The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Lighting

The importance of a well-lit kitchen is not something that many people think about very often, which is a mistake. It has been proven that a bright, welcoming cooking environment will not only positively impact the quality of your dishes, but also the general atmosphere in and around the house.

In addition to the extra positivity you’ll bring to your home, some kitchen lights can look really cool and stylish if you know what you’re doing — there are a lot of aspects that go into the art of light placement and choosing the right shade and brightness.

Types of lighting

The placement of lights can make or break your kitchen’s functionality. In order to figure out how to strategically and effectively allocate the bulbs and lamps in your cooking space, you need to know the three types of kitchen lighting and their intended purposes.


This one is pretty straightforward — ambient lighting is basically the main source of light in the kitchen. Of course, this term can also be applied to any room in the house. It includes natural light, but also any other type of lighting that is used after sunset. They usually go in the ceiling and the general rule is to try to spread out the ambient lighting as evenly as possible around the room.


Task lighting is key when it comes to creating a safe and comfortable cooking environment. Its main function is to shine additional light at the parts of the kitchen where all the magic happens. That means brightening up the spots where you cut meat and chop vegetables, as well as the burners. Task lighting is a crucial part — it can be the decisive factor in preparing a meal, since if your view is obstructed, you can mess up the prep!


These are the real cherry on top of a cake. Accent lights are not really necessary for the proper functioning of your kitchen, but they add a really nice touch to the overall look and design of the room. If you’re having a hard time coming up with accent light ideas, think along the lines of kitchen plinth lights or cabinet lighting.

Floor plan and strategic lighting

One of the first things to do when changing up the lighting in your kitchen is considering the floor plan. Every home is different and every kitchen will have different ways to illuminate the area most effectively.

For example, if your kitchen is connected with your dining space or the living room, the best possible arrangement of lights will be different than if it’s located in a separate room. If you have a kitchen island, then it should be the focus of the ambient lighting — a good way to achieve that is to simply place a chandelier or integrated lighting directly over that space.

In case of a kitchen connected with a living room, your task of incorporating ambient lighting is all the easier, simply because most of the time, natural light coming in through the living room windows provides enough brightness to illuminate the kitchen during daytime (in addition to the kitchen windows, of course).

As for the task lighting, the simplest and most effective way to incorporate it into pretty much any kitchen layout is to have it placed underneath the upper cabinets, above the countertops — an LED bar will do the trick. It will ensure that all of the possible kitchen activities you will be partaking in are properly lit. This arrangement is one of the most preferred options because the lightbulbs are out of sight, providing a neat effect of light coming out from underneath your cabinets.

Accent lighting may seem trivial to most people, or even unnecessary. The truth is that if you want your kitchen to stand out and be the object of your guests’ compliments, you should absolutely invest in some accent lights. Their purpose is to subtly add a touch of class to the space, so remember not to overdo it!

One of the all-time favorites is adding accent lighting inside of cabinets with glass doors. Not is it convenient when you step into the kitchen in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, but it can also serve as a great display space for your collection of quirky mugs!

Finally, the “wow effect” can be achieved by illuminating the floor from beneath the cupboards. You will most likely not use it that often, but it is a cool little feature to show off in front of guests and a hit with the kids!

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels


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