DELICIOUS LOOKS. The kitchen has become "social central" for family gatherings and entertaining. That means you need lighting to accomplish two things: task lighting for the actual business of cooking and cleaning; and mood lighting to create drama or to highlight specific design elements, like cabinet displays. Try mixing traditional overhead lighting or track lighting with pendant lights, under-cabinet lights or foot lights to create just what you need, when you need it.

Kitchen Makeover

Kitchen remodelling projects continue to provide hefty returns when you decide to sell your home. The 2006 Cost vs. Value report, published by Remodelling magazine, shows that home owners recoup 80.4 percent of the average $54,200 they spend on major kitchen projects, and get back 85.2 percent of the average $17,928 spent on minor projects.

You may be thinking to yourself, “That’s all well and good, but I don’t have that kind of money to spend on a kitchen remodel right now.” If that’s the case, don’t count yourself out — just think on a smaller scale. You can make some dramatic changes in the kitchen just by focusing on one of the attention-getting trends highlighted at the annual Kitchen Industry Show and Convention in Las Vegas – your lighting.

If you have an older home that hasn’t been updated recently, chances are you have a single ceiling mount fixture in the centre of the room and if you’re lucky, another one over the sink. Why not upgrade with options designed to make your life easier?

Today’s designers are replacing old centre fixtures with recessed cans and pendants that offer more direct task lighting in the kitchen. They are also installing under-cabinet lights to highlight counter-tops, and toe lighting to accentuate cabinets.

Under-cabinet and toe lights are easy to add; all that’s necessary is to tap into the outlet wiring along the wall that already exists. Recessed cans are optimal for homes with attic access above the kitchen; a good alternative is a track or rail system to add light fixtures anywhere in the room. These systems provide many options, including the ability to drop pendants over and island and spotlights onto the counters, art or china, all without cutting holes in the ceiling. They are available in a variety of materials and finishes so there’s something that will match just about any décor.

And when it comes to choosing designs, says Terri Langlois, owner of Living Lighting in Dartmouth, NS, try mixing and matching. “These days, we’re seeing people with traditional kitchens putting in modern lighting fixtures,” she said. “There are so many fixtures available it has really turned into a fashion show. There’s clean contemporary, decorative ornamental, pretty much any look you can imagine — and if you want to take it a step further and address intensity and mood lighting, add dimmers to the fixtures you install.”