​The homify guide to kitchen lighting

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Twickenham Extension, Loft Conversion & Refurb, The Market Design & Build The Market Design & Build Modern kitchen
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There’s no denying that each and every element in a well-designed kitchen is there for a reason – from the stove and fridge to the sink faucets and salt-and-pepper shakers, all of these are there to serve you and ensure your culinary space is a comfortable and efficient work zone. 

But far too many people overlook a crucial factor that’s also part and parcel of the kitchen: the lighting. For just like any other room in the house, sufficient illumination is required for the kitchen – perhaps even more so, seeing as the kitchen can be used for numerous functions, from slicing, stirring and boiling to socialising with family, working by your lonesome self, and entertaining friends. No wonder it’s also known as ‘the heart of the home’. 

Are you starting to get the idea of why adequate kitchen lighting is important? Then let’s continue by seeing how professional kitchen planners go about lighting up a kitchen to make it stylish and practical.

1. The different kinds of kitchen lighting

First things first: any kitchen is a work zone above all, meaning there are different functions that are taking place on those counters, atop the chopping board, on the stovetop, on the kitchen island, and just about everywhere else. This means that, in order for a kitchen to be illuminated effectively, it needs to have more than a single lighting source – ‘layered lighting’ is the key term here. 

So, instead of settling on one decent ceiling light and calling it a day, use a mixture of the following lighting to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen:  

• ambient lighting; 

• task lighting; and  

• accent lighting.

2. Kitchen lighting explained: Ambient lighting

SE1 Extension Designcubed Modern kitchen Solid Wood Grey

SE1 Extension


Ambient lighting can be seen as the general lighting in any room; that point of illumination that serves to light up the entire space. The main aim of ambient lighting is to provide a comfortable level of brightness without being too glaring or gloomy.

Examples of ambient lighting include ceiling lights, pendant fixtures and recessed downlighters, and all of these can be used successfully for ambient kitchen lighting.

3. Kitchen lighting explained: Task lighting

Brilliant Bethnal Green, Propia Propia Industrial style kitchen

Brilliant Bethnal Green


When it comes to kitchen lighting, task lighting is quite crucial. Consider how many tasks take place in a kitchen on a daily basis; how many things need to get sliced and chopped, cooked or baked, brewed or rinsed. 

Add to that the fact that a kitchen is filled with sharp and hot elements, making it quite a dangerous space if you can’t see properly, and the inclusion of task lighting in a kitchen becomes vital. 

The aim of task lighting is to highlight a specific space where a task can be completed, such as the counter, cooker, sink, etc. Spotlights, either in the ceiling or against the wall, are one of the easiest ways to add task lighting to a kitchen, allowing you to adjust and direct them to provide all the light you need. Under-cabinet lighting is another example of task lighting, adding more illumination to worktop spaces and counter areas.

4. Kitchen lighting explained: Accent lighting

Kitchen A2studio Modern kitchen White kitchen sink,wood shelf



If you want your kitchen to enjoy a relaxed ambience via lighting, then soft accent lighting is what you need to focus on. When done correctly, accent lighting can make for quite a peaceful space, enhancing a kitchen to become one of the main socialising rooms in a home (especially when said kitchen is also used for dining, as in the case of an open-plan kitchen and dining room). 

Accent lighting can also be used to highlight decorative elements, as glass-front cabinets, shelving and the undersides of worktops can be styled up with simple LED strip lights. The result? A glowing (and quite exceptional-looking) spot that draws attention to it without making it too bright.

5. Kitchen lighting sources: Ceiling spotlights

Like any other room, a kitchen’s main lighting source usually comes from the ceiling. And ceiling lights have been trusty lighting fixtures for decades, seeing as the light can be directed towards the most popular areas of the room (whether it’s the bed in the bedroom, the tub in the bathroom, or the countertop in the kitchen).

Another benefit of ceiling spotlights is that they tend to have a clean, simple look about them, meaning they can fit into just about any kitchen, regardless of whether it’s super modern, crispy contemporary, charmingly country, or another style completely.

6. Kitchen lighting sources: Ceiling downlighters

North London house refurbishment, DDWH Architects DDWH Architects Modern kitchen
DDWH Architects

North London house refurbishment

DDWH Architects

Ceiling downlighters are another well-known choice for kitchens, thanks to their sleek, modern designs. Recessed downlighters are designed to sit flush in the ceiling, which is perfect for kitchens with low ceilings.  

Versatility is one of the main advantages of downlighters, as they can be spread about the ceiling to create even ambient lighting, or grouped together to place focus on a specific area, such as directly above the kitchen island, the dining table, etc.

7. Kitchen lighting sources: Pendant lights

Twickenham Extension, Loft Conversion & Refurb, The Market Design & Build The Market Design & Build Modern kitchen
The Market Design & Build

Twickenham Extension, Loft Conversion & Refurb

The Market Design & Build

Whereas downlighters fit snug into a ceiling, pendants dangle from it, ensuring some unique character and style (if your ceiling is high enough). 

Ceiling pendants can also be viewed as part of the décor in a room, seeing as they are available in a multitude of designs, sizes, shapes and colours. They are perfect for making a style statement, such as hanging directly above a breakfast bar, providing focused lighting in the process.

8. Kitchen lighting sources: Wall lights

In a kitchen, the majority of surfaces need to be kept clear for food prepping, working, etc. This makes the inclusion of table lamps not always possible. But with wall lighting fixtures, decent ambience is provided in the form of accent lighting, especially when placed next to other features like paintings, cabinetries, etc. 

And just like ceiling pendants, wall lights can also become part of a room’s décor via their flexible designs and use of materials.

9. Kitchen lighting sources: Chandeliers

Barton Road Extension, R+L Architect R+L Architect Modern kitchen
R+L Architect

Barton Road Extension

R+L Architect

Although one may not immediately think of the kitchen when wondering where to hang a chandelier, it can become quite the eye catcher in the culinary zone. Imagine how stylishly it can glamour up a kitchen when dangling directly above an island, the dining table, or any other area you want to draw attention to.

10. Safety first

W9 | Eclectic Industrialism Davonport Industrial style kitchen Wood Grey

W9 | Eclectic Industrialism


Regardless of which lighting sources you decide on for your kitchen, remember that precaution must always be taken with anything related to electricity, especially for areas like the sink. Therefore, homify strongly recommends making use of expert lighting professionals and/or electricians when giving your kitchen (or any other room) a lighting makeover.

From one room to another, have a look at these 10 modern lighting ideas for a truly brilliant bathroom.

What lighting do you require to give your kitchen a style upgrade?

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