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Please help me avoid unpleasant lighting in kitchen

Katherine
2 years ago

Hello! What do you think of my electician’s plan? i really want a kitchen that has warm, soft relaxing light. Like a romantic restaurant.


we currently have LED bulbs that drive me nuts. I don’t understand why, because they are “soft white” 2700 K. 40 w


My dad, who also loves soft lighting, has a stockpile of incandescents and says he will not use LED’s until technology improves. Is this my only option?



-2 4 inch LED disc lights on either side of pendant over sink. (Pendant wasn’t installed for this pic)

-one 6 inch LED disc light to take the place of overhead.

-1 pendant over island (which I have not picked out yet)

-LED undercabinet lighting

-everything on dimmers


I would also appreciate suggestions on island fixtures.


Thank you so much in advance!!

Comments (33)

  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago




  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    2 years ago

    Sorry but a kitchen is a work space and as such needs really good lighting and IMO 2700K LEDS are yellow light and have an effect on everything in the space . Your DR can be romantic and soft but a kitchen not so much . As for your lighting plan triple it to get proper lighting . Pendants are IMO never good over sinks That island needs more than one pendant the center light could be one of many pot lights BTW Led tecnology is amazing and the best choice for lighting there is . It lowers your electrical biil, has many choices of color hue can replace all types of other lighting and where I live there have been no incandecsent lights available for a long time already. CFL are also off the market. I only see one light in your kitchen so maybe that is why it drives you crazy lighting needs to be all over not one fixture in the center of a room .A well lit space has no shadows and no dead spots

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  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thank you! That’s very helpful! Are pot lights preferred over discs? I’m not sure why my electrician has suggested those. Perhaps just for cost savings.

  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Also, at this point I’m really only concerned with lighting in the main work area. The other half is a dining area. Just wanted to provide a shot that shows the skylight and overhead.

  • mackdolan
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Your electricians plan is non specific, inadequate, and will result in harsh shadows and inadequate light. Electricians are not lighting designers. You need more general lighting. More task lighting. Dimmers. And you need specifically chosen brand and model fixtures with the lumens created called out. “Under cabinet LED” says nothing. Neither does “4” LED discs. Unless you have a concrete ceiling like in a condo, there is no reason that ICAT recessed lighting cannot be used. You need a lighting designer. And a different electrician. Any that don’t suggest dimmers flunk the basic lighting skills test.

    Katherine thanked mackdolan
  • Daniel OConnell
    2 years ago

    I'm with Patricia on this, especially in regard to the inevitable shadows that a insufficient light sources provide. I've had a few kitchens with poor lighting and have updated them to a numerous ceiling cans, which has resulted in enormous improvements. You have cool (white light) coming in from the windows, which contrasts with your warmer (2700K) lights. Try lights in the mid-range, about 4000K. I have that in my kitchen (which has French doors and windows), and there is no uncomfortable color contrast at all. I put 21 LED can lights in my kitchen/dining area ceiling, which are supported with a lighted range hood and under-cabinet lights. This reduces the contrast between the lighting on the cabinets and walls, and the very bright light coming in from the windows.

    Katherine thanked Daniel OConnell
  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much! Where do I find a lighting designer? how Much should I expect to spend to achieve what you are talking about?

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    2 years ago

    Lighting design is usually done by your Kitchen Designer. A secondary source would be a local lighting showroom with a designer on staff. The service is usually provided free of charge when purchasing through them.


    You have to know the electrical panel limitations, service access limitations, routing issues, and have the confidence and cooperation of your partner electrician to maximize the success of any lighting design.

    Katherine thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • salex
    2 years ago

    I agreed with Patricia and others. LEDs today are fantastic and versatile. You will be happier if you have LEDs - either pots or discs - over your countertops, in addition to the undercabinet lights. My electrician likes the new discs because they're lower profile than pots (i.e., they don't need as much space in the ceiling).

    By the way: Thank you to oldtime GWers, from me and DH, for helping with my lighting plan a couple years ago. While prepping for Thanksgiving dinner at my MIL's house yesterday, DH kept shifting back and forth (with a knife in his hands) to avoid shadowing his prep space. I quietly told him there's a reason we don't have that problem at home - because we tripled the amount of light we thought we'd need, and it ended up being just right!

    Katherine thanked salex
  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thank you, very helpful!

  • Nidnay
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Odd man out here. Despise LED (even the most current updates)......Your dad is a man after my own heart! I also will not go LED until they are greatly improved (they are better than they used to be but not there yet...even the 2700k’s appear very harsh to my eye). I also have a stockpile of incandescents that will most likely last me till they cart me off to the nursing home :)

    I can still purchase some incandescents where I live BTW.

    I totally get what you’re saying about wanting a soft and relaxing light in your kitchen....something that is pleasing to the eye and senses and doesn’t feel like you’re in a warehouse. This is especially true for those who have an open floor plan. You can certainly have a brightly lit kitchen that is a pleasure to work in and at the same time have lighting that appeals to your eye and makes your space feel warm and inviting.

    I have heard some boast about how LED’s mimic daylight and how great that is. Well, I don’t want my nighttime kitchen lit up and looking like broad daylight....that is extremely harsh.

    I can’t tell you how many people have tried to force LED’s on me (including my electrician). I don’t like the look and just because others insist it looks great and warm and lovely does not actually make it so. It’s completely a matter of opinion and personal preference.

    So....in any case, what your electrician has suggested does not give you nearly enough lighting. If it was my kitchen, I would put three cans over the sink area. You mentioned you already have a pendant in the center of your sink but unless the bulb faces down, you will be hungry for more light there. Would do two pendants for the island, and you need properly spaced cans around the perimeter to light your counters as well as have under cabinet lighting. Every light needs to be on a dimmer, and of course, I would not be using LED.

    Katherine thanked Nidnay
  • mackdolan
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    With the improvement in LED, the people who still have issues with it tend to be those with mild to major visual impairment issues. Very often it’s the first stages of cataract formation that create a halo effect and intensify glare. Or it’s corrective lenses without anti glare coatings. Or it’s astigmatic contacts. The common denominator is visual issues.

    One aid to that issue is to use diffusers over the recessed lights. Much like the ones approved for wet area recessed. Disc lights diffuse the light, but because they hang below the plane of the ceiling, they tend to create even more glare instead of reducing it. Diffuser channels for the under cabinet LED tape lights also works well.

    Always over lamp, and then use dimmers to control specific circuits. Never put everything on the same circuit. You need 4-6 circuits here. 1 for under cabinet. Plus dimmer. 1 for the general lighting perimeter cans, plus dimmer. 1-2 for the over the sink, plus dimmer. One for the island pendants, plus dimmer. Perhaps even another for the island recessed that supplement the pendants, plus dimmer. It depends on the pendants chosen. Many are really just decorative and provide poor work surface lighting.

    Katherine thanked mackdolan
  • Nidnay
    2 years ago

    I would just like to add in response to @mackdolan that I do not have cataracts nor see halos or have vision problems of any kind. I have been heavily involved in photography for decades. Light...it’s direction, intensity, and color is super noticeable to me. It sets the tone and atmosphere in a space like nothing else does. Color tone can be very subtle, and to those who are not particularly observant or sensitive to its variations, don’t even notice (or do notice but are not particularly bothered by it). One doesn’t have to have a medical condition just because they find the light that emanates from an LED unattractive. It’s not the brightness of the LED that is objectionable, but the color it reproduces which creates harshness which has nothing to do with brightness. I think we need to allow for ones personal preference and not assume there is something wrong with an individual just because they view things differently.

    Katherine thanked Nidnay
  • live_wire_oak
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Just go ahead and say it. The reason that people don’t like LED is their old fogey status. LOL! NOT.

    However, it’s not their color. Lighting color is an empirical measurement. Source is irrelevant. Color is color. Whether a 4000K light is produced by LED, Fluorescent, or halogen, the color will be the same. CRI may be different, but that too is empirical, and reproducible by many different light sources. CRI is CRI. Lumens is lumens. All of the measurements can be physically the same, and some people still won’t like LED.

    The reason that most people describe LED as harsh is the flicker rate. For that issue, you can thank the historic choice of AC current vs DC current. Fluorescent and LED are especially affected.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-reason-you-dont-like-led-bulbs-mdash-and-the-simple-way-to-fix-them/

    Katherine thanked live_wire_oak
  • Small Town Friendly
    2 years ago

    This explains my issue. We installed LED in our can lights, closets and pantry. I love light, it makes me feel good but when we turned on the lights I was blinded. I do have a astigmatism, on cloudy days I have trouble seeing. I thought I would get use to the brightness but now I'm worried.
    Question, can you mix warm and cool light? can I keep LEDs in the can light and place a warmer light on other switches?

    Katherine thanked Small Town Friendly
  • frontporchfarm
    2 years ago

    I am in my 30s and cannot stand LED. I get headaches in some of my friend's houses. It's just the harshness of the light. I don't like it and I won't have it in my kitchen. One really wonders how people used to manage when they cooked every single meal they ever ate in their kitchen at home and they didn't have bright lights everywhere? But most people love them and the world in general seems to have decided that they are an undeniable advance for human civilization.

    Katherine thanked frontporchfarm
  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    2 years ago

    Mackdolan, we could not use cans in the ceiling because of existing ductwork that could/would not be moved. Small 75 year old house. We used the discs available at the time (they are thinner and more attractive now).

    Katherine, things my lighting designer told me (I went to a local lighting store and paid for her help, but don't remember how much - because I wasn't going to buy any fixtures there): 1) You have to know the brand of fixture that you are going to use (mine are Sylvania) and find out the radius of the light that will land on your work surface - which the height of the ceiling will affect - this info was available online. You want these circles of light to overlap a bit. So that determines how far apart to space them & how many you need. 2) The light should be centered on the edge of the counter, to avoid casting a shadow in front of you as you work 3) Think about the relationship of the lights to the upper cabinets - avoid placing the light where it will be blocked by an open cabinet door, casting a shadow into the cabinet (or refrig/freezer) when you are trying to see into it.

    My own observation: 1) different brands do look different, in the amount of light and quality of light they seem to cast. I like mine (3000k, 800 lumens each) and have read good reviews of Cree. I have severe astigmatism, very early cataracts, and just plain aging, and find the clean, not too yellow, not too blue light much easier - therefore more relaxing - to see in (frontporchfarm, I cooked in a kitchen with one overhead fluorescent light for 22 years - I love the improved lighting I have now!) 2) My electrician did not seem to know that even a dimmer that is labeled as being for LEDS might not work with the particular brand of light fixture (found out the hard way!) Again, the information was online at the manufacturer's website - right now can't remember if it was at Sylvania's or Lutron's but think it was Lutron's.

    Katherine thanked raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
  • Nidnay
    2 years ago

    @live_wire_oak


    Well, the author of that article has a degree in psychology so I don’t know what his expertise is in lighting or his understanding of Color Rendering Index (CRI) which isn’t even mentioned.


    On the Color Rendering Index scale (which is 0-100) incandescents fall very close to 100 (which is perfect color rendering) and many of the LED bulbs are in the 80’s to 90’s range. CRI matters (as do the other things -kelvin, lumens etc. and how they work together). There is no LED bulb that has a CRI equal to that of an incandescant bulb.


    Katherine thanked Nidnay
  • Nidnay
    2 years ago

    Just want to clarify that I’m not discounting the flickering thing....just that that is not the entire story behind the the lack of appeal of the led bulb.

    Katherine thanked Nidnay
  • Nidnay
    2 years ago

    And please accept my apologies if any of my posts came across argumentation or contrary. That was not my intent....although I AM feeling particularly cranky today....maybe too much turkey yesterday..... and I haven’t even had my morning coffee yet :) !!

    Katherine thanked Nidnay
  • eam44
    2 years ago

    RE: “visual issues”

    I’m myopic (nearsighted) and have had issues with glare my entire adult life which, I’m reminded at the holidays, hasn’t been very long (#kids.table.again.this.year).

    I experience issues with glare outdoors and indoors regardless of the light source, especially with indoor lights not properly and thoughtfully installed.

    As 75% of adults in this country use some sort of vision correction, and 40% of them are myopic, we really have to account for glare in a lighting plan - it is hugely important to a bunch of us. Shades and Diffusers are part of a complete, effective, and polite lighting plan, as are the right bulbs.

    I’m pretty sure my iPad is an LED lit LCD, and it’s brightness doesn’t always go low enough for me. I honestly can’t tell whether light in a room is sourced from an LED, or a bulb (fluorescent or incandescent). There are “cool” and “warm” wavelengths of light emitted from all of the above. Maybe in a few years I’ll get it, but in the meantime, I’m with you in spirit. And I hope they keep making bulbs that you can live with.

    Katherine thanked eam44
  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Beat me senseless, I will not apologize. I hate led 99% of the time. I don't even want to talk about kelvins.

    You CAN have the warmth you want. You stomp your foot with the electrician. You can have warm led tape under the cabinets, They some in a host of hues. There ARE two inch recessed that produce a very clear, bight warm light - an electrician jammed them down my tonsils , and the result was wonderful in a recent redo for a client who is my replica. She can not bear led.

    Don't know your island size, but those should be a shaded pendant..........and there are a million that will take incandescent bulbs. Many bulbs are still available, just not at your local big box. Online? Check " 1000 Bulbs"

    Those two counter corners? Consider tow small accent lamps, and have the cord reduced in length............tuck right in the corners for a cozy little glow.

    I totally understand the need for the warmth. even the lower light. I rarely turn my recessed on in my own kitchen and they are warm four inch. I hear you. I use only soft pink 60 watt light bulbs in lamps. ...............: ) I HOARD them. So yes, I do get it.

    Back to the pendant thing. Avoid glass orbs......lanterns. You want the warm glow down onto the island, Not dispersead all over hellls half acre.

    I will even offer sympathy if you chop off your hand with a bread knife : )

    This warm/ cool issue is no different than paint. There are folks in both camps, from toasty warm beige, to the iciest grays. From deep inky tones to the brightest clean whites. Don't get bossed around.

    A very good electrician will be an ally. For both types.

    Katherine thanked JAN MOYER
  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    This is just the kind of discussion I was hoping for! i have learned so much from bulbs to optimal layout. I feel much more equipped to figure out the best lighting for our needs. Thank you everyone!

  • Michelle misses Sophie
    2 years ago

    FYI there is a software package you can get on a trial basis (30 day free trial) called "Visual 3D" which will let you do some lighting plans. Probably not super simple to learn, but if you are CAD-familiar and geeky it works well. DH used it for his shop and my bonus (sewing/computing/exercising) room and it worked really well.

    Katherine thanked Michelle misses Sophie
  • badabing2
    2 years ago

    The beauty of the 'disc' LED is they're cheap, easy, and you can dial in the color temperature you want (2700K-5000K). Work well with dimmers too. There's 4" and 6" models.

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Halo-HLB-4-in-White-Round-Integrated-LED-Recessed-Light-Direct-Mount-Kit-with-Selectable-CCT-2700K-5000K-No-Can-Needed-HLB4069FS1EMWR/306050711

    Katherine thanked badabing2
  • Mary Glickman
    2 years ago

    Just tossing out there that my husband is a lighting designer. They exist, they work with architects and interior designers, they do not work in lighting shops nor is their work free. LOL.

    Katherine thanked Mary Glickman
  • justlol
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    We installed 7 recessed retrofit lights in our kitchen. I didn't know what "color" lighting I wanted, so we spent around $13 a bulb and installed color adjustable lighting that is dimmable. With one flip of the light switch I have a soft light (3000k), with two flips of the switch, I can have daylight (4000k), and with three flips of the switch, I get blinding light (5000k)! They are dimmable at any stage. I love them! I usually keep them at the soft light setting. Once you pick your setting, it remembers that setting for the next time you turn the lights on. You don't have to go through the one, two, three flip of the switch every time. They are Feit Electric 75W.

    Katherine thanked justlol
  • herbflavor
    2 years ago

    Cree and Phillips are reviewed well . Cree in particular for the dimmable bulbs. Both brands are carried at HOMe depot. You can spend more and purchase online but I was happy with being able to have them in boxes....try them and return those that were not correct till I got it figured out. We went Through a bit of all this for new fixtures on the exterior. Dimmers and understanding that the cheap off brands are to be avoided is important. I would not get above the $teens in dollar amt even if it says 15 yr bulb....the percentage of light in the bulb that is useful decreases over time and 25 dollar bulb may degrade equaliy as a good or better Phillips at 8 or 10 dollars. The issues w kelvin and soft vs bright are pretty straightforward to figure out. Quality issues are a little more obscure but studies and reviews are presented now w some searching from the consumer,

    Katherine thanked herbflavor
  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 years ago

    I think that lighting plan is horrible.

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 years ago

    You can light this whole kitchen with that single power source. And I dont trust your electrician because there is no way you needed a pendant over that sink it basically is kissing the window, dont add two more disc lights next to it, it will then really look like an afterthought!



  • Katherine
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    What are those?!

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 years ago

    I posted on your other thread. its rail lighing and solves more than one problem.