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With surface mounted lights they to will provide a pattern of illumination but on a wider area then recessed lamps would, but again depending upon the bulbs, wattage and fixture type this area of illumination will vary greatly from one fixture to another.
My suggestion would be to go to a specialty lamp store. Provide them with the layout of the area in which you desire to light up. Give them ceiling height as well. They can help you choose not only a light style that you will be happy with, but one that is energy star rated as well. If anything you will learn a lot about lighting from these professionals and at least give you some options that you may not even thought about.
Once you choose your fixtures and lay out. I would suggest that you have these professionally installed. Proper wiring is a must with light fixtures particularly with higher end fixtures. Special dimmers are required with some types of lamps and lots of other goodies you would not even know about until the lamp did not light correctly or burnt out to soon.