Seeking thoughtful kitchen lighting ideas? The primary function of a kitchen may still be cooking, but it increasingly serves as one of the main entertaining spaces in the home – even a home office these days.

Despite its importance kitchen lighting can sometimes be the last consideration when it comes to designing a space, but for a kitchen to look and function well, every area must be lit properly. Experts agree that the best time to decide on a new lighting scheme is at the planning stage, as you’re signing off your kitchen drawings. Leave it until later, and it could become an afterthought, with limited possibilities.

The right lighting can totally transform the space. Helping to make small kitchens feel larger. With levels of brightness dramatically altering its mood and feel. It’s important to invest in a scheme that provides good task lighting, as well as creating the ideal ambience

Kitchen lighting ideas

A good kitchen lighting system needs at least two elements: bright, shadow-free, task light for safe cooking and preparation. Along with atmospheric illumination to create mood, highlight architectural features and make the room feel less functional.

1. Take control of your kitchen lighting scheme

Grey-kitchen-ideas-5View colours

Image credit: David Merewether

With so many different light sources at your disposal and with different functions to cater for, it is wise to consider a flexible control system rather than a simple on/off switch. If possible, make sure your lights are controlled separately so you can create different moods at the flick of a switch. To create mood lighting in relaxing zones, try wall lights and washers, which add a subtle form of background illumination. For high ceilings, uplighters on top of the kitchen cabinets will enhance the general light, while reducing the number of downlights you’ll need.

2. Illuminate under cabinets

‘Getting the lighting right in your kitchen can mean it can easily switch from home office to cooking haven and, on occasion, a dancefloor’ explains Chris Webb, Kitchen Category Manager at B&Q.

‘One design feature that has proved popular with our customers is integrated cabinet lighting, such as our Tasuke range. These lights replace the base of the wall cabinets and provide light inside and below the cabinet and use motion control to switch on and off – meaning there are no messy wires or unhygienic switches.’

3. Perfect your scheme with overhead pendant lights

Kitchen lighting ideasView colours

Image credit: David Parmiter

A series of beautiful pendant lights or a fabulous single statement piece above a dining table will help differentiate the dining space from the kitchen’s work zones. Styles range from old-school, industrial shapes in shiny, on-trend copper to striking ceramics in translucent hues. Hang pendants low over the table for a feeling of intimacy. Or position them high over kitchen islands. This not only provides a great source of light, it also adds interest, breaking up the austere lines of cabinets.

For added flexibility, try fitting pendants with a dimmer switch, so the island can function as a bright area for working, or a place to gather with friends with softer, low-level lighting.

4. Embrace alternative lighting designs

blue kitchenView colours

Image credit: Colin Poole

While pendant lights remain the more popular style choice for kitchens, there’s a growing trend for incorporating more statement lighting designs – ones which you’re more likely to find dressing living rooms. As open-plan kitchen spaces become more common place this fusion between decor styles opens up a world of possibility to have fun with statement chandeliers and Sputnik-style globe lights. Use the more statement style to act as a central light source, over dining areas and islands, while adding more directional task lighting via spotlights and downlighters over countertops and cooking areas.

5. Consider the mix of materials

grey kitchen View colours

Image credit: Martin Moore Kitchens

‘You need to take the style of your kitchen into consideration’ advises Richard Moore,  Design Director at Martin Moore. ‘A room with glazed cupboards, large windows, glass splashbacks etc. is the perfect setting for a traditional or contemporary chandelier to add real sparkle. At the other end of the spectrum, calm minimalist spaces require bold architectural lighting.’ Base your lightning choice to reflect the materials within your chosen kitchen surfaces.

6. Light up with LEDs

Black kitchen ideas with grey walls

Image credit: Davide Lovati

Offering a wealth of lighting opportunities, Light-Emmitting Diodes (LEDs) are frequently used in modern kitchen design. Their low heat emission makes them extremely energy efficient and ideal for areas that require little maintenance or are awkward to replace such as recessed ceiling lights or floor uplighters. LEDs are smaller and easier to conceal than fluorescents, won’t flicker when turned on and take no time at all warm up to full brightness. ‘LEDs are most certainly the future when it comes to lighting the kitchen,’ declares Michael Linsky, managing director of Sensio. ‘When compared to outdated alternatives they are more cost effective, because although the initial outlay may be higher, energy bills are reduced.’

7. Work from the ground up

Image credit: Magnet

Think about the whole room when considering lighting, floor to ceiling. Adding profile lighting to the bottom of kitchen cabinets or an island can serve purely to add ambience. But given how creating ambience is a key role of lighting in any room, this style of lighting goes a long way to transform the feel of a kitchen space..
‘If you want to really make a statement with your kitchen island, perhaps the boldest form of accent lighting is LED profile lighting,’ advises Hayley Simmons at Magnet. ‘Sitting below the worksurface, profile lighting brings bags of ambiance to a contemporary kitchen and is perfect for those that love to host and entertain.’

8. Take on task lighting

Kitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: James French

Under-cupboard spots fitted directly above the hob, sink and chopping board will ensure bright, focused task lighting; make sure you position them as close to the front edge of the cupboard as possible, otherwise you’ll illuminate the back of the worktop only. John Cullen Lighting recommends small, compact fluorescents or LED under-cupboard downlighters that are slim enough to be recessed into the bottom of overhead units. Flexible LED strip lighting mounted on the underside of cupboards is another option.

9. Think about heighKitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: Paul Raeside

The perfect height of lights depends on two factors: the height of the people living in the house and the height of the ceilings. Wall lights work well in a small kitchen, especially ones with little natural light. Give a modern kitchen an industrial twist with a stainless steel or brass light fixture.

10. Take your kitchen space into consideration

Kitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: British Standard Cupboards

Working in a kitchen with only a central light fitting means that you are standing with your back to the light and in your own shadow wherever you are in the room. A matt white ceiling and light coloured upper walls make any lighting system more effective by reflecting the light and spreading it more evenly, which also creates an illusion of space.