Lighting for kitchens in luxury building conversions

This month, we are going upmarket with a kitchen in a luxury building conversion. Many of our city centres have old industrial buildings which, although empty, can have attractive architectural features. Their prime location means that culturally important industrial buildings can have a new life as residential apartments. 

In this conversion, the original iron pillars, glazing bars, wood flooring and arches have been kept. The rest of the space has been stripped out and modern lighting and kitchen technology installed.  

The space is not only used for cooking but also as a dining area and somewhere to relax. The lighting, therefore, has to perform a multitude of functions.  

Firstly, you need to get the essentials right. Putting luminaires only in the centre of the kitchen means that you will almost certainly be working in shadow under the cabinets. You need light over each work area and this will mean extra lighting under the shelving. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as too much illumination when you are using a sharp knife or electric blender. 

It’s always a good idea to control the cooking and dining area separately. In that way, the cooking area can be dark and “unseen” whilst you are eating. Dimming groups of luminaires gives you more flexibility. Remember that you can now get retrofit LED lamps which give a warmer appearance when dimmed. 

In terms of the overall look of the area, the options show various lighting effects that you could apply. They work best in combination with each other coupled with a scene set or dimming panel. Always remember the words of William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." That equally applies to the lighting. 

Our kitchen is a nominal 5m x 5m with a 2.5m ceiling.

This is a busy weekday in winter and it is dark outside. You need a good boost of light in the morning and everything is switched on 100%. You also need lots of light for people moving around, reading the newspaper (if they have time!) and collecting their bags for work or school. 

There is plenty of light on all the work tops and preparation areas. This mainly comes from the Polespring LED downlights and the linear LED Contour HD27 in the ceiling recess.

All the vertical surfaces are well lit and the whole space is bright and airy. 

To provide extra interest and also to highlight under the cupboards, we have used Luccini steplights under the kickboard. The period columns in the archway are illuminated with Lucca uplights.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires Polespring downlights, LED strip, Skinny wall lights
  • Optical control Various
  • Pros
  • Gives you a boost in the morning 

The emphasis here is on the food preparation area, washing up and the central Island. We are achieving well over 300 lux on the worktops and the downlights have high CRI LED sources. We have also used the linear LED Contour HD27 under the island and also along the kickboard. 

Small, narrow angle downlights are used on the upper wooden cupboards giving a pattern of scallops. 

In comparison, the dining table lights are switched off. Similarly, the window wall is much darker. There are some recessed Lucca uplights grazing up the wall to highlight the texture of the original brick. 

Lighting inside glass cabinets is a good way of providing a soft, ambient atmosphere but make sure that what’s lit up inside is attractive!  The small Footlight luminaire is ideal for this purpose.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires Lucca and Luccini uplights, Contour LED strip
  • Optical control Various
  • Pros Work without distraction

The evening meal has finished and it’s time to relax. All the ceiling and kitchen preparation lights are off, just leaving the polished copper shade lighting over the dining table.  The wall lights are much more apparent now. So, too, are small Lucca uplights on the refurbished iron pillars between the kitchen and lounge. These also light the curve of the archway. Attractive architectural features are best lit simply. 

Lighting on top of cabinets, shining upwards, is an unobtrusive way of reducing the number of downlights required and high output white LEDs will provide general background lighting. This can be a very useful way to “lift” the appearance of the room. 

However, to add variety and change the mood, we are using RGB Contour strip which can be programmed to different scenes. Having the LEDs both top and bottom lightens the appearance of the cabinet.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires Skinny wall lights, Contour RGB strip, Footlight in the wall recess
  • Optical control Various
  • ProsTime to relax