A kitchen lit only by a central fixture has an institutional feel. Countertop light never seems quite bright enough because the ceiling fixture behind the user casts a shadow on the task area. Paradoxically, lighting only the countertops leaves the general area only dimly lit and makes the cabinets seem even darker.

The rather obvious solution, seen in every properly illuminated kitchen, is to provide both types of lighting, ambient and task. A third type, accent lighting, highlights objects or points of interest and gives the space added visual definition. Designers call this method "layering the light" and use it to aesthetic and functional...

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