime. Some lighting companies offer lights that can change their color and intensity.
  4. Ensure that the fixtures and bulbs specified in your plan match the foot candles and kelvins required once they are installed.

Contact Teknika for Kitchen and Bath Design Lighting Ideas

Now that you know how important lighting is to kitchen and bath design, please do not let your plan ignore this important feature. To learn more, please contact Teknika Kitchens and Baths at 410-778-2036 or email us.