Task Lighting Gets the Job Done!

Once again, I’m leaning on the expertise of Lesli Baker for this week’s article.  Lesli has worked as a freelance residential lighting designer in L.A. with several celebrity clients and is now available to give advice in Olympia and can be contacted at lessercraft@hotmail.com.  Here’s what Lesli has to say…

Good lighting schemes use the idea of “light layering” general, ambient and task lighting to create a cohesive, productive lighting design. Of these three light layers, task lighting is the light essential to any work related activity from reading and doing homework to cutting vegetables in the kitchen.

The best placement for task lighting in any room is located between your head and the work surface. Lighting in the center of the ceiling and directly above your head is a bad idea because your head will cast a shadow onto your work surface.

Another common issue when considering task lighting is the issue of “veiling reflection”.  This is lighting from overhead and directly in front of you, causing glare reflection from your glossy magazine or high gloss granite countertop.

The solution here is the placement of a light source that comes in from one, or both sides of the viewing angle. Light from the sides instead of from directly overhead better directs the glare from your eyes.

When it comes to task lighting, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. Kitchens are not only the modern family’s gathering place; they are where everything gets done- even that homework mentioned earlier!

If I needed to stress two most necessary design elements for lighting in the kitchen they would be: 1) Under Cabinet Lighting- (this goes back to the lighting placement between the head and work surface idea) and 2) Halogen spots and pendants.

Under cabinet lighting is an important “layer” in the lighting scheme for the kitchen. This type of lighting provides an even layer of illumination along the countertop that is shadow and glare free. A common and easy way to provide his type is the use of linear strip lights mounted at the back of the under-cabinet.

These fluorescent light sources are a good choice- they can be left on all the time as they have a very long life, produce almost no heat, and are very low cost and are very energy efficient.

The halogen spots and pendants mentioned come from my own personal favorite “design element” as well as a great solution for task lighting- low-voltage bendable track lighting. This type of contemporary “lighting system” is very low profile, very efficient and is available in almost any color or finish to fit in any kitchen design, traditional or modern. They can be ordered in bright colors and finishes, or to match the kitchen hardware in chrome, nickel or even more rustic finishes. It is literally ‘bendable’, and can be installed in any fluid or geometric shape.


‘Low-Voltage’ simply put means the standard electrical voltage of 120 volts is lowered to around 12 volts using a remote ‘transformer’. This low-voltage track primarily uses halogen fixtures that are available in many unique and beautiful shapes and sizes and materials. Spots with colored glass diffusers are available as well that hold halogen bulbs with a variety of beam spread available as well.

Match with pendants that hang decoratively, and with purpose, over your kitchen island- looking fashionable in hand blown murano glass in red or blue for example-while providing clean halogen light on your stovetop or preparation area. All these types of fixtures are hung or mounted from one long continuous “track”. By strategically placing all of these light sources where they are needed most, you will find they are working hard for you while looking great as all task lighting should!