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When they're done right, illuminated kitchen ceilings create an evenly diffused wash of light that provides brightness and minimizes shadows. But when they are poorly designed, illuminated ceilings can make the kitchen dark and claustrophobic. Most illuminated ceilings feature a soffit, either plaster or plywood, installed 7 feet from the finished flooring and in line with the countertops below, usually about 2 feet off the wall. I've found that the 7-foot ceiling, which allows only a 4-inch clearance above the tops of doors and windows, makes the kitchen feel crowded. At the same time, the countertops tend to be shadowy since there's no light directly over them. Improper fluorescent lighting creates another set of problems. Illuminated ceilings are often underlit because the wrong types of lamps