How To Coordinate Kitchen Lights

Learning how to choose the right lighting for your kitchen is a crucial ingredient to the success of such an important part of the home. Your choices need the light to be perfect for every occasion as well as look great with your kitchen’s style. 

So whether you are planning a completely new kitchen or upgrading what you already have, let us show you how to select lighting as designers do, maximising on this golden opportunity to introduce choices that will make your kitchen look incredible.

Learning to coordinate kitchen lighting choices to suit your design but not necessarily match it, is how to elevate the space into something special. So let’s explore some lighting selection tips and see show you how to make these decisions for yourself.

How to Light a Kitchen teaches how to coordinate the actual light itself from your lighting choices.

Coordinate Kitchen Lighting
©Designsoftheinterior: Lantern coordination with stool legs & extractor hood detail

Successful Kitchen Lighting Coordination

The key ingredients of successful kitchen lighting coordination are choosing the right style and the optimal sizing of the fixtures to suit the space.

Tips on Choosing the Right Kitchen Lighting Style

Modern Kitchens are often open plan where the lighting choices need to suit a combination of space styles. So how do you navigate your way through these mixed styles, make the best choices and ensure the whole space works?

Form and Shape to Choose the Kitchen Lighting Style

The first place to start is the shape and style of the kitchen itself. A big kitchen will allow for grander choices whereas a small kitchen may not need much aesthetic coordination but still consider the chance to let the light fixture play a role. 

The length of a counter top or size of a kitchen island will determine whether a single large light fixture suits the space best or a row of smaller ones. Your view through the kitchen or across the space into adjoining areas may need to remain open so thinner pendants would be preferable over a large statement piece.

Look for walls with some space on to be opportunities to introduce an accent layer of light from a wall light. A tip for the pairing of lighting with the kitchen is to allow the wall lights to play a supporting role and not become a dominant feature. It can mean the fixture is big enough to appropriately fill the space on the wall but fall back visually by being a lighter tone, maybe glass?

For an open plan arrangement consider that a kitchen naturally has a solid aesthetic with lots of flat surfaces adjoined to lounge or dining areas invariably using softer fabrics. The lighting does not necessarily need to match both spaces as a key to successful interior design includes contrasting and complimentary styling. If the kitchen is very shiny and a powerful aesthetic, introduce a fabric shaded pendant or semi flush ceiling light to bridge between the two spaces and mute the kitchen alittle.

Kitchen Lighting Style from Finishes, Surfaces, Colors and Materials

Lighting can be the key ingredient to bringing a kitchen design together.

Choose Lighting that Share Common Features with The Kitchen

By using shared finishes, colors and shapes with other elements within the kitchen it will create a link. Lighting can harmonise any space including a kitchen by weaving a common trait amongst the decorative elements. For example, carry the handle choices from the cupboards into the main finish of a table lamp or pendant choices. The lighting will then support the accessory finish choice and blend them into the scheme.

©Beeskneesinteriordesign: Dark table finish linking pendant chain and ceiling light finishes

Avoid the Obvious

Do not be tempted to overuse lighting fixtures from the same family by avoiding collections. Manufacturer’s create families of lighting to help you choose and hope you use multiples but avoid rolling out a style from the same source for fear of a bland and too obvious a choice. 

Share a Themed Style

Sharing a style or theme however is fine. For example an industrial aesthetic can be interpreted in many ways, sharing the metal finishes of the taps with the exposed lampholders, using the same coloured flex on pendants as other decorative elements have. Use a variety of sources of light fixture all using the same theme to introduce some depth to your choices.

Mix and Match Styles

Coordination does not mean matching. There is a fine line between pairing common traits and becoming monotonous. Good interior design including the lighting choices, mixes and matches textures, materials, finishes, colors, shapes and anything that can play a complimentary role. Successful lighting coordination supports the other accessories and they in turn support the lighting.

For example, a modern country styled kitchen using a dominant sage green will benefit from other smaller elements like the lighting, to carry a complimentary colour to offset the green and make it look even better. 

A contemporary shiny kitchen with glossy cabinetry would benefit from introducing a new texture and finish into the room via the lighting. A satin antiqued brass detail within a decorative wall light or pendant would compliment and help create a harmonious lighting plan.

The Property Location or Intended Location Style

Allow the predominant style of the building to influence the choice. 

For example, a kitchen in a building with original character features would benefit from a complimentary neutral yet sophisticated contemporary lighting choice. Allow the lighting to take a supporting role to the architecture itself.

A property near the coast may lean on a beach style or nautical features of polished chrome and timber. The lighting will play a role in supporting this theme by including fittings that accommodate some of the interiors style either in material and/or finish.

Tips on Choosing Kitchen Lighting Sizing

When choosing lighting sizes think more than just a single fitting to suit a space but also the combination of groups of fixtures. Open flat surfaces beg for something hung over them with some constraint considering that chandeliers, dropped ceiling lights and hung pendants should not block the natural line of sight through the room. A lit set of shelves become a singular lit element to the eye so consider how this balances the room. Lighting is best chosen with a hierarchy.

Create a Focal Point from Feature Lighting

Lighting over an island or kitchen table is a perfect space to hang a feature light. However, you must choose where the dominant feature and therefore visual focus will be for the whole space that the kitchen and other areas may be in and the other choices of lighting must complement and not fight with it in style – a lighting hierarchy.

For open plan kitchens let the more task orientated kitchen island lighting remain simpler and allow the dining area to become the focus with a fabulous chandelier. 

Consider choosing a hung pendant or chandelier that can be used as a tool to connect common spaces together, using it’s style to bind and complete the mixture of kitchen and lounge/dining areas.

The Ratio of Feature Lighting to the Size of the Kitchen

The best coordination of kitchen lighting is a balance between what to include as well as a conscious choice on what to exclude. Too many or too big will spoil a kitchen design so use feature lighting as a high point only and introduce decorative elements sparingly. Remember good lighting design is about contrasts.

See A Kitchen Lighting Design Guide for an in depth guide to choosing where your lighting should be.

How to Calculate the Best size of Light Fixture in a Kitchen

How to Choose the Right Sized Ceiling Light **LINK** is a whole article in itself .

In essence you are looking for an opportunity to go as large as possible with your kitchen lighting choices as hung lighting particularly needs to look like it’s meant to be there. A formula to follow is a helpful guide but using your eye’s judgement is better.

When choosing lighting sizes, think of a picture mounted within a frame. The surrounding plain mount around a picture accentuates the importance of it and gives it space to look its best. Equally, hung lighting choices need space around them to sing as if imagining the empty space around them is the mount of a picture. It’s not wasted space.

Hang ceiling lights over a table or island and always use smaller multiples in triplets or linear suspension fixtures that have at least 12” or 300mm space all around before reaching the ends of the surface beneath.

An estimation to size a bulky more solid chandelier and ceiling lights (not a mostly see through lantern) must be done in imperial measurement. Add the longest length of the wall in feet with the shorter side and the figure is the number of inches wide your fixture should be to look proportionate. For example, a kitchen 20’ long + 10’ wide estimates a 30” wide feature. Use with caution but it helps you think larger in scale.

Andrew Orange , the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.