The Importance of Good Lighting—and Understanding It

The Importance of Good Lighting—and Understanding It

Good lighting is integral to the structure and layout of your kitchen design. Photos courtesy of Lutron.

A great location, the floor plan/design the customer envisioned, perfect appliances, flooring, countertops, plumbing fixtures, and all of the other pieces — can add up to your potential customer saying yes to a home project.

Are any of these pieces more important than the others in the puzzle? Is the kitchen design more critical than the guest bedroom or the powder room fixtures? If a customer wants a “green home,” would they still purchase your home if they did not like the design of the kitchen?

If not looked at closely, some of the pieces of the home puzzle can be detrimental to the whole. Lighting is one of these systems. Take a kitchen design where the cabinets, backsplash, appliances, countertops, island and flooring all blend perfectly, but only one light fixture in the middle of the ceiling is installed.

This could make a kitchen valued at tens of thousands of dollars look and feel like a kitchen purchased at a discount store.

That’s why today’s kitchen designs incorporate under-cabinet, over-cabinet, in-cabinet lighting, pendants over an island, recessed lights outlining the space, lights focused on the sink area and often in other locations. This attention to lighting creates proper task lighting along with ambiance to highlight all of the other pieces of the kitchen design.


Over the past few years several complications have entered the equation of lighting design: high efficiency lamp types, whole-home energy rating systems and lamp color temperature. The small job of lighting a kitchen can now be very painful. What types of fixtures do you need to use to qualify for these rating systems? What lamp types (CFLs and LEDs, for example) do the fixtures need? Can they be dimmed to enhance the ambiance? What do those Kelvin color temperature numbers mean and why do you need to care?

One thing is certain: You can’t go back to the one light in the middle of the kitchen ceiling and remain competitive.

Learning how to incorporate the various fixture/lamp types into your kitchen design is critical. Imagine adding a lamp type with a cool Kelvin temperature giving off a “bluish” light onto cabinetry and countertops that were chosen under a warmer lamp temperature. They can look like totally different selections and quickly disappoint a customer.

Another consideration is how these lamps and fixtures are controlled. Even with the number and placement of the fixtures properly installed, what if you are not able to dim the lamps? Not having the ability to adjust the lighting levels for meal preparation or to create ambiance for entertaining will disappoint as well.

A few points to consider:

  • People are accustomed to seeing home finishes in “incandescent” lighting that provides a warm yellowish glow.
  • There are solutions available that can dim or control any of the lamp types that have been introduced.
  • CFLs do not produce “bad light” when used in appropriate locations like closets, basements, utility rooms and garages.
  • Some CFLs can be dimmed, but not all dim equally as well.
  • LEDs have come a long way with better color temperature, dimming capabilities and lower prices. These lamps are the future of lighting in residential applications.
  • High-efficiency halogen or incandescent lamps paired with a dimmer save energy and extend lamp life.
  • If you’re not considering what effect the lighting in key areas such as the kitchen and master suite are having, someone else probably is.

Search for people who are happy to help you navigate these design factors, while educating you on how to accomplish your desired outcome.

Just like many other facets in building, once you are educated it is no longer complicated — it’s an advantage to own over your competition.



Erik Anderson, CGA, CGP is the National Sales Manager – Residential Construction for Lutron Electronics Co. He is an active member of the NAHB and IEC at the National levels. He works with the 20 Club Program, chairs the Marketing/Communications workgroup of the Home Technology workgroup and sits on the Custom Home Builders Committee. He is also active in his local HBA, the Pocono Builders Association. He can be contacted at or (484) 809-3867.

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