March 20, 2005
Kitchens are brightening up across the East Valley, thanks to a barrage of lighting options. Gone are the days of small dome fixtures or, heaven forbid, fluorescent lighting.
Today’s kitchens are aglow with contemporary chandeliers, soft lamps and pendant lights.
Chandeliers continue to be popular over dining tables or breakfast nooks. But they aren’t all crystal and formal, says Duane Duncan, sales manager for Lumature in Phoenix.
His clients prefer contemporary chandeliers with sleek lines and modern touches — like a long row of square glass lights suspended by a brushed nickel rod.
Most Lumature lights have a modern look, but Duncan points out many were designed in the 1950s and 1960s, when modern furniture went mainstream. Now, they’re enjoying a renaissance thanks to homeowners sick of the "Tuscan trend" and looking for other options.
"Modern (light fixtures) are simple but make a bold statement," says Duncan. "You can use more color in your kitchen because they aren’t so ornate. And you can be a little more playful because that’s just expected."
But not everyone is abandoning an Old World look in their kitchens, says Mary Fisher Knott, a Scottsdale interior designer who specializes in kitchens. Many of her clients prefer wrought iron chandeliers and lighting fixtures in their Italian kitchens.
Regardless of a home’s style, recessed and task lighting are essential, says Chad Reiffers, a lighting consultant at Cappadonna’s Lighting in Tempe.
Sinks and food preparation areas need a lot of lighting, he says, and not all of it can be bulky light fixtures. He recommends recessing lights into ceilings over those areas, saving fixtures for islands and eating areas.
But Reiffers cautions homeowners that architects are often more concerned with symmetry than with common sense. He says many kitchens boast recessed lights centered across the ceiling, rather than clustered over busy areas. If that’s true of your home, he recommends removing and reinstalling recessed lighting first.
Once that’s done, Reiffers suggests adding some ambience with under-cabinet lights, which are hidden to cast a soft glow onto countertops.
"It makes a huge difference, especially now that we’re using all the granite countertops and backsplashes," he says. "It brings out all the little sparkles and the crystals in the stone."
With detached counter spaces popping up in many homes, island lighting is more important than ever.
Pendant lights are the most popular, says Duncan, because they provide concentrated lighting while making a design statement.
At his store, pendant lights come in every shade and shape imaginable — from big blue balls to small silver squares. But Duncan says he encourages customers to go for bigger pendants to make a bolder statement. "Everyone is doing them small," he says. "I’d rather go a little larger because it’s something different."
Reiffers loves the look of blownglass pendants, while Knott likes intricate porcelain designs. And Duncan, of course, is crazy for contemporary styles.
All three agree, however, that pendant lights — which are typically installed in threes — are going to continue to be popular because of their practicality, variety and beauty.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Not all kitchen lights are set into or hanging from the ceiling.
Reading lamps are popular for kitchen desks and standing lamps are showing up around kitchen tables. Track lights are still popular over islands, as are cable lights.
In the end, kitchen lighting depends on preference and budgets, says Knott, adding that good lighting can cost from $750 to $20,000, but it’s worth the cost.
"It’s the gathering place for the entire family, so it’s crucial to have good lighting," she says. "And they have to be beautiful because kitchens aren’t just for cooking anymore. Often, they’re the most beautiful part of the home."
Kitchen lighting tips
• When shopping for lighting, make sure fixtures are functional before buying. Ask yourself: Do they give off sufficient light for the area? Are they low enough to provide concentrated lighting, or will they hit heads? Are they practical, or just beautiful? Is there a better option for this space?
• Never place a single light fixture over an area used for food preparation, including sinks. Bodies can block a single light source, leaving cooks in the dark. Instead, install two or three fixtures around the area needing light to ensure brightness no matter where you stand.
• Don’t install too few or too many light fixtures. The latter can make a kitchen look cluttered. Focus on a few key areas, and place lighting accordingly.
• Coordinate lighting fixtures with your kitchen’s design and style. Feel free to add a little flair with your lighting, but don’t install a winding wrought iron chandelier if your kitchen is full of sleek lines and stainless steel.
• Don’t block recessed lighting with a ceiling fan or a pot rack. Look for fans and racks with lighting included.
Lighting that concentrates on specific areas for tasks such as preparing food or washing dishes.
Lighting set into the ceiling so that light fixtures don’t extend beyond the ceiling.
Lighting that utilizes a fixed band that supplies a current to movable light fixtures.
Similar to track lighting, but utilizes two cables to hang lighting fixtures.
One or more lighting fixtures (known as "pendants") attached to a long rod hung from the ceiling.
A branched lighting fixture — often ornate — that hangs from the ceiling.
A light fixture attached to a wall; often made to hold a candle.
Where to find lighting
5030 S. Mill Ave., Tempe (480) 820-7192
Expo Design Center
7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix (480) 538-2500 www.expo.com
15620 N. Scottsdale Road, Phoenix (480) 998-5505 www.lumature.com
15613 N. Greenway-Hayden Loop, Scottsdale (480) 991-6767
Hinkley’s Lighting Factory
4620 N. Central Ave., Phoenix (602) 279-6267
155 E. Broadway Road, Mesa (480) 833-0101 and 8920 E. San Victor Drive, Scottsdale (480) 391-0452