Kitchen ceiling lighting ideas: 12 looks to illuminate your space from up above

The best kitchen ceiling lighting ideas go far beyond pendants to illuminate your space. Combine style and function with stunning designs for ceilings high and low.

white kitchen with blue kitchen island, wicker pendant light, shiplap ceiling, wall lights, dark wooden floor, rug
(Image credit: Caroline Brackett/Emily Bolt Photography )

We’d be pretty stuck without kitchen ceiling lighting – it’s essential to have those key task lights perfectly positioned so that we can prep food one minute and entertain the other. When it comes to choosing the best kitchen ceiling lighting ideas for your space, you need to ensure they work with the rest of your kitchen lighting design scheme and be visually in proportion with your space also. 

Changing your lighting is also a great way to update your kitchen – we’re all for easy revamps without breaking the bank. As well as providing task light, kitchen pendants, spots and more can be used to highlight key features and set the scene. 

Kitchen ceiling lighting ideas to light up big and small spaces

Whether you need to install lighting on a low kitchen ceiling or to illuminate your cooking space from way up above, there are lots of different options. More often than not it's about combining a few different types of lighting for the most successful finish. 

‘Lighting schemes are an essential part of kitchen planning as there is nothing worse than a dimly lit work area. Position spots directly above key areas to ensure the light isn’t blocked while you stand at the sink, hob or work top. Consider the balance between task and mood lighting, using dimmer switches on your main lights can also help create a glow in the evening – perfect for entertaining,’ says Melissa Kink, head of design at Harvey Jones

1. Choose a single ceramic pendant for a small island

pink kitchen with kitchen island/breakfast bar, ceiling light, pantry, wicker bar stools

(Image credit: Garden Trading )

You don’t need a whole run of kitchen ceiling lighting if your space is small, in fact, one key light may suffice. This ceramic design is stylish yet subtle and easily large enough to make a brilliant kitchen island lighting option. The matt finish goes well with the painted units and accessories, while that taupe hue rounds off the color scheme perfectly.

2. Set off a dark kitchen with glass pendants

dark blue kitchen with kitchen island, cabinetry, herringbone floor, glass ceiling lights

(Image credit: Kitchen Makers )

When the scheme is dark or if you have a completely black kitchen it can be hard to choose kitchen ceiling lighting that will stand out. Glass designs with fluted detailing will work perfectly as they allow the light to flow through them whilst not detracting from the overall dramatic scheme. Brass fittings add warmth and can be used to tie in with the faucet and cabinet handles.

3. Add dazzle with an art deco style pendant

white and grey kitchen with gold chandelier, tiled floor, artwork

(Image credit: Pooky)

There’s nothing more luxurious than a spot of sparkly gold and glass. If you’re big on entertaining, a glamorous design is the perfect option to create a statement focal point – the kitchen is the place to be at parties or so they say.

Note that in this kitchen the design is fluted and the accessories are too, these small details make all the difference. This design hangs fairly low which makes even more of a design statement.

4. Play with shapes and pick two tone orbs

white kitchen with marble countertop on island, two orb lights, brass faucet, open plan shelving, dining table, herringbone floor, cabinet

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Consider the shapes present in your kitchen decor scheme and choose ceiling lighting accordingly. You'll mostly find angular forms in this space, what with kitchen islands and cabinets, so nodding to more balance via round kitchen ceiling lights can be a great way to soften the overall finish.

In this instance, the large orbs complete with black top halves, brass detail and white opaque lower halves create a bold design feature above the large kitchen island, with all its harsh edges, creating a distinguished and cohesive area.

5. Warm up white walls with rattan 

white kitchen with blue kitchen island, wicker pendant light, shiplap ceiling, wall lights, dark wooden floor, rug

(Image credit: Caroline Brackett/Emily Bolt Photography )

A single pendant made from on-trend rattan can be all you need to create a striking focal point in an a mostly white kitchen. It adds a natural element and texture against the smoothness of the cabinetry, the key is to choose a design that's large enough to work, and not look too small. 

Secondary lighting above the sink can add extra illumination. Here the trio of wall sconces is subtle so as not to take away from the central pendant.

6. Install a long row of spotlights in narrow spaces

teal kitchen with tiles on side of kitchen island, teal bar stools, copper cabinetry, spotlights

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

An alternative to individual ceiling lights is to hang a row of spotlights in your kitchen, if you're working with a narrow galley kitchen or even a long, sleek island.

Spotlights that can be adjusted are a dream – they’ll enable you to move each one so you can illuminate each area individually.

7. Hang kitchen ceiling lighting in odd numbers

open plan kitchen with marble kitchen island, dark wooden floor, dark blue units, open plan shelving, dining table, view outside

(Image credit: Interior Fox/Veronica Rodriguez)

Yes, you heard that right – interior stylists always group things together in odd numbers. Three hanging kitchen ceiling lights above a good sized breakfast bar will look spot on. 

We love these irregular shaped bulb lights, they’re different to the usual exposed bulb designs and they link visually to the gold interior of the breakfast bar. 

8. Make a statement with a pair of chandeliers

white and grey kitchen with marble countertops, two chandeliers, bar stools, herringbone floor

(Image credit: Think Chic Interiors)

If you're lighting a modern kitchen space with high ceilings, chandeliers can fit the bill. Make it a duo for more design interest. 

Malka Helft, founder of Think Chic Interiors comments: 'I love nothing more than adding statement lighting throughout various, even unexpected rooms and spaces, in my projects. My best rules of thumb are to choose distinct chandeliers for the room you’re working in- if you have a more traditional one in a dining room but it makes sense to go more modern in your entry way, then don’t be afraid to mix and match. I also think scale is important,'

9. Hang small and discreet designs just above eye level

grey kitchen with purple painted freestanding kitchen island, pendant lighting, AGA, artwork

(Image credit: Pooky)

Sometimes we want our kitchen ceiling lighting to be more practical than focal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look great too, it’s all about proportions. This subtle lighting has a delicate feel to it, it’s easy on the eye and is by no means dramatic, which is why it suits this kitchen so well. Positioning is key also – this design is perfectly hung to sit in the middle of the cooker hood and just above eye level, so that it's never out of the picture but also not intrusive. 

10. Enhance a monochromatic scheme with a stand out shape

white kitchen with black pendant lights, grey kitchen island, dark wooden floor

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

If your existing kitchen is mostly white but you fancy turning it into a monochromatic scheme, then choose jet black pendants. Now, the key here is to pick an interesting shape – because essentially you’ve got the beautiful white blank canvas that will ensure they stand out. These curvy designs are ideal and give this kitchen a contemporary look.

11. Illuminate your working areas with a loose cord pendant

blue kitchen with glass pendant over the sink, herbs hanging on wall, light wood flooring, glass fronted cabinet

(Image credit: Ikea )

Kitchen islands get the monopoly on ceiling lights generally, mainly because they are the hub of the kitchen, but don’t neglect other key areas like the basin. 

Another area that needs light is your sink and countertops, hang a light above these key spaces to ensu e that even on the darkest evening you can safely see what you’re doing. We love a fabric corded pendant, loosely hung across the ceiling for a relaxed yet styled look.

12. Choose a single bar LED light to complement beams

grey modern kitchen with wooden island, grey cabinets,

(Image credit: Detail Lighting )

Sleek and streamlined, an LED bar light could be just the thing if you want your kitchen ceiling lighting to blend into your scheme rather than be a dramatic focal point. If you have a beamed ceiling, the similar shapes can work wonders on the overall finish. It creates a cohesive look and the light looks rather like it’s floating above the island and is less obtrusive visually than some other designs. 

How do you light a kitchen ceiling?

Maggie Clarke, interior stylist and designer at Maggie Clarke Interiors comments: 'When we get a kitchen renovation or remodel project, in terms of lighting we always start with overhead fixture lighting. In a kitchen, that's usually two pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula. Alternatively, if you have a galley kitchen or a kitchen sans an island, you could go with a linear or standard chandelier or semi-flush mount. Installing a fixture in the kitchen is a tad bit unexpected, which is what Maggie Clarke Interiors is all about.

From there, we focus on the layout of round, recessed ceiling lighting so the homeowner has a well lit and evenly illuminated space while they're prepping and cooking. We take the ceiling height of the room and divide it by two. That's usually how far apart each recessed light should be spaced. You want to start with a focal point (such as your pendant lights) and work from there. 

To add an extra layer of coziness, add wall sconces and / or under cabinet lighting. Having light at several different levels is key to great kitchen design’.

What is the best lighting for a kitchen ceiling? 

Priscilla Moiseoff, lead stylist and designer at Walker Edison Furniture says, 'There are two main types of lighting in a kitchen, task lighting and ambient lighting. Ambient lighting is intended to give as much light as evenly as possible to the whole room. Task lighting is more concentrated lighting that is intended to illuminate a specific area where you will be performing a task. You’ll probably want a combination of both. If your “workspace” is mostly on side counters then you’ll want your ceiling lights to be ambient focused with task lights over the counters.'

'If you have a kitchen island then the lighting you choose will depend on how you intend to use that island. If its primary use will be for socializing and eating, then you’ll want ambient lights over the island. If its primary use will be for food prep, then you’ll want to opt for task lighting. 

Ambient lights are usually in the form of chandeliers, recessed lights, and pendant lights. Task lights are usually in the form of strip lights and puck lights,’

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 18 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time. On the side, as well as being the News Editor of indie magazine, 91, Sophie has a passion for flowers and colour and has recently launched an online styling course, Style with Blooms.

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