April 7, 2016

Out of the shadows, into the light

Akimbo-bold-vintage-bulbs-at-Ocean-Pacific-Lighting A well-lit kitchen is one that both functions well and makes you happy

BY LUCY HYSLOP

With kitchens often elevated to a home’s main focal point, great lighting is an essential part of what makes them sing.

After all, who wants glass cabinets if you can’t see which Jonathan Adler pieces are inside, or quartzite countertop corners cast into unwanted darkness by misplaced lights?

To perfect your lighting, design experts encourage homeowners to mentally map out exactly what they will be doing in each area of the workspace.

“Function should be a top priority as a well-lit kitchen will be a much more user-friendly space,” says Sarah Gallop, the Delta-based interior designer who scooped this year’s Best of Houzz award for design (she was also a finalist for three Georgie awards).

Marrying that kind of planning with the right type of fixture (from pot and puck lights to pendants) and their correct placement is essential. With a good mix of different fixtures for different functions, she says, “you can create a space that works well, no matter what is being done in it.”

Ensure each light has a separate control and possibly a dimmer, she adds, reflecting on the work her company (Sarah Gallop Design Inc.) has completed in Greater Vancouver, the U.S. and Asia. “This gives you lots of flexibility to control the lighting for different purposes; for example, a party versus prep requires different amounts of lighting,” she explains.

And certainly don’t shy away from using highly decorative fixtures such as chandeliers and crystal pendants to make bold statements. “This is a nice way to create elegance in a kitchen,” says Gallop. “These pieces act as the jewelry.”

Although it’s important to consider the light output when working with more decorative fixtures, she adds: “Sometimes they offer beauty but not a lot of function as far as usable light goes. Adding supplementary lighting — pot lights, for example — can fill in the gaps if properly placed.”

For Belinda Palmer at Surrey’s Ocean Pacific Lighting store, this type of lighting set-up creates “a layering effect” within the kitchen. From larger-scale pendants over an island to using vintage bulbs and gold LED fixtures, she thinks lighting should be considered with four things in mind: scale, function, style and budget.

“Trends keep it interesting. Think of it as fashion for your home,” Palmer says. As an example, she points to the vogue for under-cabinet lighting, something Gallop also sees as a “necessity” in any kitchen space.

“I’m partial to puck lighting instead of linear under-cabinet lighting as I think the contrast between the light and dark areas in a kitchen create drama and interest,” Palmer says.

Of course, all home decor decisions come down to personal preference. “Ultimately,” she says, “what matters most is creating a home that you’re happy to come home to.”

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