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17 September 2014
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Kitchen schemes

For most of us, the kitchen is the room where we spend the most time, preparing food, eating and entertaining. Proper lighting can help make it safe, hygienic and enjoyable. Even if you only pop in to use the microwave, you'll need to be able to see the timer.

A central pendant light gives a good general lighting, but if that's all you have you'll be forever working in your own shadow and cooking will be a headache - literally. Whatever the shape or size of your kitchen, the light should come from behind or to the side of where you're working - not in front. You also need a high level of task lighting at the sink, the cooker, the fridge and worktops, especially for chopping vegetables.

Kitchen by day

Kitchen light should be a similar to true daylight so you can see when food is cooked or off. Don't plug lights into sockets that are overloaded with appliances such as toasters and food processors. And don't put lights in places where they could dazzle you while you're carrying boiling water or sharp implements.

Kitchen by night

If you're buying a new kitchen, you'll find that most modern ones come with built-in lights, or you can mix and match pieces from the kitchen supplier. Items like cooker hoods come with in-built illumination. Cupboards can have built-in lights that are triggered when the door's opened.

Try this

  • If you have a central pendant light but want to illuminate a different area, put it on a longer cord then put a small hook into the ceiling above where you need the light and clip it over. This works particularly well over tables.
  • Replacing your central pendant light with two (or more) ceiling-mounted fittings set wide apart will allow the light to flow much more evenly to either side.
  • Buy an inexpensive clip light and clamp it on where you need extra task light.
  • Put mini fluorescent lights underneath wall units. They spread a good level of light over work surfaces. Choose an 8 watt bulb in warm white.
  • Paint the kitchen ceiling matt white and keep the walls above the units a pale colour.
  • Choose a light coloured kitchen, such as birch or pale laminate.
  • If your sink is at the window, fit a light in the window's pelmet.
  • Fit a track system with directional lights you can position over the work surface and the sink. This will mean you won't need to do any rewiring.
  • Install strips against the wall above wall-mounted units - they'll throw light upwards to give an all-round glow (this only works with a white ceiling).
  • Fit rows of downlighters into the ceiling - they emit light exactly where it is needed and give good colour rendition. Also, because they're recessed, they're shielded from grease and dirt. Don't worry about spacing them out evenly intervals or lining them up exactly - if you do, it can look like an airport runway. Concentrate on where you need the light to fall rather than their position on the ceiling.

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