Good cooking deserves illumination Design: Take down that fluorescent ceiling fixture in the kitchen. You need something better, and you need more than one source.

September 01, 1996|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

We're fortunate to have a kitchen with a tall ceiling and a central area large enough to accommodate a table and chairs. It's a fine place for eating, cooking and just hanging out -- except for one thing: the lighting. The entire room is lit from above by a four-tube fluorescent fixture. We know that another type of lighting is needed, but we can't figure out what it should be. Any suggestions?

You've hit upon the reason I've never been a fan of ceiling-situated fluorescent fixtures, especially in kitchens. They can be quite cost-effective, I know, but the harsh light they cast isn't worth having at any price.

This is one of those cases where mere modifications aren't going to be sufficient. My advice is to rip out the fluorescent tubing and start from the beginning.

The key point to keep in mind is that properly illuminated rooms almost always contain a variety of lighting sources. It's actually essential that a kitchen be lighted in more ways than one because of the many different tasks performed there. Who wants to be cutting or chopping with a sharp blade when one's fingers are shrouded in shadows?

Good -- and safe -- counter-top lighting can be achieved by installing recessed ceiling down-lights or a light track with adjustable fixtures. If there are cabinets above the counters, you might also affix a valanced light to the front part of a cabinet's underside. Either "slim line" fluorescent tubing or small halogen fixtures will provide lots of light and little heat.

Because of your kitchen's high ceiling, you should consider installing some reflective up-lighting. A valanced fixture above the cabinets will bounce light off the ceiling and into the room. This can be an excellent source of ambient lighting -- certainly much better than fluorescent tubes hung from the ceiling.

You probably eat most of your meals at that table in the center of the kitchen, so you really ought to invest in a decorative pendant. Something like the single-stem, two-bulb fixture shown the photo would add a touch of elegance to the kitchen while providing the warm glow that enhances the pleasure of dining. A decorative ceiling light placed directly above the table will also help distinguish that area from the rest of the kitchen.

This glassed canopy piece, by the way, is manufactured by the Brass Light Gallery of Milwaukee.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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