Kitchen lighting ideas: six ways to transform your kitchen
Create the perfect kitchen lighting design with help from our ultimate how-to guide
Kitchen task lighting, over-counter pendant lights, recessed LEDs, under-counter lighting – there are a million ways to transform your kitchen using lighting fixtures, but with so many options available, it can be hard knowing where to start.
Whether you’re looking for new kitchen island lighting ideas, or you just want a few budget-friendly kitchen lights to spruce up your existing space, we’ve broken down some of our favourite kitchen lighting designs to help take your room from drab to fab.
Say goodbye to those fluorescent bulbs, it's time for an upgrade! And if you like what you read, we've got lighting design tips for every room, too.
1. Mix it up
Although uniform lighting fixtures can create a more modern feel, sometimes a relaxed look can be more in-keeping with your kitchen’s style. If you want to add a quirky vibe to your kitchen, try experimenting with different lighting heights – particularly with groups of individual pendant lights and over kitchen island lighting.
For smaller islands or breakfast bars, we’d recommend grouping the lights closer together and staggering them vertically; this will draw the eye upwards and give the illusion of a higher ceiling. Alternatively, for larger kitchens, we love the look of multiple light fixings suspended from a statement bar, or even a piece of driftwood for a touch of rustic elegance.
2. Practically perfect
Although you want your space to look super-stylish at all times, it’s important to ensure that your kitchen lighting is practical, too. And for everyday cooking routines, you’re going to need some killer task lighting.
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'Bright task lighting in key areas, such as where you’ll be prepping food, the kitchen sink and above the hob is a must, whereas a breakfast bar is perfect for pendant lighting,' says Mark Mills, managing director at Trend Interiors. 'Along with ensuring that there’s adequate task and ambient lighting, try to make them as versatile as possible by having lights that are controlled separately. For maximum flexibility, factor in dimmer switches so that you have the option of creating a softer ambient glow when needed.'
For an easy fix, moveable track spotlights will allow you to light a large area with a lot of flexibility on your lighting spots. Or, if you don’t have the budget for a big lighting change, why not install some alternative temporary lights? Clamp-style lights will give you an instant solution that you can reposition in seconds.
3. The rule of three - or five
When it comes to designing your kitchen lighting, it’s important to consider the different zones in your space and the type of lighting fixture that will work best for each area. Rows of pendant lights are great for lighting a kitchen island or table, as they create a more focused and moody light suited to eating and socialising.
'You can establish subtle divides in the space as well as carrying through elements of the design for a sleek, congruous finish,' says Julia Trendell, lighting expert at Benchmarx Kitchens. 'Think about the glow you want each space to have – cool white bulbs for task lighting or warm white for dining.'
'My golden rule is to avoid going overboard as you run the risk of dazzling. Instead, choose a few elements that will work well together. For example, pair pendant lighting with plinth lights for a harmonious combination of eye-catching and practical illumination.'
If you want to install multiple single pendants, take a tip from the pro stylists and choose a group of three, or five for larger islands and tables. For added flexibility, opt for a dimmable light so you can alter the lighting to your occasion.
4. Capture a corner
After determining how you’re going to approach your task lighting, take some time to look at the areas you might want to highlight with feature lights.
Corners and far-reaching walls are often overlooked when it comes to kitchen lighting designs, but these corners are the perfect place to house a gorgeous feature light that will create a moody, more relaxed evening vibe.
A cluster of lower-hanging Edison-style light bulbs can give your kitchen an industrial look with a brighter light, or for a calmer, more diffused, lighting effect opt for a light pendant with frosted glass to create a warm ambient light.
'From contemporary glass through to antique brass options, the dropped level of pendants can really help to draw the eye and create the perfect finishing touch for any style of kitchen,' says Julia Trendell.
Many kitchen units can now be fitted with built-in lighting or LED lighting strips, which can also add a touch of glam. 'Adding lighting beneath your counter, your plinths and in glass cabinets can create a great effect as it’s these touches that give a kitchen a designer edge,' says Julia. 'Not only can you highlight specific features, but it also allows you to easily change the ambience of the area depending on how the space is being used.'
5. Get smart
If you love a gadget, then why not embrace your technical side and incorporate it into your kitchen lighting? From smart speakers to video doorbells, smart home technology is everywhere, and your lighting needn’t miss out.
Smart light bulbs and lighting systems are a great way to modify your lighting on the fly, whether that be brightness, turning lights on and off or even the light bulb’s hue.
But if you really want to step it up a gear, systems like the Nanoleaf Canvas will allow you to combine your lighting with art and create a one-of-a-kind feature wall light or under-cabinet light installation.
6. The finishing touches
You’ve chosen your task lighting, created moody corners with gorgeous pendant lights, now it’s time to add the finishing touches with some creative accent lights.
Home accessories that incorporate light are ideal if your budget can’t stretch to more complex task lighting solutions. Small table lamps positioned on your kitchen shelves will create a relaxing mood for the evening, or if you really want to get creative, add a neon sign to your wall or shelving unit for a fun pop of colour; you could even make your own!
Need extra bulbs? See our round-up of practical and stylish energy-efficient light bulbs for your home.
Words by Matilda Bourne