When (And When Not) To Use Under Cabinet Lighting

Under cabinet lighting is best used to illuminate work areas, save space and showcase artwork and collectibles. However, under cabinet lighting does have limitations.

Under cabinet lighting can provide both practical and decorative lighting throughout your home. Many interior designers use it to maximize work area space and to highlight decorative features of woodwork or art in a room. However, under cabinet lighting has limitations, so the following guidelines will give you an idea of when to use and not use under cabinet lighting.

Illuminate Work Areas

Work areas, especially those in a kitchen, have often been hidden in the shadows. A large ceiling fixture works well for general light, but work surfaces need task lighting to maximize their usefulness. Under cabinet lighting works well in this situation by providing direct light to the work area.

Puck lights can provide a spot of light, while larger under cabinet fixtures can illuminate a larger area. Both types of under cabinet lighting can be plugged into a nearby outlet or hardwired to a switch. If you have an antique hutch, you may consider using a small table lamp instead of drilling holes through your expensive piece.

Save Space

Under cabinet lighting saves space by mounting it in an out of the way spot, rather than taking up counter or shelf space. If you have a desk under a cabinet, a fluorescent fixture can give you more light than a traditional table lamp.

Kids And Light

Cords, lamps and electrical outlets can be a serious temptation for young children. With cords out of reach and no lamp bases to knock over, you can safely provide more light at their play centers with under cabinet lighting.

Decorating With Light

Light can highlight your woodwork or art work if you use it correctly. Rope lighting works best when you want to cast a warm glow around the cabinets. The warm glow will highlight tile work or cabinet work. You can also string rope lighting along the top and inside your cabinets to further highlight the woodwork.

If you have a specific item you want to showcase, use puck lighting under the cabinet to center on the piece. Low wattage halogen bulbs radiate little heat, so they are safe to use with most collectibles.

When under cabinet lighting is used with hutches or bookcase, you will need to decide how you want to hide the cords. One way is to drill a hole under the cabinet along the backboard for the cord to pass through. Another option is to drill a hole on top of the shelf along the backboard so the cord can be covered by books or collectibles.

Antiques And Lighting

While light has many decorative uses, you need to remember it can damage surfaces. Under cabinet lighting uses low wattage bulbs, but they can still emit enough heat to damage delicate items such as candles, paper or cloth. The light can also fade surfaces, especially cloth and paper.

Fluorescent bulbs emit high levels of ultraviolet rays that are especially damaging to artwork. They are frequently used with larger fixtures. However, halogen bulbs, which are used in puck lighting fixtures, are a better substitute since it radiates fewer ultraviolet rays.

© High Speed Ventures 2011