5 Great Ideas For Lighting a Kitchen

When trying to plan for a new kitchen lighting system, the process requires more than just choosing the kinds of lights you will use. Besides knowing the light fixtures you plan to incorporate, you should have a plan for how to intend to use them. Below, we offer a few tips on how to light various areas of your kitchen to give you the results you are most satisfied with.

General Advice for Lighting a Kitchen

Consider the three types of lighting.

This includes ambient, task and accent lighting:

  • Ambient lighting is the main source of light. It is used to shine as much light as possible across the space, usually from kitchen ceiling lights. This is often achieved by the use of ceiling downlights, surface mounted downlights, hanging pendant lights or recessed lighting.
  • Task lighting takes care of any areas in the kitchen where ambient lighting doesn’t reach and leaves shadows. Using task lighting such as breakfast area pendant lights, kitchen island pendant lights and cabinetry lights, you can wipe away those shadows and make it easier to perform tasks there.
  • Accent lighting adds a finishing touch that makes the kitchen stand out. These come in the form of island lighting, kitchen kickboard lights or other LED plinth lights, kitchen wall lights and beyond.

Take advantage of high ceilings.

Hanging pendant lights and other eye-catching kitchen ceiling lights can turn all of that empty space created by high ceilings into a masterpiece. Pendant lights will make the space feel even larger than it already is and add style to it as well. Keep the pendants equally distanced from one another to give off the appearance of satisfying symmetry as well.

Consider spotlights.

The main source of illumination in a kitchen will usually be the ambient ceiling lights. You can give your kitchen a cleaner, more contemporary feel by using spotlights that direct light on the walls, work areas and breakfast bar.

Recessed downlights over the breakfast area.

One of the most modern ways to light any space, including a kitchen, is to use recessed lights. Because most of these downlights are hidden in the ceiling, they offer a cleaner look that is less invasive to the rest of the space.

Try out wall lights.

Wall lights not only add extra illumination to your kitchen, but they also add style. Kitchen wall lights are especially well suited when you need kitchen lighting near a surface but not on top of it, so you can keep the area clear but well illuminated.

Layer the light.

Using a combination of task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting, you can create layered illumination. This will make the room seem better lit without any dark shadows and will give it a nice flow. Task lighting can be included in the form of spotlights or downlights near the breakfast bar or countertops. You could also use under cabinet lighting or lighting in range hoods over the cooktop or stove for this purpose. Ambient lighting will be the overhead lights that make the kitchen easier to navigate overall, while accent lighting can be achieved through decorative pendants or wall lights.

Modern kitchen interior design in black and white style

How To Light a Kitchen Island

The lighting you will choose for your kitchen island will depend on the design of the island itself; an island that has an integrated workspace or cooktop will require different lighting than islands designed more as a dining area. For islands that are task oriented, such as for reading recipes or preparing food, you could mix hanging pendant lights and recessed lights. For ambient areas that are more for counter seating than anything else, using mini pendants tends to work just fine. Place the pendants at least 30 to 32 inches from one another and at least 30 inches above the island for best results.

Outside of those general rules of thumb, there are a few things to consider when lighting your kitchen:

Size of the island. This is one of the largest determining factors in lighting the island. A general rule is that you should have 30 to 50 lumens of light per square foot over the top of the island. For instance, if your island is five feet by three feet, you will need between 535 and 750 lumens of light to cover that 15 square foot space.

Different lighting types. There are two main light styles that homeowners prefer when lighting a kitchen island, including: 

  • Pendant Lighting

Pendant lights are the most versatile and arguably the most popular type of kitchen island lighting. You can adjust the height of the lights to suit your space and are not limited to a certain number of lights like you are with a chandelier. You can use smaller pendant lights lining the island or two larger ones to make a statement.

  • Recessed Lighting

If you want to make the space look cleaner, recessed LED lighting is always a good option. Space out the recessed lights in a way that will provide plenty of light throughout the entire kitchen. Smaller recessed lights over the island specifically will shine more dedicated light on the island itself, making them good for task lighting.

Use a dimmer. Many LED lights are dimmable or can be made dimmable by using a dimmer. With a dimmable light, you can control the level of light that is output throughout the day and night, so you can control the overall mood and atmosphere of the space.

Consider ambient lighting from the ground up. Using LED plinth lights around the island can create a more modern appearance and a well-lit kitchen. Accent lighting beneath the island will add yet another layer of lighting to give the kitchen a more complete appearance. 

How To Light Kitchen Kick Plates for Stunning Effect Lighting

Plinth lights, otherwise known as kickplate lights, sit along the bottom of islands and cabinets. They shine light onto the floor and provide a nice ambience when they are lit. Many people prefer these lights for their decorative effects and their ability to set a nice mood, but they also enhance the safety of the room. Having these lights can make it easier to navigate the kitchen in the dark.

Installing these lights is a fairly simple process. You’ll need the right tools, such as a tape measure, a level and a trap for sawdust. Then, just drill the necessary holes evenly along the bottom of the kitchen island or cabinet. Start from the middle and move outward to ensure proper spacing. Then, you can install the lights in these holes and connect them to the lighting source. You can choose to add a timer and set the lights to turn on and off at specific points of the day once they are installed.

Use Kickplate Lights Under Islands and Cabinets  

You can add kickplate lights to accent the space at the base of an island or the perimeter cabinets and improve the overall safety in the room at the same time.

Choose from Different Sizes and Shapes

While most kick lights are small, they come in different shapes. Square and circular lights tend to be the most popular. Choose the shape that best suits your space and even play around with colours and colour temperatures to make the lights stand out where they are placed.

modern kitchen with led illuminated plinth, wooden floor and black ceiling

How To Use LED Downlights in a Kitchen and How To Plan the Layout

To begin planning, you will need to think about which lights you want to shine straight down. This includes lights over cooktops, sinks or decorations. Angled lights, such as the ones pointing at shelves, pictures on a wall or cupboards, will also need to be planned out. Figure out where you want them to go and what you want these downlights to shine on and factor these positions into your plan.

After knowing the general location of the lights, you can plan out how to space them. You’ll need to consider facts like the kind of space you’re illuminating, keeping in mind that kitchens tend to need about 300 lumens of light. Spacing the lights to shine this amount over the entire kitchen will not only help ensure proper lighting throughout but will ensure the appearance of the lights is uniform and visually appealing.

Then, you can consider the styles of fixtures you want to add. LED pendant lights are popular, especially over breakfast bar areas, but those are not the only options available. You could also choose recessed lighting that gives the space a more modern feel and is less intrusive. Afterwards, you will need to plan for the kind of bulbs you want to use in those fixtures. This includes everything from whether or not they are dimmable to the colour temperature of the bulbs themselves.

What Colour of Light Is Best to Use For Kitchen lighting

When deciding what type of bulbs you want to use, you should pay attention to the light colour output by the LED pendant lights. There are two main categories of LED lights: cool and warm. These are measured in units Kelvin. The lower the Kelvin rating, the warmer the light, whereas the higher the rating, the cooler the light will be. A higher rating also tends to show the colours of the items in your home more accurately. This means that lower ratings may dull the color of your cabinets and walls.

For example, take a look at some of the most popular lighting colours in kitchens:

  • 5000k lighting is a bluish-white light that mimics daylight and is good for task lighting in areas where you’re reading recipes or preparing food.
  • 4000K lighting offers plentiful visibility without being too cool while still being bright and crisp.
  • 3200k is warm white lighting that is gentler and softer and tends to provide a cosy feel.

LED kitchen lighting in warm colours is often best. This is because warm colours provide enough light to see while still being easy on the eyes and pleasant to be around. Some homeowners choose to add LED lighting in cool colours instead, wanting to bring a daylight style feel to their space. Either one is fine and depends on preference. That said, it is best not to mix and match warm and cool colour lighting, as this can create a rather jarring effect. Instead, find warm lights within a similar range and go from there.

You should also consider the brightness that you want to have in the room. Smaller kitchens will need fewer lumens, but darker walls, cabinets and counters will look better with higher amounts of lumens. Lights furthest from the middle of the room will also require higher lumens to prevent shadows. Accent lighting like task lights can usually get away with having lower lumen levels as well.

Below are a few specific light fixtures for your consideration:


  1. LPL142A 20 Watt Black LED Pendant Ceiling Light

LPL142A LED pendant light - long pendant light

The LPL142A 20 Watt Black LED Pendant Ceiling Light is a good choice for providing task and accent lighting for those who appreciate modern industrial styles above all. It shines 2000 lumens of warm 3000k white colour that is great for warming up an area. With its 1000 millimeter drop cable, you can adjust its height according to your space. This makes it especially ideal for kitchen islands and breakfast areas. The black finish is easy to incorporate into any colour of decor you may have in your space.


  1. LPL350 4 Watt Beech Wood LED Pendant Light

LPL350 4 watt beech wood LED pendant lightThis LPL350 4 Watt Beech Wood LED Pendant Light has an exposed round filament-style bulb that sits beneath the wooden circular fixture. This brings modern flair to mid-century styles and is great for spaces that could benefit from a little vintage personality. Its vibrant red cable adds a dash of contemporary colour to the otherwise earthy and neutral appearance of the light. It can be added in groups above kitchen islands or other task-based areas and shines 400 lumens of 3000k warm white light.


  1. LDC880 Kit Of 9 X 1 Watt LED Plinth Lights

LDC880 kit of 1 watt LED kitchen plinth lights

Make your kitchen cabinets and island areas stand out with the LDC880 Kit Of 9 X 1 Watt LED Plinth Lights along the base of them. This light comes in various colour finishes but all share commonalities: each outputs 122 lumens of light and has a pleasant 3000k warm white light. Because of the small size, you can install one or space out as many as you need to fit the size and appearance of your unique island or cabinet area.


  1. CSL022 5 Watt Round Recessed LED Downlight Fitting

CSL022 round recessed 5 watt LED down lights

Recessed lighting such as the CSL022 5 Watt Round Recessed LED Downlight Fitting makes excellent task lighting. The light is perfect to install over a breakfast bar or anywhere else that you cook, relax or look at recipes. It comes in various finishes that can suit the appearance of any kitchen’s color scheme and each shines 430 lumens of 3000k warm white light. You could also space them evenly across the kitchen to create your ambient lighting.


  1. LBL253B 15 Watt Hexagonal Surface Mounted LED Downlight

LBL253B 15 watt surface mounted LED downlight - Hexagonal LED downlight ceiling light

If you really want to make your kitchen stand out as modern and artistic, the LBL253B 15 Watt Hexagonal Surface Mounted LED Downlight is a great choice. The light is surface mounted and serves a similar purpose as recessed lighting but is best for kitchens with ceilings that cannot accommodate those recessed fixtures. The light has a bold geometric honeycomb shape that adds contemporary flair to the space and is offered in agreeable neutral colours of black, white or silver. The light shines a total of 1200 lumens of 3000k warm white light.

Final Thoughts

The kitchen is an area that you and your family likely spend more time in than you realize. From eating your meals to cooking various dishes and spending time as a family, the kitchen is a busy room that deserves proper lighting like any other space in the house. In this article, we offered a few tips on how to create beautiful kitchen lighting. We also included various kitchen lights such as LED downlights, plinth lighting and other illumination to kick-start your planning and give you some ideas.

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