Years ago, it was still acceptable to light a small 10×10 kitchen with a single fixture that held two 60W bulbs (commonly referred to as a ‘boob-light’).
Things have changed. Kitchens are no longer constrained by four walls, they have doubled in size and they contain numerous chefs at any one time. The kitchen has become a sophisticated space, where cooking is not just done out of necessity, but out of the the sheer joy and entertainment of the task. Lighting of newly defined kitchen space must be efficient, flexible and attractive.
The layers of lighting:
Task Lighting- This is the light that is cast over your work surface. It is important there be no obstruction between the light and the surface, for maximum efficiency. The task lighting on your perimeter counters would be your under-cabinet lighting. Various options for this include; Linear Fluorescent light, Halogen or Xenon Strip or Puck lights, and newer LED Strip light technology. The task lighting over a peninsula, island or sink would be a pendant or island fixture.
Ambient Lighting- This is the general light in the space. It is most commonly the boob light in the ceiling, though modern versions are much more attractive. Other lights in the space could double as ambient light as well, depending on the style of fixture and source.
Accent Lighting- This is most commonly seen as Recessed or Track lighting. The most common lighting question I get is “where do I put my pot lights”. There are two effects that can be achieved with Recessed and track lighting; one is to flood the space with light, the other is to accent what you want the eye to be drawn to and softly bounce the light back into the room. The latter is usually preferable, as using a directional source to light a large space can be quite glaring and unflattering.