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Track Lighting Tips & Ideas for Kitchens

Track lighting works well in kitchens as it combines both powerful and useful lighting sources as well as being able to accommodate more decorative pendant choices. Track lighting has an enormous range of options to suit virtually every requirement including building it to your own choice of shape, it can be suspended, it can be curved, it can be any size, it’s truly a solution to learn more about. So let us share our own experience and be inspired with our track light tips and ideas.

Track Lighting Explained

A track light system is a powered channel or track that allows for the changing of positioning of the light source, the choice of the track light fixture and in some cases how it is controlled and suits a wide variety of applications. The track and light source are separate and the source can fix in place anywhere along the track and be moved or removed at any time.

To benefit from the full potential of using track lighting and choosing where a track can be used, first understand that the track itself should be considered as a surface to fix to, as a light fixture would to a wall or ceiling. This then opens up the potential to position a light source where there isn’t a surface to fix to, as long as the track can be suspended or fixed into place.

Where to Use Kitchen Track Lighting

Track systems are made primarily for two types of luminaire: adjustable spotlights and pendants. Adjustable spotlights provide task lighting when directly illuminating a surface and accent or ambient lighting when reflected off of surfaces like walls or artwork. Pendants hung from tracks can create a focal point to the kitchen and offer a wide choice of feature lighting for ambient or general lighting.

High Ceilings

Kitchens with high ceilings create a challenge to provide well controlled lighting onto counter tops without spreading the light too widely. Use kitchen track lighting to either suspend the track system to offer lower levelled task lighting from track spotlights or use pendant lighting with long drops from the track to over the task areas.

Track Lighting for Vaulted Ceilings

Kitchens with vaulted ceilings provide their own challenges with exposed supporting framework and long distances to light from. Mount track lighting onto beams and use their central positioning to throw light back upwards towards the ceiling to light the ceiling itself and provide reflected light into the room.

Track Lighting for Sloped Ceilings 

Successful kitchen lighting ensures the right amount of light is in the right place and installing lighting into sloping kitchen ceilings makes controlling the light more difficult. Installing track light systems allows the choice of track spotlight to be widely adjustable and accurate in delivering the desired light.

Low Ceilings

A kitchen with a low ceiling can benefit from track lighting where an alternative to recessed lighting is required. Good kitchen lighting design relies upon the accurate delivery of light so the versatility of track spotlight positioning and pendant drops allows the lighting scheme to stay on track.

Track Lighting for Small Kitchens

How can a small kitchen feel bigger with lighting? Use kitchen track spotlights adjusted towards the walls and wall cabinets to illuminate them and especially if a cooler colour, the well lit surfaces will reflect back efficiently and create the sense of opening up a tight space. 

Layering the Lighting to Create Interest 

The layering of light is an important kitchen lighting technique, where a diversity of lighting types and styles are used to create visual interest and essential illumination. The kitchen track light system broadens the opportunities to ensure the task, accent and ambient lighting requirements are met.

Use Track as Task Lighting

Task Lighting in kitchens. see How to Light a Kitchen, provides the higher concentration of illumination to perform work orientated activities. Preparing food, washing up, cleaning, reading and any task where the user will benefit from shadow free higher levels of light can be delivered effectively from track spotlighting.

Adjustable Task Lighting

The kitchen track light is best chosen as an adjustable and directional source of light, so the task lighting over kitchen islands and counter tops can be accurately and effectively delivered.

Aesthetic Benefits From Track

A row of spotlights on a single track in a contrasting finish to the kitchen, provides the powerful source of task lighting a kitchen demands in an aesthetically efficient way. Choose minimally styled well designed bar and track LED spotlights to enhance any contemporary kitchen design.

Introduce Sinuous Lines

Flexible track or monorail lighting offer the opportunity to introduce curved surface mounted lighting into the kitchen lighting scheme, introducing a softer style onto the ceiling. This curved track solution retains the choice of adjustable drop pendant and directional spotlighting for the perfect mix of lighting style and efficient light delivery.

Low Glare Task Lighting

Create the higher task lighting level of light over work and counter tops without the glare that spotlights can cause, by dropping pendants with well hidden directional LED lamps inside. Ensure the light created is directional enough to ensure the light is taken to where it is needed over the task area. Drop the pendant to approx 32” or 800mm from the work top.

Check out How to Light a Kitchen to learn more about kitchen lighting design.

Use Track as Feature or Accent Lighting

Introduce a strong feature light by using a drop pendant from a track and use almost any pendant or shade from any manufacturer, by installing a kitchen track pendant adaptor to the end of the cable to fix into the track. 

Combine Styles

A benefit of using track lighting in a kitchen is the ability to combine architectural lighting products to deliver the required lighting levels and still use more decorative lighting all from the same source. Alternating spotlights with pendants can create a strong look as well and become a feature to the kitchen design.

Add a Complementary Finish

Choose a track lighting style and finish colour to compliment your choice of kitchen style and colour.  Consider the kitchen door choice or link with an appliance finish, maybe use a stainless steel track to accompany the fridge style. 

Harmonise With the Architecture

The surface your track is mounted on could lead you to choose a similar coloured product. When mounted on oak timber beams a bronze track light system is a natural choice and harmonises with the architecture. The lighting and structure blend to become a feature of the room.

Metallic Track Choices

Choose a metallic track lighting finish such as bronze or aged iron to emphasise an industrial aesthetic. Using a dominant and strong metal style and finish contributes to the industrial look so popular over recent years.

Track Ambient or General Lighting

Ambient Lighting (link) is a key ingredient to a successful kitchen lighting scheme and the track system can often play an important role in delivering the additional light this busy room needs to ensure the lighting levels are high enough. 

Cabled Track Lighting Systems

Suspended cable track systems allow lighting to be positioned into places otherwise impossible with fine tensile steel cabled system delivering light to small low voltage spotlights suspended in mid air. These spotlights contribute towards the ambient lighting levels otherwise dependant on accent lighting from tables and floor lights.

Modular Track Systems for Kitchens

Kitchen track lighting systems are modular allowing you to configurable the track into a variety of layouts. Use curved corners and straight lengths to create shapes to suit your kitchen layout, allowing you to create a lighting scheme that suits your kitchen plan and ensure the general lighting levels are high enough to suit all applications.

Modern Track Lighting

12v track lighting has been used in kitchens since the 1970’s, yet it still retains a modern aesthetic. Choose an LED track spotlighting combination as the upgraded version, retaining the versatility whilst increasing efficiencies and longevity of the products.

Plan Your Control of the Light

A basic track product will have a single circuit of power which will be dimmable if the correct lamps are used or an LED spotlight has the appropriate power supply. Always plan in the dimming of a kitchen track light to ensure the lighting levels can be reduced to become comfortable when the full illumination is not needed.

Modular track systems can offer the opportunity to use more than one circuit of light for the track spots or pendants added to the same line of track. This allows some spots to be on and others off or dimmed all from the same track, creating a more sophisticated level of choices for your kitchen’s lighting.

Planning a new kitchen lighting and need some help on more lighting choices, see our Buying Guide and Reviews to the Best Kitchen Lighting

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.