If you're looking for beautiful kitchen lighting ideas to brighten up your space like never before, then you are in the right place. Here we have brought together practical kitchen lighting advice and lovely kitchen lighting ideas so you can get both spot on. Whether you’re designing a new kitchen from scratch, fitting an extension, or revamping an existing room, thoroughly planning your kitchen lighting scheme can make a huge difference to the feel of a space, as well as it's functionality.
We have gone through all the bases here so keep scrolling to find loads of inspiring images and kitchen light ideas, as well as all the practical advice and tips that you need. If you want even more in-depth kitchen ideas and advice, make sure you check out our feature.
- If it's kitchen design advice specifically you are after then we have an in-depth article you will definitely find useful.
1. Choose the right kitchen lighting combination
We recommend focusing on the three types of kitchen lighting – practical task, general background light, and accent lighting – when you’re planning your kitchen lighting scheme.
Don’t forget to factor in both budget for the fittings themselves and, for most lighting, for an electrician either employed by you or your builder or kitchen supplier if they’re not part of any price you’ve been given.
2. Think about how you use your kitchen to get the right kitchen lighting ideas
Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen perhaps sees the most varied activities, and if it's combined with a dining and living space, the most action, too.
Pay attention to how you use each part of the space to decide which kitchen lights you need where – especially look out for spaces you use a lot and will need plenty of kitchen task lighting. The overall look of your kitchen lighting should complement the kitchen’s style, and by considering how you use each kitchen zone, you’ll begin to see why getting the right kitchen lighting in the right places can really help make this space a success, whether you have an industrial style kitchen, a modern kitchen, or a traditional kitchen.
3. Remember to consider natural light in your kitchen
Working out orientation and how much natural light your room gets will help inform you kitchen lighting planning process. For example, north-facing rooms are likely to be light-starved; east-facing rooms will get little light in the afternoons; while south- and west-facing kitchens are likely to be naturally bright well into the late afternoon.
Think about natural dark spots, too. For example, if you’re planning a kitchen extension, the area in the deepest part of the extension will lack natural light, and might need lighting during the day.
However, it's worth talking to your architect first about improving light levels with glazing, bi-fold doors and rooflights, keeping in mind the location where in the kitchen they would work best before you start planning the lighting scheme.
Ceiling heights will affect the room's natural light levels, as well as the surfaces you're planning on installing in the kitchen – light-coloured kitchen cabinets, kitchen flooring, worktops, kitchen paint colours and high-gloss finishes will all bounce light around and lessen the need for artificial lighting.
For more advice on how to plan and design your kitchen extension, take a look at comprehensive guide.
4. Work out the best position for kitchen lighting fittings
Working out the exact position of your kitchen units and furniture is a must. Rebecca Hutchison of John Cullen Lighting explains: 'You’ll want lights over worktops and not walkways. If you’re planning a kitchen diner, you don’t want the dining table where there isn’t going to be any light. You need to know the height of your units too and whether you’re going to want to light these spaces from above.'
Working this way will also help you pinpoint where your light switches will be; if yours is an open plan kitchen diner and living space, you may want lighting controls at both ends of the room.
5. Highlight your kitchen island with plinth lighting
Plinth lighting can be subtly concealed beneath a substantially sized kitchen island to create an almost floating effect. In this kitchen lighting idea, illumination also shows off the stylish parquet flooring. Like the idea of a kitchen island? You'll find plenty of inspiration with our clever kitchen island design ideas.
6. Choose eye-catching kitchen lighting over an island
Looking for kitchen lighting ideas that are a feature in themselves? Pendant lighting above a kitchen island draws attention to the feature, and can create a pool of light when it – or a portion of it as here – doubles as a breakfast bar or dining area.
7. Add in plenty of kitchen task lighting
Kitchen lighting ideas – and task lighting in particular – needn’t be dull just because they're functional. In this room, white SEKOND cord sets and RYET lightbulbs all Ikea, stand out against the dark tones of the wall to illuminate the worktops and splashbacks and add to the moody aesthetic of the room.
If you love this kitchen splashback idea, there are plenty more in our inspiring gallery.
8. Light your kitchen cabinetry
Under-cabinet lighting isn’t just a practical feature to illuminate worktops. Position it at plinth level and it will sweep light on to the floor, plus create an attractive punctuation point between solid surfaces.
9. Highlight the dining table with kitchen lighting
We'd recommend planning kitchen lighting that works on a separate circuit over a dining table, so you can move attention to the meal you’ve created, and dim preparation area lights so pots and pans aren’t a distraction.
We love this kitchen light idea which mismatches geometric pendant lights from Pooky.
10. Light the inside of kitchen cabinets
Lighting up cabinets is not only a practical kitchen light idea but they can also turn them into an interesting focal point with in the space. If you have glass cabinets, fill them with your favourite glassware and crockery or why not pinch this idea and light up a (well organised) pantry.
11. Brighten shelving with clever kitchen lighting
If you are after super practical kitchen lighting ideas, this is one to copy. Strip lights along the edge of shelves will make more of tableware and condiments on display – or use them to brighten drawers and gloomy cupboard interiors.
These 3W LED strip lights by Markslojd, £22.99 each, Lighting Direct can be installed without the need for an electrician.
12. Make a feature of a splashback with kitchen lighting
The gorgeous splashback is a highlight of this kitchen, and downlights make it shine much more brilliantly than it would in daylight alone, showing off the texture, too.
13. Get on trend with dark kitchen task lighting
Feel like experimenting with the dark and atmospheric decorating trend that's becoming so popular lately? The good news is, a kitchen is a great space in the home to try out dark, since these rooms tend to have plenty of natural light to balance out the dark colours. A dark pendant light is a great way to create a graphic contrast in your dining space – and if you find that it doesn't work after all, pendants are easy to replace.
14. Go for uniformity with your kitchen lighting layout
These matching industrial style pendant lights make this kitchen space pop. The placement is ideal to illuminate the kitchen island when in use and the choice of off-white shades really complements the rest of the decor.
15. Or mix and match kitchen pendant lights
This is a very easy and effective way to add interest using kitchen lighting. Whether your shades are a different shape, colour, texture or simply hung at different lengths from the ceiling, go with what you feel and the room's energetic ambiance will be transformed.
16. Max out natural daylight
Where you can, you should think about how much of the natural light available to your kitchen can be put to good use. These bi-fold doors allow light to flood in to this kitchen extension, reducing the need for artificial light during the day.
17. Be bold with bulbs
You don't always have to use shades in an open area of your kitchen and we love this kitchen lighting idea that uses a mobile lighting fixture, complete with exposed bulbs. It's modern and classy yet a bit edgy and works especially well in this all white colour scheme.
18. Dress it up with copper kitchen lights
Adding shine via your kitchen lighting is a surefire way to add character to your space. Hi-shine copper, teamed with the abstract pendant shape adds something really special to this kitchen above.
19. Go for all white kitchen lights
What a way to brighten up a breakfast bar. White kitchen lights will lift the light levels in all kinds of spaces and these three pendants above sure brighten this area of the kitchen – helping to marry the other parts of the colour scheme together also.
- For more of the best kitchen lighting check out our round up.
Kitchen lighting design tips
Best places to buy kitchen lighting
- Don’t put lights too close to cabinetry as if you have low ceilings, the glare from the lights could discolour the veneer.
- If you have low ceilings, you will need fewer downlights; too many and the light will be overpowering.
- Use spotlights on dimmer switches so you can easily control light levels.
- Include mood and task lighting in a scheme so that when you’ve finished cooking you can turn the bright lights down and have accents more suited to a sociable eating environment – not bright or harsh lighting.
- Ensure light switches are compatible with the style of your kitchen.
Layer practical task and atmospheric mood lighting
Including different layers of light in your scheme will give you the best of all worlds: a kitchen that functions brilliantly, but one that looks good or that you can quickly conjure an atmosphere in, too.
Task lighting is purely practical and should be designed to allow you to prep and cook safely, and perhaps use an area of the room for reading or homework. Task lighting might be ceiling downlights and under-unit lights, well placed above worktops in order to illuminate task areas.
Accent lighting is used to highlight of softly light elements of the kitchen. So, if you’re including a kitchen island or dining table, pendants both as a focal point and to focus a soft glow on the table will do the trick (hang pendants in odd numbers – they look better). Similarly, LED strips under breakfast bars, beneath 'floating' kitchen islands, over wall units or illuminating shelves within cabinets can provide accent lighting, highlighting these features while contributing a warm backlight to create atmosphere in the evening.
Ambient lighting – in other words, general background light – can be provided by wall and table lights, but also by your main task lighting if it's controlled by dimmer switches.
Put kitchen lighting on separate, zoned circuits
No kitchen lighting scheme will look its best controlled by one switch – putting your kitchen lighting on different circuits is a must. Here's what to consider:
How many circuits? An average kitchen will need three circuits: one for downlights; one for pendants; and one for under-unit lights, for example.
How many zones? An open plan kitchen/living/dining space will need more circuits, because you should treat each zone's lighting individually.
Which lights when? How will you use the space and what lights do you want switched on at the same time? For example, it makes sense to have the kitchen on separate circuits to the living/dining space, so that you don't have to look at the washing up while you're relaxing.
How bright should kitchen lights be?
Planning a successful lighting scheme is also about getting the light colour/quality right, too. This is somewhat subjective, but you should choose bulbs that not only flatter the space but make it feel welcoming, too.
Light colour can impact dramatically on your scheme. Take, LEDs, for instance: their colour temperature is measured in kelvins (or K) — daylight measures around 6,000-6,500 kelvins; candlelight comes in at around 1,800 kelvins. While you may want your LEDs to give off cool white light above worktops, warm white is much more relaxing for dining or living areas.
'The most versatile colour for kitchen lighting is 2,700 kelvins, which gives off a slightly warm light that is creamy enough to have on during the day but is still a comfortable warm light for evenings,' continues Rebecca Hutchison. 'For lights within shelving units, you would most likely have these on of an evening for atmosphere and so you’d more than likely select strips with extra warmth and go for 2,400 kelvins.'
Are LED lights good for kitchens?
LEDs are most certainly the way forward when it comes to lighting. In comparison to outdated halogen bulbs, they’re a far more cost effective and eco-friendly solution. The low wattage of LED lights means that energy consumption is reduced, and they also last longer. LEDs will last for up to 40,000 hours compared to the 3,000 hour lifespan of halogens.
Get the right amount of lighting in your kitchen
How to get the balance right? A good electrician will advise on how many downlights you'll need but, as a guide, an average-sized kitchen, at around 4m x 4m, would need six.
Designing a kitchen on a budget? Track or monorail lighting can be a cost-effective alternative as you can position lights on the track to target the key areas you want to light.
Who can install kitchen lighting?
Your builder: if you're planning a kitchen extension, it's likely your builder will bring in an electrician to carry out the lighting work alongside the first fix of other electrical fittings, although you may want to engage a lighting designer to oversee the planning at the very least.
Your kitchen supplier: if it's a case of installing a new kitchen into an existing room, your kitchen company may offer a lighting design service as part of the package or as an added extra. 'For elements such as in-cabinet lighting, it very much depends on how you brief your kitchen supplier as to who is responsible for installing this,' advises Rebecca Hutchison of John Cullen Lighting. 'Bear in mind, though, that if this is provided and installed by your kitchen supplier, you might not have the same colour of light as the rest of the lighting in the room — whereas if you specify all of your lighting from the same place then the warmth and brightness will be consistent and you’ll end up with a better result.'
Your electrician: if you're fitting lighting retrospectively or are project managing your kitchen renovation yourself, your electrician can do the work.
You: if you're fitting your own kitchen, you can take on some of the work yourself (for instance, chasing out walls), but only if your electrician is happy to sign it off. Be aware of what you can and can’t do: Part P of the Building Regulations legislates for DIY electrical work and states that if a job is ‘notifiable’ – such as adding a new circuit or replacing a consumer unit – it either needs to be carried out or certified by a registered competent person, such as a NICEIC member, or inspected by building control.