Kitchen lighting, mix and match

The ideal kitchen lighting design will cover all the tasks you need to perform in this important area of the home.

That entails focusing the design effort, excuse the pun, on each individual area, keeping the whole in mind. In other words, mix and match your lighting.

For overall illumination, a recessed panel is a must. They come in hundreds of styles with easily replaced panels that provide any look desired. But that basic glow would work best if combined with some task lighting.

Imagine that it's early in the morning and you're stumbling through the still-dark kitchen. Now would be a great time for some under the cabinet lighting. It will illuminate the coffee pot. Or, suppose it's late, late, late in the day. The sun has long gone down and you want to make a little late-night snack. A light that provides just the right amount of illumination for the microwave would be perfect about now.

Track lights often provide both style and a needed extra bit of light focused just where you want. That could mean bouncing some off a kitchen wall or aiming it directly down onto the counter where the salad is prepared.

Lots of things hang in the kitchen - cup racks, pot racks, and more. Dress up these elements and add a bit of practicality by embedding some mini-cannisters to make those items shine. They may come integrated into the rack or can be added separately. Either way they'll make your kitchen more practical and more stylish.

Something close to the ceiling can also be practical and stylish. It keeps those lamps away from the head of a tall person who has to stand on a ladder to get something off the top shelf. But above all it adds a fashion statement to a room that sometimes doesn't get enough attention in that area.

You can't get away from those utilitarian needs. A good recessed cannister light is just right for illuminating those dark corners where you have to work. But why not get one that also adds to the decor? The perfect place for a CFL or LED light, they come in so many styles of housing and trim you can't help but find one you like.

Any kitchen with an island will benefit from task lighting. Just as the tasks performed there run the gamut, so do the styles of lighting available. A row of mini-pendants or a modified chandelier could be just the thing.

Speaking of chandeliers, in many homes the dining area is technically part of the kitchen, or at least an offshoot directly next door. The range of chandeliers available to hang over the dining table is simply astounding. Looking for something classic with a Spanish twist? It's there. Prefer a crystal design that can easily be moved up and down? Done.

Now the only problem you'll have is narrowing down the choices for kitchen lighting to actually choose only a few. That's a nice problem to have.