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​Top-notch kitchen lighting ideas

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Mr & Mrs Rose by Diane Berry Kitchens Modern
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We all know that the primary function of a kitchen is cooking (and baking). But we also know that times are changing, and that the modern kitchen is increasingly becoming one of the main socialising/entertaining spaces in a home; that’s why it’s being called “the heart of the home”. 

To ensure your kitchen is top-notch in terms of style and function, you require more than the right appliances and comfy furniture – lighting also plays a crucial role (as it does in any part of the house), for the right lighting can:  

• introduce several levels of brightness,  

• make small kitchens feel larger, and  

• dramatically alter the mood and feel of the space. 

Unfortunately, far too many of us leave the lighting stage of a kitchen for later, deeming wall sconces and ceiling pendants as afterthoughts. Well, experts (architects, kitchen planners, interior designers, etc.) all agree that the best time to decide on a new lighting scheme is at the planning stage, right as you’re signing off your kitchen drawings. 

But how do we go about ensuring that our kitchens’ lighting designs are perfect? By having a look at these kitchen lighting ideas, of course!

1. The types of lighting for a kitchen

Wickham Bishops, Witham Modern Kitchen by Kitchencraft Modern

Wickham Bishops, Witham


A kitchen with a proper lighting system needs to include all three types of lighting, which are: 

Task lighting: Fixtures placed where tasks/actions are performed, such as under-cupboard spots fitted directly above the hob, sink and chopping board to ensure bright, focused task lighting. To ensure this is done perfectly, position them as close to the front edge of the cupboard as possible, otherwise only the back of the worktop will be illuminated.

Ambient lighting: Commonly called ‘general lighting’, ambient lighting serves as the primary source of light in a room. Aside from the basic lighting functionality, the ambient lighting improves the sense of warmth and depth of a room. For enhanced ambient lighting, lights that are controlled separately are preferable, allowing you to create different moods at the flick of a switch. 

Feature and accent lighting: It is the responsibility of accent lighting to guide the eyes around the room’s points of interest. Imagine lights built into the kick boards of an island or a run of cabinet units – these give a gentle glow across the floor, making the cabinetry appear to be floating. And a strip of LED lights under the rim of a kitchen island worktop can create an inviting spot, especially with a few bar stools added.

2. Kitchen lighting ideas: Highlight a specific space

Want your kitchen’s dining area to stand out? A series of beautiful pendant lights or a fabulous single lamp shade above a dining table will accomplish that. 

In a large kitchen, your eating space can be highlighted (literally) with striking pendant lights. Hanging them low will allow the shades to take centre stage, but just ensure they’re high enough not to get in the way of conversation.

3. Kitchen lighting ideas: Add a statement chandelier

Grace by Mowlem&Co

Just because you cook and bake in a kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful focal point in it. And a stunning backsplash isn’t your only option. 

How about hanging an eye-catching chandelier (yes, they are not only for entryways or hallways)?  A glistening metal-and-crystal design can ensure quite the dramatic touch in a modern-style kitchen. Just ensure it hangs high enough (high ceilings are a plus) so as not to distract from your cabinetry, island, etc. 

homify hint: Get creative with your light sources. For example, incorporating lighting below an island unit will make it appear to float. In kitchens with high ceilings, try adding uplights to the tops of cabinets. It adds general light to the space, meaning you will require fewer downlights.

4. Kitchen lighting ideas: Keep your worktop open

When it comes to under-cupboard lighting, these are usually best for task lighting. The reason? It’s well hidden and stops your shadow obscuring the worktop. 

And thanks to ingenious lighting designers, the latest LED products have less heat output, which cuts costs plus prevents cupboards and food becoming too warm.

homify hint: A neat row of pendants dangling above a kitchen island not only provides great task lighting, but also defines the boundary between the kitchen’s working zone and the dining area. If at all possible, we recommend fitting a dimmer switch to lower light levels when entertaining. That softer glow can be just the key to change the mood and invite guests to have a seat.

5. Kitchen lighting ideas: Layer your lights

Large Classic Kitchen with Island by ADORNAS KITCHENS Classic Wood Wood effect

Large Classic Kitchen with Island


As mentioned, you need to include all types of lighting for your kitchen to work in terms of both style and function. With layered lighting, you can ensure a more ‘three-dimensional’ feel and set up the perfect mood that you wish to create in your kitchen. 

Each lighting source should be controlled individually (i.e. don’t let your ceiling downlighters and wall sconces be controlled by the same switch). This allows you more freedom when it comes to creating a mood, such as the feeling of bright daylight or an intimate atmosphere over dinner.

6. Kitchen lighting ideas: Use warm lights

Mr & Mrs A-C, Ottershaw by Raycross Interiors Modern
Raycross Interiors

Mr & Mrs A-C, Ottershaw

Raycross Interiors

One of the reasons for LEDs being so popular is that they help to cut electricity costs in the long run without sacrificing on light quality. The latest developments of LEDs means the most recent downlighters are only eight or 10W instead of 50W. Therefore, a large kitchen with 14 downlights and under-cupboard lighting can now be lit with a mere 200 watts.

To ensure your kitchen ends up with warm and inviting light, always check the packaging for a colour temperature of around 2,700 Kelvin and a CRI (Colour Rendition Index) over 90.

homify hint: LEDs can go almost anywhere with no danger of overheating or burning out. It’s not surprising anymore to see strips of LEDs below wall cupboards, lining the edges of islands and also inside drawers. But, as said before, always plan your light scheme at the start of the project – it makes it much easier to hide wiring and fittings later on.

7. Kitchen lighting ideas: Manipulate your space

Got a small kitchen or dining area? Increase the sense of space by using directional spotlights angled towards the cupboards and walls. This results in the lights being reflected back into the room and is much more effective than shining the light straight down at the floor.

8. Kitchen lighting ideas: Consider your cabinets’ insides

Hehku Cucina Range by Hehku Classic

Hehku Cucina Range


Glass-door cabinets can look striking (if kept clean and uncluttered), yet even more so when lighted internally. This makes the lighting fixtures become almost like wall lights, beautifully illuminating your collection of glasses and crockery. 

Seeking that extra touch in your culinary space? Don’t miss out on these 9 kitchen splashback ideas.

Modern Houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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