If you have an unremodeled kitchen from the 50s or 60s, chances are it’s lit by one ceiling-mounted fixture. This, experts observe, is a good example of how not to light a kitchen. A centralized light is likely to cast shadows in the wrong places – like over the sink – or create a glare that overwhelms the kitchen’s design. To avoid casting too much light in one place and not enough in another, when doing a kitchen remodeling project think of lighting in “layers” – with different kinds of light in different locations.


Natural Light – Not only will natural light save you electricity and money, but studies have shown that people exposed to more natural light tend to be happier and work more efficiently. If you’re doing a kitchen remodeling project, think about where the windows are and how big they should be. Natural light shouldn’t be an afterthought.


Task Lighting – So called because it provides the light you need to wash dishes or frost the cake. Task lighting usually comes between the kitchen user’s head and the counter or work surface. For this reason, the bottom of cabinets is a good place to put task lighting, but mount these lights close to the back of the cabinet’s underside to avoid creating glare on the counters. If you’re installing task lighting on the ceiling, think about putting in lights that are adjustable, so the cook can change the position if necessary. Pendant lamps work well over islands or eating areas, but these are more visible than other varieties of lighting, so make sure they match the room.


Ambient Lighting – This soft, indirect light creates the room’s overall illumination. A good place for ambient light is at the top of cabinets where it can bounce off the ceiling and create a welcoming, diffuse glow. You can control the room’s mood by putting these lights on a dimmer switch.


Joaquin Erazo, Jr. is the senior vice president of marketing and public relations at Case Design/Remodeling, Inc. Find a home remodeling company near you or read our home remodeling tips blog.