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    Brighten Up Your Kitchen With a Lighting Update

    Good lighting design is essential to a better kitchen. Consider this advice from the American Lighting Association.

    The kitchen is the most typical gathering place for friends and family. So, it stands to reason that it should have the best lighting in the house. However, that's not always the case. A simple, inexpensive lighting update can transform this room from dull to dynamite.

    According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), good lighting design makes kitchens more functional, enjoyable, relaxing and, thus, suitable for entertaining.

    "Good lighting is vitally important in the kitchen," says Jeff Dross, corporate director for education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting. "Perhaps more work in the home is done in the kitchen area than in any other room, and having improper lighting would be tantamount to candles in a warehouse or flashlights on a factory floor.

    "Food preparation is a vital, though sometimes tedious, task performed virtually every day," Dross continues. "Cooking in a poorly illuminated space only increases the drudgery and the danger. Good lighting adds to the overall space and increases the pleasure in using the space."

    Because the kitchen is where people tend to spend a lot of time, it follows that it is also one of the most valuable areas when reselling a home as well. For this reason, experts agree, a kitchen renovation is one of the best ways to boost the value of your home. Along with bathrooms, kitchens are an essential part of the home.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to updating kitchens with a new look, lighting can take a back seat and not get the attention it deserves. According to Dross, this is to the detriment of home design.

    "Lighting is as important a design element as wall coverings, flooring and countertops," says Dross. "It can make an average kitchen look great and elevate a fabulous design to perfection. Need to increase the visual size of a room without tearing down a wall? Add lighting above the cabinets and at the toe-kick space.

    "The importance of good, high-lumen output for task (under-cabinet) lighting cannot be over-emphasized," Dross says. "Wall-mounted cabinets create shadows on countertop work surfaces. The only way to alleviate those shadows (and the accompanying dark spots on the cutting board) is with under-cabinet lighting."

    Other things to consider are energy usage and, by extension, your power bill. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that American consumers use electricity for lighting the kitchen more than any other room in the house. So, to save on electricity costs, invest in energy-efficient lighting in this most-used room of the house.

    To see the most up-to-date fixtures and shades, and to consult with a professionally trained lighting expert, visit your local ALA-member retailer or go online to