12 Top Kitchen Lighting Tips

You could say that 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. 

So if you are planning on some changes to your kitchen, start here with our professional kitchen lighting design tips and ideas.

Kitchen Lighting Design Planning

Do not forget that lighting should be an integral part of your kitchen planning, after all at night the kitchen is only as good as the light that is illuminating it. Considering How to Light a Kitchen could affect your choice of materials, such as counter top task lighting **LAYER (link)** will create glare in highly reflective surfaces.

Kitchen Lighting for the Hub of the Home

A kitchen performs a variety of roles and the lighting must be designed to adapt to suit each activity. Practical bright general lighting for working and cooking in, mood lighting for more intimate moments and anything in between. The best kitchen lighting design separates the lighting into layers and multiple circuits so you can optimise your control.

Kitchen Task Lighting 

 Areas for food preparation need higher levels of light – running mid to high output LED under wall cabinets is always successful. Reflecting light off the wall under a wall cabinet helps throw the light towards you and ensures working in a shadow-free work surface. Throwing light on walls helps push them back visually creating more space.

Create Ambient Lighting

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.

A designer lighting tip is to light the ceiling from over wall cupboards or from wall uplighters. Try bouncing light at a 4000K colour temperature onto the ceiling as it will lighten the space, particularly during the day.

Note: you will need a 300mm minimum gap between the ceiling and the hidden source of light to make it worthwhile. Consider 2 lines of LED strip – cooler white **LINK**4000K in the day and a warmer **LINK**2700K for the evening. The light needs to bounce back into a wide space for full effect.

Create Accent Lighting

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. Hide lighting in shelving, inside glass fronted cupboards, use wall lights, hiding lighting beneath free standing units or uplight arches. Light anything that is interesting.

Kitchen Downlight Tip 

Recessed LED downlights are a great way to introduce much needed higher levels of working illumination so position them in line of the edge of worktops to create a shadow free task light. Do not be tempted to line them into grids but place them only where the light they create is needed. 3000K colour temperature suits most kitchens perfectly.

If the budget can afford it – a high CRI LED (95RA) will give the best results for wonderful food and interior colour rendition. You require at least 650 lumens **LINK** per downlight or double up LED lamps by using twin downlight fixtures. Dimming is useful for the multi-task uses of the hub of the home.

Kitchens with High Ceilings

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.

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. A balance should be created by using lighting at a human height from wall lights or dropped pendants to throw light through the space. Consider reflecting the light from the ceiling off of wall cupboard doors and bounce light back into the kitchen. Always think about how light can be thrown up and down to contribute to illuminating the ceiling and floor respectively and remain aware of those reflected surfaces and their contribution to the aggregate illumination.

Kitchen Island Lighting

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

Kitchen 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.

Light to Create Drama

Use lighting to create drama and contrast. When the light levels are lower it allows particular items of interest to be highlighted or create lighting effects. Hide 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.

Kitchen Lighting 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.

Successful Lighting Design Tip

 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.

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.