Kitchen lighting ideas

Your kitchen is the heart of your home; it’s a place where you can spend lots of time with the family, prepare meals, and entertain guests. Whether your kitchen is open plan or inhabits a separate room, good kitchen lighting design will help you make the most of your space.

Lighting sets the overall mood and feel of your home, as well as contributing to its overall design. When you have great kitchen lighting, the room becomes a more effective workspace and it can even help you keep it cleaner. Setting the mood for a dinner party can happen at the touch of a switch, or if you’re a passionate cook, you can focus light where you really want it – for example, smaller and more focused lights can help with the chopping and peeling. Small touches such as a stylish and functional kitchen lighting design can even help you when it comes to selling up.

Types of kitchen lighting

Kitchen lighting can be roughly divided into three categories: general lighting (for overall illumination), task lighting (for detailed tasks) and accent lighting (for setting a mood, or doing something like illuminating glass-front cabinets).

Of course, every kitchen is different – big or small, the colours, cupboard finish and the placement of your doors and windows will all affect where and how you can install lighting. If you are starting your kitchen from scratch or adding new fixtures to an existing one, we recommend drawing a layout of the floor plan to map out your lighting. Consider where everything else in the kitchen is going so you can make the most of your kitchen lighting ideas, without having to compromise on functionality.

Many kitchens will feature the usual hanging bulb or other light source that’s designed to illuminate the whole room, but there are plenty of other options that can add more warmth, personality, and utility to your kitchen. We’ve listed some of the best kitchen lighting ideas to help you on your way.

Plinth lights

Plinth lights are a modern, functional way to add warmth and light to your space without taking up a lot of room. Plinth lights are normally rows of small LED lights fitted into the skirting panel running along the bottom of kitchen units and cupboards.

They add atmosphere, create a warm glow that softens shadows, and serve as a functional night light – you can turn these on at night for something not too harsh on the eyes. They are popular because they are very cost-effective, affordable, and energy saving.

Under cabinet lighting

Having lights under your wall-mounted cabinets is functional as well as atmospheric. If you have work surfaces under these cabinets, the extra light can really help with food preparation.

These types of light include T4 fluorescent strips, which hide underneath cabinets to provide a sleek, subtle light source. For a quick, easy lighting fix, puck lights are battery operated and are easy to stick on without any wiring. For the ultimate in under cabinet lighting, LED strips are economical and have an even longer life than fluorescent lights.

Recessed lights

Also known as spotlights, recessed lighting is a modern and discreet way to illuminate your home, and they’ve been a popular part of kitchen lighting design for a while. These small, round lights sit flush with the ceiling and usually have sleek chrome fittings, which is great for fans of clean lines and simplicity.

Recessed lights fit into a cavity cut into the ceiling of the room, with the face of the fixture even with the ceiling and the bulb mounted inside. You’ll need a few to illuminate the entire kitchen, but might consider setting them up with the option of only having a few on at a time – allowing you to choose the light level and ambience of your kitchen.

A common misunderstanding is that tall kitchen ceilings require more lights, but that’s not always the case. Tall ceilings allow light to spread further, so recessed lighting can easily provide coverage for the room. The lights should be 24-42 inches apart to provide light to the entire room, not just areas without task lights.

Pendant lighting

Pendant lighting is just what it sounds like – lighting that involves gorgeous, stylish pendants or hanging features.

These lights bring a real sense of style to your kitchen; they can come in the form of hanging lanterns, chandeliers, and repurposed industrial-style fittings. If you have enough room they look great used in multiples, hung in a straight line.

They’re ideal over islands and dining areas to bring a warmer, more ambient light to the area, making a real visual impact and creating a sense of intimacy and cosiness. They bring light down to just above head level, are easy to install, and can be very reasonably priced. There are loads of different options, so you’re sure to find something that suits you.

Track light systems

Track lighting is a system of lighting that involves the use of several fixtures along a continuous track device. Even though they’re generally attached to the ceiling, they can also work when mounted on walls or along exposed beams. To make your kitchen track lighting more attractive, you can replace the light brackets with small pendants.

A great advantage to track lighting is that they can bring the light closer to areas where you need good visibility, and they allow flexibility in both size and position. There are plenty of track lighting systems that can be shaped in a way to suit you; for example, your lighting can be in a curve to work in irregularly proportioned rooms.

A last note

If you’re not sure how much lighting to go for, remember that it’s better to have too much light than not enough. We recommend installing a dimmer switch, as it gives you lots of flexibility, can save on energy costs, and is great for setting the mood.

As a general rule, using light on lots of different levels – not just the ceiling – reduces shadows and gives you a more evenly lit space. Task areas will also benefit from higher watt bulbs.

Most of all, when you’re planning your kitchen lighting, design something that fits with your lifestyle, your needs, and your unique taste. In no time at all you’ll have a kitchen to be proud of!