Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location

Introducing RealPad

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

Celebrate Black Life, History, and Culture!



You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation



Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free



Life at 50+ - Discover. Engage. Enjoy.





Life at 50+ - Register for the Digital Experience



Happy African American couple







AARP Auto Buying Program



AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy






Military and Veterans Discount




New Book

Dating After 50: How to get back in the game

Dating After 50 For Dummies

Contests and

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules


Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Home & Community Webinars

Family & Caregiving Webinars

Popular Articles



AARP Games - Play Now!

Poll: Are You a Real Techie?

Universal Design

Improve Kitchen Lighting
and Electrical Plans

Learn the basics for greater comfort and safety.


Good lighting can do wonders for any kitchen. It makes all the kitchen surfaces more visible, which is important because you’ll feel more secure and safe as you prepare and cook food. Good lighting can also make small spaces seem larger. Plus, adequate light can create a sense of well-being.

Light It Up!

A well-illuminated kitchen has two types of lighting: general lighting, the overall illumination that comes from daylight or from overhead fixtures, and task-specific lighting. Both are important in the kitchen. When it comes to general lighting, a large ceiling fixture with long-lasting, eco-friendly fluorescent bulbs will give off plenty of light and mean fewer trips up and down a ladder.

You can improve task lighting by installing fluorescent fixtures under the cabinets or by adding lighting over the range, sink and other areas where much of your work takes place.

Electrical Plan

It’s essential to install an electrical system that is safe and easy to use. The number and placement of outlets is especially important in a kitchen — for ease of use and to satisfy current building codes. A good, inexpensive strategy is to install a surface-mounted cable raceway at the back of the counter or under the cabinets to make more outlets available for small appliances. All outlets, especially those near water, must be changed to ground fault interrupter outlets, known as GFI outlets, to avoid the possibility of shock. And remember to install your light switches and electrical outlets no higher than 48 inches (122 cm) from the floor for easy reach.

Watch the Cords!

If you must use extension cords, select only those with built-in circuit breakers. The thickness, or gauge, of the wire is what determines extension cord ratings. Many cords are intended for use only with table lamps and present a fire hazard when used for kitchen appliances with a heavy electrical draw. Read the gauge of the wire on the extension cord tab to see if it’s adequate for the appliance you have in mind.

Keep It Current

Relocate your fuse box or service panel from a hard-to-access location (like the basement) to a place you can reach easily in your kitchen or a nearby hallway. And update your service panel. Most older homes have a 60-amp service panel, although the minimum used today is 100 amps. Current safety codes require separate circuits for appliances such as microwaves and refrigerators. If you’re renovating your kitchen, ask your electrician about the need to upgrade the electrical power and whether worn-out insulation around the wiring should be replaced at the same time.

'Revitalizing Your Home' by Rosemary Bakker (book cover)

Rosemary Bakker is the author of the AARP Guide to Revitalizing Your Home, which is available through Barnes & Noble. Bakker holds a master of science degree in gerontology and is a certified interior designer.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

membership ancestry

Members save 30% on  a one-year subscription to

Grocery Coupon Center

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Member Benefits Discounts Angie's List

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.