Undercounter lighting can help you boost productivity by illuminating your kitchen tasks. Photo courtesy of Kichler.
Eliminate Dark Shadows
When it comes to making a big impact with limited time, resources and budget—nothing beats a lighting upgrade. It's one home improvement area where a few minor additions can make a huge difference.
Brighten Up Your Spooky (Dark) Spaces
3 Tips for illuminating the often-forgotten areas of your home.
- by Trisha McBride Ferguson
Ask any home design expert what improvements make the most impact and you’re sure to hear “lighting.” Once you’ve addressed the primary (overhead, task and ambient) lighting needs in your home, you can focus on enhancing the brightness of secondary areas. Adding a little light to places such as closets, cabinets and coves will eliminate dark shadows and spooky spaces in your home.
Create Cabinet Drama
An easy way to add visual drama to your cabinets is to add undercabinet lighting. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), because of their very small size LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are perfect for lighting inside and under cabinets. LED strips are available as small as a half-inch wide and produce almost no heat. Fluorescents are an effective option for lighting under cabinets as well.
The beauty of undercabinet lighting is that it achieves results you can see immediately and provides multiple benefits that cannot be achieved with overhead lighting. For example, when you’re working at your kitchen counter with overhead lighting behind you, you’re often creating a shadow on your workspace. Undercabinet lighting alleviates this dilemma.
Regardless of your budget, there is likely an undercabinet lighting solution you can implement. Downlights are a great solution for highlighting the interior of glass-door cabinets. LED downlights add visual drama without excessive heat or UV rays. Overall, LEDs are a highly efficient form of lighting that produces great quality light that typically lasts longer than traditional bulbs.
Photo courtesy of Juno Lighting Group, American Lighting Assoc.
Illuminate Your Closet
Why risk getting caught at the office wearing one navy sock and one black one when the solution is as easy properly lighting your closet. Incandescent light does a poor job differentiating between these very similar colors and it's extremely hot, reports the ALA. That’s why compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are now frequently replacing incandescent and halogen lighting in closets.
They key to using CFLs for lighting a closet is to select a bulb with the right color temperature and rendering. The ALA recommends buying 3500K color temperature lamps, which are very neutral and provide excellent color rendering across the color spectrum.
Another popular choice for closet lighting are LED lights. If you have a shallow closet, you may want to put a linear LED above the door—it will offer broad and even light distribution. If you have a larger closet, consider a surface-mounted or close-to-ceiling fixture using CFLs or LEDs.
Photo courtesy of Sea Gull Lighting Products, American Lighting Assoc.
Create Interest with Light
If you’re looking to give your room visual interest and an upscale feel, look to your lighting, suggests the ALA. Toekick and cove lighting can imbue a room with a more upscale appearance. And in a smaller room—such as a kitchen—this kind of lighting gives the illusion of more space.
According to the ALA, the best choices for toekick and cove light sources are fluorescent, xenon and LED—because they are more energy efficient and incur less maintenance than incandescent. Yet as with most lighting choices, placement is key. Keep in mind that it’s usually most effective to put your light source as far away from the wall as possible to ensure the most even illumination.
Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics Company, American Lighting Assoc.