Lighting for kitchens is a huge topic, and knowing where to start with a new kitchen can be daunting.
So rather than covering every aspect ourselves, we decided to take a targeted approach and ask 8 leading interior design and lighting experts the question:
“What are your number 1 lighting tips and tricks for a new kitchen?”
The tips we got back were magnificent and give some real insight into where you should start when lighting your kitchen.
We had a blast talking with each and every one of these industry leaders!
And because we had so many great responses, here’s a convenient list of the experts with quick links to each of their answers:
Not surprisingly, 50% of our experts advised to focus on Dimmers. But don’t stop reading here! There are lots of excellent tips below and you won’t want to miss them if you are on the look out for the best lighting solutions for your kitchen.
So when we asked the question: “What are your number 1 lighting tips and tricks for a new kitchen?”, Here’s a look at what each of our experts had to say….
Anna is a double-award winning blogger at Don't Cramp My Style specialising in interior design. Here’s what Anna had to say…
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the whole house. The right amount of light is crucial here. First of all, I would make sure you have enough natural light, so avoid blocking your window with heavy curtains or blinds.
It depends on your room size, but having a good quality spotlight can really make a difference. There is quite a trend with an under unit strip light or sometimes is located within the plinth, as long as is not tacky with neon lights it can be quite a feature with a soft helpful light during the night.
Danica Rog an interior designer at Freshome. Here’s what Danica had to say…
I think when it comes to lighting in the kitchen, there are several amazing options for highlighting different parts and workspaces. Whether the lighting is overhead, under-cabinet, in-cabinet, pendant, or a combination of all of the above, dimmer switches are a designer's best friend. You can create so many different looks by playing with light levels.
Whether you need all of the lights bright for busy dinner party prep, or want low-lighting by dim under-cabinet lights with a glass of wine after the party ends, dimmers give you a range of options for ambiance.
Temenouzhka Zaharieva is an interior designer and founder of Trend Office. Here’s what Temenouzhka had to say…
Lighting is an important piece of the overall interior decorating process. Especially in rooms like the kitchen, where the right lighting above the worktop is essential for its proper use. Still, as an interior designer often doing face-lift projects, I often see kitchens with just ceiling lights and lacking any task lighting.
My #1 tip on lighting for kitchens: Don’t forget to add lighting below the upper cupboards just above the worktop area and don’t only rely on ceiling fittings, because it will certainly cast shadows exactly over the worktops where you are standing. If you do overlook installing lighting beneath the upper cupboards in your new kitchen - it is still possible to attach LED lights powered with batteries afterwards. So make good use of the benefits with new LED technology. Note that LED bulbs can last for up to 20 years and can also be so tiny that they can be easily integrated into any modern interior design project.
Craig DiLouie is a veteran industry journalist and owner of Light NOW. Here’s what Craig had to say…
Very often, a single overhead light fixture carries the job of lighting the kitchen. This can result in a glare-bomb in the ceiling and shadows under cabinets. A better approach is to place light where it’s needed, which means layering. Layering involves dedicating light fixtures to general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.
General lighting is for general ambiance, socializing, moving around, etc. During the day, it can be daylight. At night, one or more overhead fixtures can do the job. These can blend into the architecture, such as downlights, or stand out, such as a chandelier.
The task lighting should focus light on where work is done—the counters, sink and stove top. This could be under-cabinet lighting and light placed on the sink and stove. If a kitchen island/breakfast bar is present, task lighting can be focused on that as well, possibly a linear pendant for an architectural feel or a series of miniature pendants for an elegant feel. (In this event, the general lighting might be recessed to avoid having a chandelier compete with these lights.) If there’s a table in the kitchen used for dining, homework, etc., a decorative pendant can be mounted over it for task lighting as well as aesthetics.
The last layer is accent lighting, which calls attention to things you want people to see, such as artwork, architecture, etc. The idea is to focus higher brightness on these objects to draw attention. Examples include internal lighting in glass cabinets, track lighting, aim-able recessed lighting, and cabinet lighting.
By separately circuiting these layers and placing each on its own-dimmer-switch, you can create lighting scenes. With a preset dimmer, you can program these scenes by function (e.g., cooking, socializing, eating, clean-up, etc.) for instant push-button recall.
By designing separately controlled lighting layers, you can put light where you need it without glare or heavy shadows, make focal points pop in a visual story, and change the look and feel of the space instantly based on need, mood or preference.
Linda Merrill is an award-winning interior designer based in Massachusetts. Here’s what Linda had to say…
My #1 tip for lighting a kitchen is to remember that it is a work space and that means that functional lighting should take precedence over “pretty” lighting. Cooking requires clean bright lighting with true colour rendering so that the cook can see their food prep clearly.
Since kitchens are so much the hub of the house these days - tasks like homework also need to be accommodated and lit properly.
Finally, all lights should be on dimmers so that once the work is done, the lights can be lowered for a more pleasing look.
Michele Alfano is the Creative Founder of MoD Design Guru. Here’s what Michele had to say…
Layering light with different styles of fixtures creates great kitchen illumination. Mix up recessed lighting, under cabinet lighting with a statement piece over the island.
I love over scaled drum shapes or chandeliers with an organic style. Don't forget to install dimmers to help control the light level and the mood in the kitchen which is perfect for entertaining!
Gina Phillips is the Author and Founder of Décor Ideas. Here’s what Gina had to say…
Only Fit LED light bulbs is my No1. Tip. Choice of lighting would be LED Down-lights personally...
Track lighting is quite cool in kitchens though as this allows for long areas to be illuminated.
Frankie Elmquist is an interior architect and home design specialist for RoomSketcher. Here’s what Frankie had to say…
When it comes to kitchen lighting, location and colour appearance (or temperature) are critical. There is nothing worse than trying to work with a knife in shadow. Yet in so many kitchens the lighting is located over the pathways, which places it behind you when you are working at the counter, stove or sink. To correct, balance general ambient lighting with task lighting located directly over your work surfaces. Under cabinet lights, a kitchen hood with a good light, a recessed light over the sink and a set of pendant lights over an island or peninsula are all great ways to get light where you need it.
Next, consider the bulbs in your light fittings. The colour of your bulbs affects how food appears and even your appetite. CFL and linear fluorescent bulbs are typically “cool white” (3500-4100K) and have a bluish cast. While “cool” or “bright white” bulbs are good for many task-related activities, cooking is not one of them because the blueish cast can make food appear dull and unappetising. Opt instead for “daylight” bulbs (5000-6000K), which are excellent for detailed-related work and provide a truer colour and contrast.
is a writer for LED Lights and an interior design junkie, as well as being a
mother of two and a proud Labrador owner, she spends a lot of
time, maybe too much, wondering which room to redecorate
When it comes to lighting your kitchen, the most important thing of all is to plan carefully. This means working out where you need to put your lights and what types of lights to use. You do not want to create shadows or dark spaces. Always choose LED light bulbs because you can increase the amount of light in your kitchen while also cutting down on the cost of running them.