Let there be light!
Modern kitchen lighting is far more than just neon. Photo: Photocase
Almost every time I cook, my husband says to me: “I’ll put the light on so you can see something.” Our kitchen is old. Very old. And ugly to boot. It’s a combination of different kitchen wall units that don’t match each other and similarly non-coordinating worktops from a large Swedish furniture store. It has a collection of electrical appliances that must bring great joy to our electricity company because their energy efficiency might have been rated good back in the late 1990s.
But my husband doesn’t switch the light on for me because our kitchen is so ugly that I’d rather cook in the dark – it’s not quite that bad. We eat at a beautiful mint green wooden table. It’s something we inherited, so its patina doesn’t just come from the remains of our children’s food. Over the table there’s a beautiful light fixture, a timeless classic by Flos, and to finally get to the point: this light is the only thing that I can stand in our kitchen. Its warm, indirect light creates a lovely homely atmosphere. It’s not especially bright, and that’s why I like it. The fixture is elegant and unobtrusive. Its subtle glow is like an invitation to sit down and spend some time at our dining table. This small icon stands as if it were on a throne looking down on the rest of our cobbled-together kitchen, which hardly seems worthy of it.
Besides the light fixture, our makeshift kitchen only has a dust-covered halogen strip light, which sheds a harsh glare on the cooker, and an awful dim light on the ceiling. These are both relics from a previous tenant, and they radiate the charm of a cold, wet station waiting room. My husband isn’t quite as sensitive as I am to the light in our kitchen. He likes to see what he’s doing when he’s cooking. But we both have taste; we really do. We’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen for a long time. One where you can see what’s in the pots and pans, and in the cupboards and drawers, but more than that. One that’s capable of being what kitchens are secretly famous for: beating the living room into second place in the competition to find the most comfortable room in the house. Our dream kitchen might come from Alpes Inox. Stainless steel is sexy, cool and clean, stylish and tough. It creates a place where work gets done, but also somewhere you can live.
How do you create this balance? With the right light. And I’ll tell you the magic word: indirect lighting. There are so many wonderful technical possibilities and gadgets today! Light can be integrated into shelves, with little LEDs gleaming brightly from the glass bases (take that, electricity company!), and there’s no darkness even between the wall units and the base units – everything is lit, right down to the drawer handles if that takes your fancy. What a dream! Never again having the feeling that you’re hurrying through the crowds of commuters on Platform 3 in November rain with wet shoes, when all you really wanted to do was cook a good spaghetti aglio e olio while enjoying a nice glass of Lugana. Hidden lighting elements everywhere you look. The glass cabinet is making a comeback in the kitchen – I’d like to see some LEDs glowing from behind its front, too… Halogen strip light and dim old light on the ceiling, get ready – your time is up. Me and my husband are going to the furniture show in Cologne in January – then there’ll be light in our kitchen…
A guest commentary by Anuschka Rattunde.