The Advantages of Under Cabinet Lighting for Open Kitchen Shelving

Have you recently switched from standard upper cabinets to open kitchen shelving? Many homeowners choose open shelving in their kitchens to maximize storage, make a small space look larger, and save money. 

However, we recommend not skimping on the under-cabinet lighting, even if you have open shelves. Under cabinet lighting increases visibility, improves the ambiance, and is more energy-efficient than overhead lights. Let’s delve into the open shelving ideas from American Wood Reface.

The Importance of Open Shelving

Under Cabinet Lighting for Open Kitchen Shelving

Over the last several years, open kitchen shelving has become increasingly popular. This is because open shelving can be installed around and above kitchen doors and in other awkward spaces that wouldn’t usually allow the use of cabinetry. Not to mention, shelves can be less intrusive and eliminate issues with door swings. Shelves can also be installed higher than standard kitchen cabinets, which means that if you know where you’re putting your coffee maker, hotpot, or toaster, you can ensure the shelves are high enough not to interfere.

Open shelves also make it easier to find and access your items and make it less likely that you‘ll forget what you have. If you have unique dishes or knickknacks, you can create interesting displays and focal points in your kitchen.

The Role of Lighting in Kitchen Design

Kitchens are where you prepare and cook meals, and if you like cooking from scratch, it means chopping a lot of fresh vegetables and preparing a lot of delicious cuts of meat. To successfully cook meals, you need to be able to see what you’re doing, and the best way to do that is to ensure that you have enough kitchen lighting.

One of the biggest problems in kitchens is having too many overhead lights and insufficient task lighting. After all, if your crockpot is located and used in a dark corner of your kitchen, you may have difficulty viewing the food to monitor its cooking. Additionally, you may have trouble washing and chopping vegetables due to poor task lighting or even difficulty finding items on your shelves due to shadows.

Benefits of Under Cabinet Lighting

Under cabinet lighting for open shelves can help improve the functional lighting in your kitchen. Adding lights under your open shelves helps illuminate your counters and between your shelves so that you can perform all your needed tasks in the kitchen and find your dishes and appliances.

Under-shelf lighting also helps improve the ambiance of your kitchen. You can use it to create a calm, relaxing mood, and you can use it to highlight certain displays on your shelves. This is especially useful if you have full sets of matching dishes or rare knickknacks that you’d like to highlight.

Types of Under Cabinet Lighting

Make your kitchen details stand out. Add lighting underneath your cabinets to brighten your space, bringing practicality and style. When choosing the right under-cabinet lighting for your kitchen, you have several options from American Wood Reface:

modern kitchen with under cabinet lighting for ambience
  • Ambient Light: Brighten up your counters, cabinets, and backsplash uniformly with cabinet lighting. You can also adjust the brightness for a cozy atmosphere in the evening.
  • Task Light: Light up your kitchen for food preparation. Cabinet lighting improves your workspace, making it perfect for detailed cooking tasks.
  • Accent Light: Add depth and style for that ‘wow’ factor. Under-cabinet lighting helps create focal points, highlight tile backsplashes, showcase special items, and make your kitchen more practical.

There are various types of lighting for under-cabinet use, such as incandescent, halogen, xenon, fluorescent, and LED. However, American Wood Refaces recommends using LED lighting. LED lights stand out due to their remarkably long lifespan, reaching 70,000 hours, about 50 years. They also offer excellent color rendering, produce minimal heat, and have low profiles, making LED lighting a superior choice.

Design and Aesthetic Considerations

When choosing the right type of under-cabinet lights for your kitchen, the size and color of the light should be considered.

Lighting Size

under cabinet lighting for design and aesthetics

The first consideration is the size, length, and height. You’ll want to ensure that your lights aren’t longer than your shelf or cabinet, and you’ll want to ensure the light’s height won’t take up too much space and impact your ability to put items under it.

Lighting Color

Next, it’s important to choose the right color. Colors for lights are indicated in Kelvin.

  • 2000K to 2999K – This is considered soft light. It’s typically a warm color, and it’s also very yellow, like a sunset.
  • 3000K to 3999K – This is considered warm lighting. This is less yellow than the soft light and can be equated to the light you might see out your window in the late afternoon.
  • 4000K to 4999K – This is considered natural lighting. This range of Kelvins is where the light becomes more white instead of yellow.
  • 5000K to 5999K – This is the middle color between yellow and blue light and is considered cool white. Most retail stores use this type of light because it allows colors to be seen clearly.
  • 6000K to 6999K – This is known as daylight white. It’s typically used for outdoor lighting and can appear slightly blue.

Lighting Placement

How hidden do you want your under-cabinet lighting? Most homeowners want their under-cabinet lighting to be nearly invisible for aesthetic purposes. To achieve this look, you’d want to choose low-profile lights, like strip or tape lights. However, if your shelf or cabinet has a lip hanging down, all you have to do is ensure your light isn’t taller than the overhang. You can also place your lights in the middle of the shelf or near the wall.

Maintenance and Energy Efficiency

under cabinet lighting with led bulbs for energy efficiency

Under cabinet lights are low maintenance. There’s no need to monitor them daily. However, it is important to keep them free of dust and dirt that can cause the light to appear dim. This can be accomplished by using a dry or lightly dampened cloth.

The best choice is SMART LED lights if you’re looking for energy efficiency. LED lights typically produce between 40 and 80 lumens per watt. They’re also rated to last up to 25,000 hours. That’s enough hours to run your LED daily and night for 15 years. LED bulbs also do not quit working suddenly, like previous generations of bulbs. Instead, the light slowly dims over time.

The next most energy-efficient light bulb is the CFL. These are less expensive up-front than LED bulbs, but they typically only last about 8,000 hours or about half the time as an LED.

The least efficient type of light bulb is incandescent. While cheap, it only lasts about 750 hours and consumes the most electricity from all the light bulbs.

Under Cabinet Lighting with American Wood Reface

Under cabinet lighting for open kitchen shelving can provide the light you need to cook, clean, and highlight your favorite dishes. They can be used to improve the ambiance of your kitchen. Hire us today and ensure that your under-cabinet lights are where you need them and installed correctly.

If you’re considering under-cabinet lighting or refacing your cabinets, contact American Wood Reface today!