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Kitchen Lighting Design Guide

Kitchen Lighting Design Guide

Kitchen Lighting 


Lighting is an important part of any interior design scheme. Kitchen lighting is particularly important as it often needs to work in different ways throughout the day; from letting you see what you're doing whilst preparing food to setting the mood for relaxing during the evening. It's a good idea to consider the different types of lighting you'll need so that your kitchen can work in the way you want.

Kitchen Task Lighting

Task lighting is essential in the kitchen but often it's not not until people install a new lighting system that they realise how poorly lit the room previously was. Good task lighting makes a huge difference, letting people see everything in their workspace clearly and comfortably.

It's important to be careful in the kitchen, particularly when dealing with things like hot pans, sharp knives and raw meat. This includes being able to see exactly what you are doing. Bright and well directed task lighting helps with this.

Before installing task lighting, think about which areas of the kitchen will be used for cooking, food preparation and other jobs. Ceiling spotlights can be useful to illuminate work areas, whilst track lighting is also a good option and allows you to adjust the position and direction of light as required. Under cabinet lights are also great for keeping work surfaces well illuminated and mean you won't cast a shadow over your workspace as can often happen when the light is behind you.

ambient &mood lighting

In many homes the kitchen has overtaken the living and dining spaces as the main area to relax, socialise and entertain in. Because of this, it's important to think about ambient lighting that functions separately to bright task lighting, which can be too harsh for some occasions.

Softer mood lighting in the kitchen can transform the space into somewhere comfortable and enjoyable to spend time in the evening. It also provides an opportunity to introduce style and personality into the room.

Ambient lighting can be used around the kitchen to change the feel of the space, or as a design feature itself. From low level lighting around seating areas to set the mood whilst entertaining guests to LED systems that allow you to flood entire walls with an unlimited choice of colours - modern kitchen lighting solutions present some fantastic options for changing the feeling in the room at the touch of a button.

Kitchen dining area lighting

Dedicated lighting for the dining area in a kitchen helps to define the space and means that the table can be lit comfortably without needing to illuminate the whole room. Lights above dining tables should ideally be set up so that they can be controlled independently from other lights in the room, allowing you to set the mood whilst dining or entertaining.

If you have an island or breakfast bar in your kitchen, the lighting above it helps to tie the room together whilst enabling you to use the surface when you need it.

Lighting for the dining area can also be used as a design feature or focal point, with some great styles available. From classic chandeliers to modern LED pendants that work particularly well in contemporary kitchens, the choice of lighting for dining areas is huge and covers every taste.


Convenience lighting helps out in places where it would be handy to have an additional light source, such as inside drawers or cupboards. Often automated - switching on when you open a drawer and off when you close it for example - it helps you to locate those hard to find items more easily, and means that you don't always need to turn on the main lighting system if you go into the kitchen to quickly grab something out of a cupboard.

types of kitchen lighting to consider

pendant lighting

Pendant lights can be used as a design feature and are particularly effective above a dining or eating area. Multiple pendants look great used together above an island, or breakfast bar where they provide direct light to the work surfaces. They can also help to differentiate areas whilst joining the overall room scheme together.

track lighting

Track lighting systems provide a versatile solution that can be used for a range of purposes. Spotlights can be positioned in the most suitable place for task lighting, and some systems enable pendants and downlighters to be linked into the same set-up, and moved or adjusted as needed.

Recessed Spot Lighting

When recessed in the ceiling, spotlights can help to enhance a feeling of openness and space in the room. They are good as general lighting for traffic areas, however most will be fixed in position so will need to be carefully placed if intended to be used as task lighting.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Lighting mounted under kitchen wall cabinets helps to illuminate the worktops and lets you clearly see what you're doing. This can be made up of spotlights placed every so often, or strips of LEDs that run under the entire length of the cabinets.

plinth lighting

Running along the bottom of floor cabinets, plinth lighting is a design feature that adds interest to the room. Plinth lights can also be used to highlight islands or corners of units so they can clearly be seen when other lights are switched off, making them safer at night for guests unfamiliar with the layout of the kitchen.

table lighting

Table lamps offer a range of options in the kitchen as they are easy to switch on and off and move as needed. In traditional kitchens, table lamps are an ideal ambient light source when placed on dressers, free standing sideboards or low tables. They add another element and can help make an area for relaxing feel more cosy in the evening.

wall lighting

Wall lights help to layer the lighting scheme in the kitchen and can be used as a background source to add ambience to the room, particularly if they are dimmable. Wall lighting can also help to define spaces such as walkways and seating areas.

plan kitchen lighting carefully

Good kitchen lighting should be both functional and beautiful. It's important to carefully plan the lighting before beginning any project as wiring and installation will often need to be completed before other parts of the kitchen are installed.

If you are planning a full overhaul of your kitchen, remember to allocate sufficient budget to the lighting. As a rule of thumb, in a good quality kitchen project the budget for lighting should be similar to the budget for flooring (although you may wish to deviate from this depending on your choices). Most people are keen to select beautiful new door fronts and worktops, but lighting really can make or break not only the look of the room but how well it works.

An important consideration if you are going down the DIY route: Ensure you are familiar with any building or wiring regulations that may apply to the lighting or electrical systems in your kitchen and consult a qualified professional where necessary.

Speak to your kitchen designer about your ideas when you are at the initial planning stage of your project; a good designer will be able to offer valuable advice about the different types of lighting available.

Published on Friday, 15th January am 10:24am