Define Your Space with Lighting Design: Open-Concept Kitchen-Living Rooms

June 14, 2016


Original Post: Define Your Space with Lighting Design: Open-Concept Kitchen-Living Rooms


It seems not too long ago that kitchen were primarily used for cooking and little else. One person (usually a woman), would be left alone in a claustrophobic kitchen to cook for hours under an ill-colored ceiling lamp while her family and friends mingled and boozed in the other room. The luckier woman might hire help to do all the cooking on an important night, or gather a few other women to assist in chopping or spooning out appetizers for the rest of the dinner party to enjoy. This method of hosting, apparently, is dying out with the construction of any new home, thanks to open-concept designs. 


In the 90's we saw an emergence of new homes where the kitchens were opening up to the rest of the living space. This was happily embraced by cooks everywhere, as they could now watch television from behind their counters, chopping and stirring without being completely isolated from family or friends.


Today's kitchens, however, have evolved into being the focal point of any new home-- the center of entertainment and relaxation. Instead of the kitchen opening to the living space, the kitchen has become the living space, encouraging family and friends to gather by the cook and nibble easily on freshly baked appetizers. One can now socialize in the kitchen without appearing anti-social. In fact, the cook of the house is now the most popular person in the house!


The open concept for kitchen-living room combos have introduced sophisticated approaches to defining space. The light in the kitchen needs to be bright enough to work by without disturbing the rest of the living space. Whether there are kids watching a movie on the big screen, or dinner guests sipping cocktails by the fire, the kitchen lighting shouldn't appear harsh in contrast to the rest of the space. Be sure to use the most appropriate correlated color temperature (CCT) for your space.


So how does one achieve this precious balance of workshop and lounge bar in one room? Since there aren't any walls between kitchen, dining, and living rooms, drop ceilings, pendant lighting, and well-placed recessed lighting should be utilized to create a transition from brighter areas to moodier ones. When purchasing bulbs, be sure to review the lumen output to determine how bright you want your lamp to be.


Start with task lighting-- decide where you'll need the brightest light and choose under cabinet lighting and pendants over the kitchen island before setting the ambient lighting and choosing accent lamps. Avoid lights that are either too dim or too glaring by determining the lux you need for your surfaces. Hang pendants approximately 40 inches above the island, or 30 inches over the table top, so they're not in the sight line of the average person standing or sitting in the space. Choose pendants that will either offer focalized task lighting, or diffused soft light, such as with hand-blown glass.


Under cabinet lighting is easier than ever with LED strip lights, but Euri LED linear lighting works as well. This method creates even more space in the kitchen, highlighting corners, backsplashes, and bringing enough light for prepping food. It also adds a welcoming layer to the ambiance of the room. Place your under-cabinet fixtures at the front of your cabinet, not at the wall, so the light will evenly distribute to your task space. If possible, add a dimmer to your under-cabinet lights, to add drama and depth, as well as save energy.


Stick to one statement pendant or chandelier for your space-- you don't want your lamps to compete with each other. A light box over the kitchen island can be a wonderful method for generalized task lighting, and it can be accented by smaller pendants over the dining room table, if a larger chandelier is defining the living room.


Recessed lights, such as Euri Lighting's LED recessed downlights, are great for keeping light consistent throughout the room, and there should be one for every 4-6 feet of ceiling space. This general lighting should be used for the walkways, prep areas, sinks and cook tops, leaving the pendants and chandelier to act as jewelry for your room. Combining your installed lighting with natural light, lit candles, wall sconces and table lamps creates a unique ambiance that keeps cave shadows off your walls.


Round out the lighting of your space with ambient lighting-- table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces, stylish chandeliers and spotlights will create mood, drama, and highlight your art pieces. 


Using dimmers and smart lighting systems to control your scene are excellent ways of adjusting your environment depending on its immediate use, and can help you further save money on energy costs. This can include making lighting adjustments on your smart phone whether you're home or not-- neighbors won't know the difference, and your home is more likely to stay secure.


Have concerns about which bulb is best for your open design? Send our sales reps an email, or give us a call-- we would be happy to help you choose the best lighting for your space!

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