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Kitchen Lighting – Project #3


The previous 2 kitchens used upscale lighting including recessed cans, cove lighting and custom fixtures.  The budget for lighting fixtures alone for each of those projects was in excess of $5,000.  The labor budget might have doubled that figure.   Of course, you can also get good work, ambient and accent lighting for a much more modest budget.  For this project, the lighting costs were about one-tenth the cost of the first 2 projects – total fixture costs were less than $500 and probably about the same for labor.

Kitchen Lighting on a Budget

Fluorescent Ceiling & Undercab Lighting

Just like the previous 2 projects, daylighting provides the primary source of ambient light during daylight hours.  Substantial daylight was created with an open floor plan and opening the dining room and living room to the outdoors with French doors.  This kitchen receives daylight from 3 sides – creating a well-lit and inviting space.  A surface-mounted fluorescent ceiling fixture provides abundant, even ambient lighting during storms and at night.  Fluorescent undercabinet lights provide good task lighting.  Finally, a 3-lamp pendant light hanging over the dining room table provides both ambient and accent lighting – a dimmer allows for bright or mood lighting as desired.

Dining Pendant Light

Dimmable Dining Pendant Light

Kitchen Lighting

Lighting Helps Integrate Dining Room & Kitchen

Read about other Kitchen Lighting projects:

-    Kitchen Lighting – Project #1
-    Kitchen Lighting – Project #2

Part of the great news about the Green Building trend is the rapid expansion of attractive, functional fluorescent and LED fixtures.  If this project were being done today instead of 2 years ago, the availability of attractive ceiling mounted fluorescent fixtures would be greatly increased.  In a project I’m working on currently, less attractive fluorescent tubes are held close to the ceiling while a translucent screen of Lucite  – framed in steel – is hung below them acting as a giant diffuser.  The cost is just slightly above what you would pay for a ceiling mount fluorescent fixture while the look is quite high-end and the lighting quality is terrific!

A final note about fluorescent fixtures – I always spec fixtures with electronic ballasts for my clients.  These fixtures don’t have any of the flicker, noise or delay that we associate with older fluorescent fixtures.  I also usually get lamps with a color rendering of 2700 to 3000 which most closely approximate the color of the incandescent bulb that we’re used to.  It’s almost impossible to distinguish today’s fluorescent fixtures and lamps with these features from incandescent fixtures.  The only area where fluorescents still lag is in dimming.  If you purchase dimmable fluorescent bulbs, following these rules:

1.    Use a dimmer manufactured after 1995
2.    Use a dimmer with a maximum load of 600 watts
3.    Use mechanical dimmers rather than solid state electronic dimmers with digital fade, touch or remote capabilities
4.    Use the same type of bulb (manufacturer, wattage, etc on the same dimmer)
5.    Use a one hour “burn-in” time at full at full brightness before trying to dim the bulbs; Each subsequent time start on full brightness and wait 1-2 minutes before dimming.

With the speed of technology advance, I hope that these cautions will be antiquated within a short time.

All images courtesy of Braitman Design/Build.


About the Author


I'm the owner and principal of Braitman Design/Build. We remodel older homes within the urban and close-in suburban areas of Washington, DC. In addition to our full service Design/Build Practice We welcome small design projects and small home improvement projects. And consult with homeowners across the country who want to design and manage the remodeling process themselves. Finally, my work is informed by my experience as an exhibiting sculptor and designer. I truly work at the intersection of art, architecture and design. Please see for yourself the extraordinary result when architecture, design and art are seamless parts of the whole. Please also visit my sculpture website: www.jackiebraitman.com

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