STEP 13—LIGHTING AND ELECTRIFYING YOUR KITCHEN
Do you feel tired and run down at the end of a working session in your kitchen? Your symptoms could be caused by inadequate lighting. A room that is dingy or too glaring can not only affect your spirit, but also your performance. If you are chopping celery, adding spice to soup, or reading a recipe hovered over your own shadow, your eyes will become tired and your work efficiency will drop. The older you are, the worse it gets.
To check your kitchen for proper lighting, you will need to view it in both the daytime and after dark. In both cases, you need two kinds of illumination — general and task. General Lighting is derived from sources, natural and artificial, which illuminate the entire room. The light bounces uniformly off the ceiling, walls, and floors. If any surfaces are dark in color, more light will be needed than if the kitchen and cabinets are painted in white or pastel shades. If cabinets are stained, use a lighter finish if your lighting sources are minimal.
During the day, your kitchen should be filled with an even amount of natural light. No part of the room should be further away from the window or skylight than 1-1/2 times the distance between your floor and ceiling. You should be free from pronounced shadows. Studies show that light coming from more than one direction in a room is better, and from a skylight is ideal. If you are lacking in natural light, you will need to supplement using artificial sources.
At night, generally speaking, you will want 90 watts of fluorescent or 250 watts of incandescent lighting for each 120 square feet of kitchen (providing your surfaces are light in color). For a 10’ X 12’ kitchen, the equivalent of three 30 watt fluorescent tubes or one 250 watt light blub diffused by glass or plastic would be needed. Remember, the light is to bounce off surrounding surfaces as much as possible.
TASK LIGHTING, the next component, is very important, but is often overlooked by builders. Undoubtedly, you will need to make some additions in order to bring your kitchen up to par. The important points to remember are that the task light needs to fall directly on your work surface without shadow or glare. To be without shadow, the light must be in front of you. To avoid glare, the bare source cannot be in a direct line with your eyes. Any time lighting is used at eye level for tasks, a cover or shade is necessary to shield the direct rays. In addition, the task lighting should not be more than 5 times brighter than the surrounding area, which means you must have good-general lighting also.
Following are some guidelines for adequate artificial lighting in your kitchen. Use the information as a guide. Re-member, more light is needed if your walls and cabinets are dark.
Having a dimmer switch on a lighting source in an eating area is a nice touch to produce a candlelight glow. I personally like dimmer switches on my general-kitchen lighting, also, so that the overall feeling in the kitchen seems quieter when I am not preparing meals.
Fluorescent lighting is less expensive and cooler. The tubes last longer and save more energy. New technology has made improvements so the light of some bulbs is more flattering to food and skin tones. Fluorescent fixtures can be dimmed, but at more expense.
When selecting under cabinet lighting fixtures, if you have black-polished-granite countertops, avoid standard downlighting as you will get an annoying reflection of the light on the surface.
The lighting at your planning center should be from a source shielded and diffused about 15” above the surface. The desktop and adjacent walls should be light in color, like the paper you write on, so that there is no contrast between the surfaces, which otherwise would cause eye strain.
A trip to your local lighting dealer will give you endless ideas of how you can accomplish the task of lighting. Even you, without an electrician, can install swag lamps, fluorescent tubes, and even some track lighting, as long as there is an electrical outlet handy. Keep your decorating scheme in mind as you select fixtures. The lamps should be the right scale, texture, line, and color or finish to enhance your overall design. (See Step 14 for tips on decorating).
ELECTRICAL OUTLETS: For your kitchen to be efficient, you need a satisfactory number of electrical out-lets at the right locations. There is nothing worse than having the cord of your mixer stretched across your floured-bread board. The number of receptacles you need depends on how many electrical appliances you use at one time in each center. A general rule is that there should be one double outlet for every four feet of counter space. You may need more. Some solutions for too few outlets are this. If you have too many appliances for the same outlet, you may be able to add a power-outlet strip. The strips are attainable at your local hardware store. Be sure the unit has a built-in circuit breaker and sufficient amps to handle your load. To check the charge, add the total wattage of all the appliances you will plug into the unit, and divide this number by the voltage (usually 120v). Your answer will be the number of amps (amperes), and this should not be more than the number amps stated on the outlet strip. The same method can be used to check if you are overloading your house circuit. (Amps are stated on the circuit breakers at your fuse box). An electrician can also add receptacles at a given location by increasing the size of the wire to the outlet and adding a surface runway (outlets at regular intervals) or an electrostrip (outlets at any point along a strip). Whatever you do, keep the appliances as close to the source of power as possible.
Go to Worksheet 13 to check the electrical outlets and lighting in your own kitchen.
Choose Worksheet 13—Survey the Lighting and Electrical Outlets in my Kitchen.
Check out Lifestyle Systems complete line of drawer and shelf organizers for the home and office at www.lifestylessystems.com. If you want to be an active participant to change/plan your kitchen download the corresponding worksheet for the workshop by clicking on the worksheet below:
Worksheet 1 – Cooks Profile
Worksheet 2 – Draw Your Kitchen
Worksheet 3 – My Work Triangle
Worksheet 4 – Location Of My Work Centers
Worksheet 5 – Measure My Counterspace
Worksheet 6 – Measure Heights of Work Surfaces
Worksheet 7 – Part 1 – Kitchen Storage Test
Worksheet 7 – Part 2 – Measure Your Kitchen Storage
Worksheet 8 – Part 1 – Kitchen Equipment Checklist
Worksheet 8 – Part 2 – Kitchen Equipment Checklist
Worksheet 8 – Part 3 – Tableware Storage Checklist
Worksheet 8 – Part 4 – Tableware Checklist Continued
Worksheet 8 – Part 5 – Supplies and Food Items Checklist
Worksheet 9 – Measure Points You Can Easily Reach In Your Kitchen
Worksheet 10 – How To Place Items In A Work Center
Worksheet 11 – Part 1 – Suggestions For Maximizing Storage Space In My Kitchen
Worksheet 11 – Part 2 – Suggestions For Maximizing Storage Space
Worksheet 11 – Part 3 – Suggestions For Maximizing Storage Space In My Kitchen
Worksheet 11 – Part 4 – Suggestions For Maximizing Storage Space In My Kitchen
Worksheet 12 – A Shopping List For Kitchen Equipment And Tableware
Worksheet 13 – Survey The Lighting And Electrical Outlets In My Kitchen
Worksheet 14 – Decorating Your Kitchen
Worksheet 15 – Gather Samples For My Kitchen
Worksheet 16 – Part 1 – Sources And Appointments
Worksheet 16 – Page 2 – Budget and Priority Schedule For My Kitchen
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