Indoor-outdoor living is more than just a trend- it's become a lifestyle. Many homeowners are choosing to bring the functionality of their inside kitchen to their outdoor space so that they can enjoy the luxury of cooking and dining in the open air.
A well-designed outdoor kitchen will add value to a home and extend the length of the outdoor cooking season. It can be as simple as placing countertops near an outdoor grill, or as elaborate as a kitchen designed with a sink, stove, refrigerator, and even a smoker. Having a proper lighting plan is critical to ensure that the kitchen is just as functional at night as it is during the day, setting the perfect ambiance and adding visibility and safety.
Just like inside the home, properly layered light is a necessity outdoors. Begin by planning the ambient layer, the first layer of light fixtures to provide a soft wash of general, balanced illumination. For outdoor kitchens in a protected area, select ceiling mounted fixtures or a ceiling fan with a built-in light. Landscape lighting also adds to the ambient light of the outdoor kitchen space as it casts light gently across a yard, adding to the overall visibility.
Task lighting is the second and most critical layer for an outdoor kitchen. This layer should provide sufficient illumination to prepare, cook, and serve food. Install focused sources of light above working areas such as countertops, grills, and sinks. Recessed downlights are an excellent choice as they reduce light scattering and provide direct light without interfering with the mood.
The third layer, accent lighting, is used to draw attention to beautiful features and architectural details of the outdoor space. Add wall sconces near work and dining areas to highlight them. Install pendant lighting over an island or bar area to create a welcome gathering spot, and place table lamps next to furniture for the ultimate comfortable touch.
Lighting options vary greatly depending on whether the outdoor area is covered or not. There are a great variety of lighting options for protected areas, but make sure to select lighting that is damp rated even when placing fixtures in sheltered areas. When lighting an open space, select fixtures that are wet-rated as the lighting will be exposed to outdoor elements. Post-mounted lights are a great option for adding light in an uncovered kitchen or dining space.
Complete the lighting scheme by adding dimmers so that lighting can be adjusted as darkness falls. Add stairstep and pathway lighting for safety and to increase the amount of ambient lighting that spills into the work area. Make sure to choose lights with the same color temperature range for a seamless look that is not just functional, but beautiful.
Today it is easier than ever to bring indoor lighting concepts outside. Lighting manufacturers offer a range of lighting designed specifically for outdoor use. New outdoor-rated pendants, chandeliers, wall sconces, and ceiling fans provide the durability and safety rating necessary to be used outside in beautiful style. For more expert advice, visit an ALA Member Showroom.