How to Pick the Best Countertops for Your Kitchen Lighting

Posted on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by Govi Reddy

When we’re helping our customers pick out new countertops, we’re always concerned with making sure they consider not only what type of granite or marble or soapstone they like – we’re also concerned with making sure that surface will look amazing in their kitchen.

One of the biggest factors is the cabinets, which we’ve discussed at length in several different blog posts.

Another big factor is the type of flooring, which is the other major surface in the room. Kitchen walls and ceilings colors are easier to change according to taste, so they’re less of a concern – but the factor many people forget to incorporate into their choice of countertop surface is the lighting.

Kitchen lighting varies widely. Some have huge windows with lots of natural sunlight, while others have track lighting, one large overhead light, or several recessed lights. The height of the ceiling is also a major factor in how much light the room as a whole receives, since a lower ceiling doesn’t allow light to travel as far as a high one does.

When you’re considering what surface is right for your countertops, use this blog post as a guide to determine whether your favorite choice is going to shine in the lighting your kitchen has to offer.

High Ceilings, Lots of Light

We’ll get the easy one out of the way first: if you have high ceilings with lots of natural light in the day and overhead lighting at night, you have free rein to do whatever you like. Think about how your favorite countertop style will work with your cabinets and floors – your light will take care of itself. Congratulations!

High Ceilings, Not Much Light

If you have high ceilings without a lot of natural light, we’d highly recommend investing in bright overhead lighting. With a high ceiling, usually just one central fixture is plenty to illuminate the whole room, though we do recommend considering under-cabinet lighting if your cabinets jut out over the countertops.

With high ceilings and little natural light, you’ll want to consider how the room will look without artificial lights on. Dark countertops can make the whole room look gloomy and intimidating, and any natural pattern in the material will be lost without direct lighting. With this type of lighting, a lighter-colored surface in white, cream, tan, or light brown would be best.

Giallo Ornamental, Andino White, Typhoon Bordeaux, Ashen White, White Spring, Venetian Gold are some of the granite colors for this situation.

Alternately, you could possibly get away with a blue or green surface with white highlights. The highlights will prevent the dark color from being lost if the lights are off, and when the lights are on the color will show beautifully. However, if you go this route, the countertops should be the darkest thing in the room – go lighter with cabinets and walls and flooring.

Low Ceilings, Lots of Light

This is a particularly rare breed of room, but it does happen, usually in single-story homes where the kitchen is located at the corner of the house, with windows on each wall facing the outside. With this combination, the kitchen receives a ton of light during the day, but can be difficult to light at night because of the low ceiling.

Low ceilings do particularly well with recessed lighting or track lighting over the cabinets, and if you can manage it, that’s what we’d recommend here. If you have a single light fixture in the middle of the room, you may wish to invest in under-cabinet lighting as well.

Low ceilings with lots of light have two opposing options for countertops: go light everywhere except the countertops, or go light on the countertops and darker on the lower level of the room.

If you go dark on the countertops, they’ll be the anchor for the entire room, and the lighter areas above and below will seem bigger by comparison. If you go light on the countertops, continue that lightness from the countertops upward, and go a little darker on the cabinetry below the countertops. This, again, makes the lightness in the upper part of the room seem bigger and more expansive.

Low Ceilings, Not Much Light

Oh no! This is a rough situation to work with, but some kitchens have low ceilings and tiny windows, and that’s just the way it is. In kitchens like these, don’t fight the room’s design – instead, make it feel cozy and well-lighted on the inside.

Lighting over and under the cabinets will make it feel as if the walls are glowing with their own golden light, and a single overhead light will make sure the middle of the room is illuminated as well. If the kitchen has an island, a line of island lighting can serve the same purpose as the overhead light.

For rooms like these, going dark on your countertops simply won’t work. Light-colored granite and marble is a nice possibility, particularly if you can light your countertops well, but you may wish to add some color to your light-starved room and go for a quartz surface in a bright color. This is one of the advantages of a room without a lot of natural light – bright colors can look odd when the sunlight hits them, but they look consistently striking in a room where you control the lighting yourself.

Need Help?

If you’re not sure what type of countertop surface would be best for your kitchen’s lighting – or any of the other factors that are important to you – don’t hesitate to contact us at Arch City Granite in St. Louis. We’re always happy to answer questions and make sure you have the information you need to make the right choice for you.

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