Kitchen lighting 101

Kitchen lighting 101

Even though most homes have windows in or very near to the kitchen providing natural light, it always seems like that area of the home can use a little extra lighting. It can be very difficult to prepare a meal or wash dishes efficiently without being able to clearly see what you are working on, and it can also make carrying on a conversation difficult – especially in the evening when the natural sunlight is gone.

Fortunately there are countless fantastic lighting options available, including those that make a serious design statement and those that are more subdued and that blend in with the walls and ceiling seamlessly.


Changing up your lighting also does not have to be a time consuming or costly undertaking – in fact, there are many options that are quick and very affordable if you know what you are looking for. Below are some tips for installing great lighting in your kitchen and for creating the perfect ambiance you have been looking for:

Know what your goal is.

Randall Whitehead – a San Francisco designer – believes that, “the most effective kitchen lighting includes four layers; task lighting, ambient lighting, accent lighting, and decorative lighting.” He also says that combining these four types of light sources creates a space that is both practical and entertaining – something that every homeowner knows is key to a buzzing, inviting kitchen area.

If you want to create a kitchen that is multi-purpose and that allows you to work and play easily, make sure to allow for these varied types of lighting. You could hang a chandelier or bring a beautiful standing lamp in by a dark corner to brighten the whole room. You could install hanging lights over a granite countertop or even LED lighting strips above or below your cabinets for soft ambient lighting that stays on even when the main lights are turned off for the night.

Define your most trafficked areas and light them best.

There’s always a few areas in the kitchen that get used the most, whether your kids congregate at a specific table together each day or you find yourself working from a certain countertop…no matter what or where it is, it is important to make sure that those most-used areas receive ample lighting.

The professionals at say, “The kitchen in the house where I grew up was lit by a single fluorescent ring bulb smack dab in the middle of the ceiling. It was too bright when you clicked it on for a midnight snack and too dim when it came to reading the fine print on the Nestlè chocolate chip package. But like most kitchen lighting back then, it “worked.” These days, “workable” just doesn’t cut it. Most kitchens now serve as dining room, office and family room. Lights are on in the kitchen more than in any other room in the home. And since we cook, work, play and pay bills there, we need a wide range of lighting to create a pleasant environment for all our activities and to prevent eyestrain and accidents.”

Lighting can be art, too.

Gone are the days of boring can lights or exposed fluorescent bulbs that many of our parents or grandparents used growing up. Light fixtures are all grown up, and there are definitely designs and styles out there for every decorating or artistic style you can imagine.

Monorail light systems allow you to create track-style lighting that is very sculptural in look but that still provide ample directional lighting for your kitchen. You can customize the curve of the track and even the light covers themselves to create a gorgeous statement piece that is unique to your home’s style. As mentioned before, chandeliers are always a great statement as well – especially since you can select one that is either small and demure or large and bold to match with both your space and your sense of aesthetic style.

To really make a special statement, consider marquis lighting in your favorite inspirational word or even in your family’s last name. With so many sizes, colors, and styles to choose from, you are sure to find something that is perfect for your kitchen walls.

The bottom line for creating a kitchen that is well-lit and also beautiful is to strategically place lights over your most used areas and then utilize accent lighting pieces that you find visually attractive as well as functional. The best part about free-standing lighting is that you can easily move things around when the inspiration or desire hits, thus changing the look of your kitchen in an instant.

A well-lit kitchen is a place your family and friends will want to gather, and it will be a place where you can work quickly and efficiently whenever the need arises.