Lighting is an incredibly important aspect of kitchen design, especially as we age. The right lighting can make a kitchen much safer and more functional for older adults. It can also create a warm, inviting atmosphere perfect for entertaining and spending quality time with loved ones.
When lighting a kitchen for older eyes and better beauty, there are several key factors to consider:
As we get older, we need brighter light to see well. Aim for a minimum of 500 lux, or about 50 footcandles. Under-counter lighting, pendant lights, and recessed ceiling lights can all help increase task lighting over key kitchen zones.
Glare from shiny surfaces can be challenging for aging eyes. Choose matte finishes for countertops and cabinets. Install dimmers so light levels can be adjusted. Use diffusers on light fixtures to soften glare. Strategically place lights to avoid reflections.
Look for lighting between 2700K-3000K to provide warm, flattering light. Avoid cool, blue-toned lights over 5000K that can make skin appear dull and wrinkles more pronounced.
Combine several types of lighting for flexibility. Ambient lighting such as recessed ceiling lights provide overall illumination. Task lighting like under-cabinet lights target work areas. Accent lighting illuminates architectural details.
Hands-free sensor lights can make nighttime trips to the kitchen safer by turning on automatically when motion is detected.
Smart bulbs allow lighting to be controlled remotely via smartphone, tablet, or voice assistant. Set schedules, dim, change color, and turn lights on/off from anywhere for convenience.
Important Kitchen Zones to Light
When lighting a kitchen for older eyes and better beauty, be sure to illuminate these key zones:
Countertops are the main work area in a kitchen. Use LED strip lighting or puck lights under upper cabinets to directly light countertops and reduce shadows. Light countertops to at least 500 lux.
Properly lighting the sink reduces eyestrain and makes tasks like washing dishes safer. Consider pendant lights or recessed lighting directly over the sink.
Make sure cooking areas are brightly lit to prevent burns or spills. For best visibility, lighting for cooking surfaces should be 500-1,000 lux.
Kitchen islands double as extra prep space and casual dining areas. Use pendant or recessed lights over islands for task lighting and ambiance.
Create a relaxing vibe in the dining area with a hanging chandelier or ceiling fixture. Wall sconces also work well for dining room lighting.
Install battery-operated or hardwired cabinet lighting so contents are visible. Flexible LED strip lights work perfectly inside cabinets.
Best Lighting for Kitchen Counters
The kitchen countertop is arguably the most important surface to light properly. Here are some of the best options for countertop lighting:
LED Strip Lights
LED strip lights, also called tape lights, can be installed directly underneath wall-mounted cabinets. This positions the light source close to the counter for optimal illumination. LED strips come in a wide range of lumen output, color temperatures, and lengths.
Puck lights, or undercabinet lights, provide targeted illumination for countertops, backsplashes, and work areas. Hardwired and battery-powered options are available. Pucks lights feature built-in LEDs and are easily installed with mounting brackets or adhesive.
Recessed Ceiling Lights
Recessed downlights, also called can lights, provide ambient lighting from the ceiling. Spacing recessed lights every 3-4 feet above counters creates even illumination without shadows. Mini recessed lights have a lower profile perfect for kitchens.
Stylish pendant lights suspended over counters or islands provide direct, adjustable task lighting. Use dimmable pendants to control brightness. Position the bottom of pendants 30-34 inches above the counter.
Built-In LED Strips
Many modern cabinets, island units, and range hoods have built-in LED lighting strips. This hidden lighting provides seamless illumination exactly where it’s needed most.
Lighting to Reduce Glare in Kitchens
Here are some tips for lighting a kitchen to minimize glare:
- Choose matte finishes for countertops and cabinets to prevent reflective surface glare. Marble, quartz, granite, concrete, tile, and matte laminates are good options.
- Install dimmers so light levels can be adjusted based on need and preference throughout the day. This also helps control glare.
- Use diffusers on recessed, pendant, and track lighting. Diffusers soften and spread the light to reduce glare and eye strain.
- Place overhead lighting at least 30 inches from the counter edge to minimize glare off the surface.
- Position task lighting at an angle rather than directly overhead. For example, install LED strips under cabinets at a 30-45 ̊ angle.
- Add window treatments. Blinds, shades, and drapes can reduce glare from sunlight streaming in through kitchen windows.
- Situate lighting to avoid reflections on polished surfaces like granite or stainless steel appliances.
- Choose matte or brushed metal finishes rather than shiny chrome or polished brass for light fixtures and hardware.
- Install an anti-glare film if needed on surfaces that cause problematic reflections even with adjusted lighting.
Best Light Bulbs & Fixtures for Kitchens
Here are some great lighting options for brightening up your kitchen:
LED bulbs last up to 25 times longer than incandescents while using a fraction of the energy. LEDs come in every shape and size for kitchen lighting, including recessed, track lighting, under cabinet, and more.
Recessed Ceiling Lights
Recessed downlight cans illuminate the entire kitchen. Mini cans have a lower profile perfect for kitchens. Choose dimmable, gimbal, or directional adjustments for flexibility.
Under Cabinet Lights
Hardwired or battery-powered puck, strip, and track lighting under cabinets provide task lighting for countertops and backsplashes.
Pendants work wonderfully over islands, counters, and sinks. Go for dimmable pendants with adjustable height and aim for the best positioning.
For a clean, contemporary look, install flush mount LED ceiling lights. This streamlined option works well over dining sets, kitchen tables, and islands.
Track lighting offers incredible adjustability to direct light right where it’s needed most. Use track heads over counters, islands, art, and dining areas.
Lighting Tips for Kitchen Islands
Kitchen islands serve many purposes, from prep space to casual dining. Here are some island lighting ideas:
- Use pendant lights in varying heights for visual interest. Position pendants 30-34 inches above the island surface.
- Look for pendants with dimmers so light can be adjusted for different island activities.
- Consider a chandelier over a large kitchen island instead of several pendants.
- Install recessed lighting around the perimeter of the island underneath the upper cabinets for ambient lighting.
- For a clean look, use flush mount or semi-flush ceiling lights over small, open islands.
- Try portable table or floor lamps around the island to create a relaxed vibe for dining.
- If the island houses cooktop or stove, make sure to illuminate it brightly with task lighting.
- For additional lighting, install switches underneath upper cabinets on either side of the island.
- Choose finishes like brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, or antique brass for island lighting fixtures to match kitchen hardware and appliances.
Best Lighting for a Kitchen Sink Area
Properly positioned lighting around the kitchen sink makes tasks like washing dishes safer and easier. Here are some great options:
- Install recessed ceiling lights directly over the sink area for ambient lighting. Mini recessed lights work well in small kitchens.
- Use pendant lights above the sink, positioned 34-40 inches above the counter, for task lighting.
- Consider sleek track lighting on either side of the sink, angled for illumination without glare.
- Mount gooseneck lamps to the wall or under cabinets on either side of the sink to provide adjustable task lighting.
- Use puck lights or LED strip lights under wall-mounted cabinets surrounding the sink.
- Add a dimmer switch to control brightness as needed for various tasks and times of day.
- Install a lighted mirror or medicine cabinet with built-in lighting above the kitchen sink.
- For a finished look, choose sink lighting fixtures like pendants and sconces that coordinate with the faucet and hardware.
Cooking Surface Lighting Tips
Proper lighting over cooking areas helps prevent spills, burns, and other accidents. Follow these tips:
- Use recessed ceiling lights around the perimeter of the range or cooktop. Mini recessed lights work well due to their smaller size.
- Install pendant lights over cooking surfaces to provide bright, adjustable task lighting.
- Make sure lighting over cooking areas provides between 500-1000+ lux, or 50-100+ footcandles.
- Incorporate dimmers so lighting can be adjusted as needed for various cooking tasks.
- For island stove tops, consider installing LED strip lights or puck lights under the island’s upper cabinets.
- If range hoods have built-in lights, make sure they provide adequate illumination over the cooking surface.
- Avoid shining lights directly into cooks’ eyes or positioning lighting where shadows are cast over the cooking area.
- Place overhead lighting at least 34 inches from the cooking surface to prevent glare and excessive heat on light fixtures.
Best Ambient Ceiling Lights for Kitchens
Recessed lights, flush mounts, and pendant lighting help provide ambient illumination throughout the kitchen:
Recessed Ceiling Lights
Recessed downlight cans, or can lights, are the most popular option for evenly lighting the entire kitchen. Space 4-6 inch recessed lights about every 3-4 feet.
Flush Mount Lighting
Flush mounts offer a streamlined look perfect for contemporary kitchens. This unobtrusive option works well over islands and dining areas.
Semi-flush mounts provide ambient lighting similar to recessed, but in areas with limited space above the ceiling. Low-profile semi-flush lights have an ultra-trim look.
Though often used as task lighting, mini pendant lights also provide ambient illumination when installed throughout the kitchen ceiling at regular intervals.
Chandeliers & Linear Pendants
For dramatic ambient lighting, install a statement-making chandelier or modern linear pendant fixture over kitchen islands and dining areas.
Best Lighting for Kitchen Cabinets
It’s important to light the interiors of kitchen cabinets so items are visible. Here are some great options:
Battery-Powered LED Lights
Self-contained LED puck lights affix to the top interior cabinet frame. They run on batteries and turn on when the door opens via a motion sensor.
Hardwired LED Strip Lights
For a seamless look, install low-profile LED tape lighting to the top interior edge of cabinets. The strips are hardwired to a switch or controlled remotely.
Built-In Cabinet Lighting
Many modern cabinets have integrated lighting strips or puck lights built right into certain models for convenience and style.
While under cabinet lights primarily illuminate countertops, the splash of light also helps to see inside wall-mounted cabinets overhead.
Inside Drawer Lighting
Battery-operated removable LED lights are available specifically sized to adhere inside drawers, providing illumination when opened.
Best Lighting for Kitchen Dining Areas
Lighting kitchen dining areas enhances ambiance and functionality:
Pendants work well over both kitchen islands for casual dining and formal dining tables. Go for dimmable pendants to control the mood.
For formal dining areas, a stunning chandelier really sets the scene. Go bold or minimalist depending on your kitchen’s style.
Spacing recessed ceiling lights evenly over the dining area provides ambient illumination for family meals.
Wall sconces flanking a dining hutch or table provide pretty task lighting. Go for adjustable sconces to direct light where needed.
Picture lights highlight artwork in dining areas. Position above eye level and use LED picture lights to eliminate glare.
Table lamps provide cozy ambient and task lighting for dining areas in kitchens. Opt for smart lamps to control with your phone.
Smart & Automated Kitchen Lighting Options
Smart lighting makes it easy to control kitchen lights from anywhere and automate them for convenience:
- Smart light bulbs that connect to phone apps via WiFi and Bluetooth, such as Philips Hue bulbs, allow remote on/off and dimming capabilities from your smart devices.
- Smart switches replace regular light switches and work with smart bulbs, letting you program lighting schedules, scenes, etc.
- Motion sensors trigger lights when motion is detected, great for nighttime safety and hands-free operation in pantries, under cabinets, and in hallways.
- Natural daylight sensors automatically adjust light output based on the available sunlight coming into the kitchen.
- Timer switches turn lights on/off at preset times, perfect for automating lighting when you’re away from home.
- Connect switches, bulbs, motion sensors, etc. to an Alexa, Google Home, or SmartThings hub for voice activated lighting control.
- Smart plugs make it easy to add connected functionality to ordinary lights, fans, and fixtures with on/off scheduling, auto on at dusk, and voice control.
Lighting Ideas for Small Kitchens
Maximize natural light and choose compact fixtures to make the most of small kitchen lighting:
- Install recessed or semi-flush ceiling lights which take up no floor space.
- Swap out bulky light fixture shades for sleek lamp shades or glass for a lighter look.
- Use mirrors and mirrored backsplashes to reflect and amplify natural light from windows and fixtures.
- Opt for smaller-sized pendant lights, sconces, and under cabinet lighting appropriate for compact kitchens.
- Look for multi-functional lighting like kitchen island pendants that double as task and ambient lighting.
- Paint the kitchen interior walls and ceiling a light color to prevent light absorption and brighten up the space.
- Reduce wall-mounted upper cabinets to allow more natural light from windows to penetrate interior spaces.
- Add lighting in stairways, hallways, and entry spaces leading to the kitchen to transition from darker to lighter spaces.
Energy-Efficient Kitchen Lighting
There are many ways to light up your kitchen using energy-efficient lighting best practices:
- Swap all traditional incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs which use at least 75% less energy and last 25x longer.
- Install occupancy sensors, timers, or smart switches for automatically turning lights on/off when not needed, preventing waste.
- Use compact fluorescent CFLs, efficient halogen incandescents, or LEDs for recessed can lighting which stays on for many hours per day.
- Look for ENERGY STAR rated ceiling fans, under cabinet lights, and other kitchen lighting fixtures which meet strict energy efficiency criteria.
- Choose Energy Star lighting fixtures like flush mounts, pendants, and sconces which distribute light evenly and maximize efficiency.
- Group task lighting over specific zones such as islands and counters instead of lighting the entire kitchen ceiling unnecessarily.
- Maximize use of natural daylighting through proper window placement and sizes as well as skylights and sun tunnels.
- Install lighting controls like dimmers, vacancy sensors, and automatic daylight shutoff to reduce lighting when possible.
- Replace old magnetic ballasts in fluorescent tube lighting with more efficient solid-state electronic ballasts.
Kitchen Lighting Maintenance Tips
To keep your kitchen lighting performing its best:
- Dust light bulbs and fixtures regularly to maintain light output. Dirt buildup can reduce illumination.
- Clean out diffusers, glass shades, and lampshades every few months to remove dust and bugs that can block lighting.
- Use the manufacturer’s recommended wattage bulbs. Higher wattage bulbs produce more heat and can damage fixtures.
- Check for burned out bulbs and replace immediately to maintain even lighting. Make sure new bulbs match the color temperature.
- Consider having a licensed electrician check older kitchen wiring every 10 years or after any electrical issues arise with lighting circuits. This ensures safety and efficiency.
- Test the kitchen lighting circuit breaker at least once a year by flipping it on and off to help prevent tripping issues.
- Check for any loose light bulb sockets, pendant cords, housing screws, junction boxes, or electrical connections that may need tightening by a professional electrician.
- Ensure junction box covers and light switch and outlet wall plates are secure with no visible openings or gaps to prevent electrocution risk and air leaks.
FAQs About Kitchen Lighting for Older Eyes and Beauty
What is the best color temperature for kitchen lighting?
For kitchen lighting, opt for soft white light in the range of 2700K-3000K color temperatures which provides a warm, inviting ambiance perfect for evenings and socializing while still allowing accurate food prep during the daytime. Avoid cool 5000K+ lighting which can make older skin appear washed out and age lines more prominent.
How bright should kitchen lighting be?
Key kitchen surfaces like counters, islands, cooking areas, and sinks should be illuminated to at least 500 lux, or 50 footcandles, for optimal visibility and safety, especially for aging eyes. Ambient ceiling lighting should provide 300-400 lux.
How do you reduce glare in the kitchen?
Glare can be minimized with strategies like choosing fixtures with diffusers that soften light distribution, installing dimmers to control brightness as needed, positioning task lighting properly to avoid reflections, adding window treatments, and opting for matte finishes on cabinets, count