12 Top Kitchen Lighting Tips

Did you know that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home? It’s where you prepare food, entertain guests, and gather with family. In order to make this space work for you, it’s essential to have well-lit areas without being too bright. Here are 12 top kitchen lighting tips that will help light up your life!

Kitchen Light Tips

#1 Make a Lighting Plan

The kitchen is the most multi-tasking room in the home. Traditionally it had solely been a place to prepare food but increasingly it has become the very epicentre of the household as modern home design becomes more open plan. The lighting design needs to be flexible to accommodate a wide variety of functionality.

Certainly, food preparation areas need to be shadow free and bright but the space needs to make a seamless transition to a relaxing living space too. Lighting is the principle factor in this change of scene and a powerful tool when used well. 

The best kitchen lighting design separates the lighting into layers and multiple circuits so you can optimise your control.

#2 Create a Task Lighting Layer

Make sure the working areas are very well lit on their own task lighting circuit. Here’s a few ideas:

#3 Create an Ambient Lighting Layer

Ambient lighting is the general light level built up by all the lit surfaces in the kitchen but you need to make sure that there is enough particularly if the room has poor natural daylighting.

Here’s a few ideas:

#4 Create an Accent Lighting Layer

The form and shape of a kitchen is best shown at night from a variety of individually lit spaces. This accent lighting creates depth by using pockets of light and not lighting everywhere flattening the three dimensions of the space.

Some kitchen accent light ideas are:

#5 Carefully Select Recessed Lighting

Recessed LED downlighters (Can Lights) are a great way to introduce much needed higher levels of working illumination:

#6 Define Intimate Eating Spaces

The volume created from high ceilings is visually powerful but more intimate spaces for dining and eating should be created. Try adding a group of pendants over a kitchen island or use table lighting particularly if the ceiling height is over 2.4m to define the more intimate eating areas. Create an accent light layer by considering the lower level of illumination to transform your space from more functional to ambient.

#7 Light the Kitchen From Different Directions

A lighting designer tip is to ensure the kitchen is not lit predominantly from one direction particularly from recessed ceiling downlighters.

#8 Create a Kitchen Island Feature

The kitchen island is a prime spot for a bold lighting statement and create a real focal point to the room. Pendants are best grouped in three and make sure they are on their own circuit. This feature accent light will need the help of additional LED downlighters to create enough task lighting over the island counter top.

© Showing: Wall Light & Pendant

#9 Create Mood Lighting

Kitchens become a scenery backdrop at night in open plan living areas. Use toe kick plinth lights on separate circuits to use the whole kitchen space itself as an accent light for the adjoining spaces. Plinth lighting is a useful night light or background illumination by giving low-level illumination across the floor that reflects up gently onto other surfaces.

#10 Create Drama

Use lighting to create drama with contrast. When the light levels are lower it allows particular items of interest to be highlighted, so there are lights and darks. This can be done by hiding LED strip in alcoves or integrate homogenous lines of LED light into the ceiling. The miniaturisation of LED offers new opportunities to create stunning kitchen interiors.

#11 Go for Maximum Control

Putting as many different types of light on their own circuits is a key to optimum control so these can be integrated into a sophisticated controls package or assigned simply to a manual on and off or dimmed when required. The more choice you create the more control you will have to create the right balance of light for every occasion.

#12 Never Over Light

Overall, remember the key to great lighting design is not to over light, as this will flatten the interior and make it appear bland. Make sure each chosen light fixture is doing a specific job – do not be tempted to just line up downlights to random throw light onto the floor. If it’s not doing a particular task – cut it from the scheme.

Check out the best kitchen lighting that we can recommend, with full buying guides and reviews.

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.