Discover how to plan the perfect kitchen lighting scheme and set the mood for dining, cooking and even entertaining.

Its possible to transform an ordinary kitchen into a spectacular kitchen by choosing the right kitchen lighting. Most modern kitchens are multi-functional. They get used for cooking, dining, homework and even entertaining.

You can also use kitchen lighting techniques to hide a multitude of sins. For example, cleverly positioned lighting can disguise awkward architecture or brighten up the room if there is not enough natural light. It’s also possible to make a small kitchen appear larger with the use of kitchen lighting.

The following steps will make sure you get your kitchen lighting right the first time around.

How to plan your kitchen lighting

Pendant Light above dining table

When you are in the early stages of planning your new kitchen, this is the best time to install a new kitchen lighting scheme. If you don’t include a kitchen lighting scheme early on, it will become much more difficult to implement in the future with limited possibilities.

Have a look at the plan of your new kitchen and try to visualise the different activities that will be happening in each space. Areas, where food will be prepared as well as above the hob and sink, will require task lighting. Other parts of the room such as the dining area would be much more suited for accent or mood lighting. If you plan to invite guests over one evening for a bottle of wine and something to eat, it would be much more comfortable for them to sit in a softer, relaxing light.

The first step in choosing the correct lighting for your kitchen is to assess the amount of natural light it currently receives. Also, take into account the size and layout of the kitchen. The next step is to carry out some research about all the different types of kitchen lighting available. Armed with this knowledge you should be able to work out whether you have the right environment to be able to utilise any of the following steps.

Ways to control your lighting

Dimmer switch kitchen lighting

Installing a dimmer switch will allow you to create a soft ambient glow in the room. Dimmer switches work by decreasing the amount of power to the light source. You can slowly turn the dial on the dimmer switch until you have found the perfect light setting. You can also have multiple light sources in your kitchen that connect to a flexible control system.

These days, technology allows us to create the perfect light setting all at the click of a button. You can manually create the perfect scene or select one of the preset light patterns by using your smart phone or a computer. Intelligent light systems come preconfigured with a multitude of light presets and can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi. Connecting the light system to the WI-FI allows you to change the brightness, colour and even the type of beam that’s emitted all from your device.

How to get them fitted correctly

If you plan to buy your lights local, make sure you get a qualified electrician to install them for you. Not only will it be safer to hire a qualified electrician but it will also ensure the lights get fitted properly. To get the best results, talk to a specialist lighting designer or an interior designer. A specialist in lighting will be able to recommend which lighting is best for your kitchen.

Learn about the different types of lighting

Task lighting

Task Lighting

Task lighting is used in the busiest areas of the kitchen such as the cooker, sink and the worktops.

If you fit under cupboard spotlights directly above the chopping board, sink and hob, they should provide adequate task lighting for the busiest areas of the kitchen. When installing the under cupboard spotlights, you have to make sure they are positioned as close to the front edge of the cupboard as possible. If they are placed at the back edge of the cupboard, they will only light up the back of the worktop.

There is a wide variety of task lighting to choose from. You can buy slim LED downlighters that do not protrude from the bottom of your overhead units when installed. Another option would be to buy flexible LED strip lighting. You can use LED strip lighting underneath cupboards to light up chopping boards and cooking areas. Another option would be to have directional spotlights mounted on the ceiling. Directional spotlights can be pointed towards the sink, hob and chopping board.

Mood lighting

Before choosing any type of mood lighting, you have to assess how much natural light is coming into your kitchen. Count how many windows there are and make a note of which direction they face. If you have a multi-functional kitchen which gets used for entertaining, it might be worth considering ambient illumination such as eyeball lights or a dimmable wall lights. You can also use smaller, decorative lights.

A pull-down light above a dining table can create the perfect, homely atmosphere at mealtimes. Simply pull down the light before eating, and push it back up again once everyone has finished.

In places of relaxation, mood lighting is essential. Add a subtle form of background illumination by installing wall lights and washers. If you have high ceilings, you will want to buy some uplighters and place them on top of the kitchen cabinets. Uplighters on top of kitchen cabinets will increase the amount of overall light in the room, and you will not need as many downlights.

Accent and feature lighting

Add accent or feature lighting to your lighting scheme to highlight points of interest around the room. The purpose of accent & feature lighting is to guide your eyes to specific points of interest: an oil painting on the wall or a collection of models for example. It also adds to the amount of light in a room.

Bookcases, shelving and cupboards are all likely places to find accent lighting. Many homeowners with an island in the kitchen choose to run a strip of LED lights under the worktop.  Guests seem to be mysteriously drawn towards a kitchen island with subtle lighting. Some homeowners even build lights into the plinth, which provides a gentle glow on the floor. A kitchen island with subtle accent lighting is the perfect makeshift bar for any occasion. Just add stools.

Feature lighting is not essential but adds an extra level of interest to a room. An example of feature lighting would be anything that changes colour or sparkles and catches the eye. In cupboard illumination, sparkling plinth lights and colour changing light systems are all feature lighting.


Pendant light in kitchen hanging above an island

A beautiful pendant light placed above a dining table will help to distinguish the dining room from the kitchen. Pendant lights are available in a range of different styles such as pendant clusters, pendant bar lights and ceiling pendants. They are available to buy in a wide variety of colours.

Ceiling pendants look great hung low over a dining table either on their own or together in rows. For a kitchen island, position them higher up. Pendant lights are not only great to look at they create a great source of light.

For another interesting twist, you could add a dimmer switch to your pendant light. If the pendant is hanging over an island, it could serve multiple roles. Good examples would be as a place to gather with friends in low-level lighting as well as being a place of work.

Natural light

The best source of light in any kitchen is natural light. The benefits of natural light go way beyond just being able to see clearly around the room. Natural light is refreshing and uplifting as well as providing houseplants with the vital light they need to grow. By installing patio doors, skylights and plenty of windows, you will flood your kitchen with natural light. As the light comes pouring into the room, it will bounce off the surface of furniture and worktops creating a vibrant, functional space for all of the family to enjoy.