Kitchen lighting ideas – to deliver the right brightness levels as and where you need it

A versatile lighting scheme is a must-have for today's multifunctional kitchen

After beautiful kitchen lighting ideas? The primary function of a kitchen may still be cooking, but it increasingly serves as one of the main entertaining spaces in the home. The right lighting can introduce several levels of brightness, make small kitchens feel larger, and dramatically alter its mood and feel. It’s important to invest in a scheme that provides good task lighting, as well as creating the ideal ambience.

Kitchen lighting can sometimes be the last consideration when it comes to designing your space, but for a kitchen to look and function well, the space must be lit properly. Experts agree that the best time to decide on a new lighting scheme is at the planning stage, as you’re signing off your kitchen drawings. Leave it until later, and it could become an afterthought, with limited possibilities.

A good kitchen lighting system needs at least two elements: bright, shadow-free, task light for safe cooking and preparation, and atmospheric illumination to create mood, highlight architectural features and make the room feel less functional. Look at the areas of your kitchen and think about the activities that will happen in each space. Some spaces, such as food preparation zones, the kitchen sink and above the hob, will require task lighting, while others, such as the dining area, call for mood and accent lighting. If people are going to be chatting to you in the kitchen over a glass of wine while you’re cooking, you’ll want them to sit in a softer light so they can relax.

Check out our kitchen channel for more great kitchen decorating ideas and inspiration

1. Perfect your scheme with pendant lights

Kitchen lighting ideas

A series of beautiful pendant lights or a fabulous single statement piece above a dining table will help differentiate the dining space from the kitchen’s work zones. Styles range from old-school, industrial shapes in shiny, on-trend copper to striking ceramics in translucent hues. Hang pendants low over the table for a feeling of intimacy. Or position them high over kitchen islands. This not only provides a great source of light, it also adds interest, breaking up the austere lines of cabinets. For added flexibility, try fitting pendants with a dimmer switch, so the island can function as a bright area for working, or a place to gather with friends with softer, low-level lighting.

Want more kitchen lighting ideas? READ: Kitchen lighting – everything you need to know

2. Take control of your kitchen lighting scheme

Kitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: British Standard Cupboards

With so many different light sources at your disposal and with different functions to cater for, it is wise to consider a flexible control system rather than a simple on/off switch. If possible, make sure your lights are controlled separately so you can create different moods at the flick of a switch. To create mood lighting in relaxing zones, try wall lights and washers, which add a subtle form of background illumination. For high ceilings, uplighters on top of the kitchen cabinets will enhance the general light, while reducing the number of downlights you’ll need.

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Buy now: Kitchen design, British Standard Cupboards

3. Light up with LEDs

Kitchen lighting ideas

Offering a wealth of lighting opportunities, Light-Emmitting Diodes (LEDs) are frequently used in modern kitchen design. Their low heat emission makes them extremely energy efficient and ideal for areas that require little maintenance or are awkward to replace such as recessed ceiling lights or floor uplighters. LEDs are smaller and easier to conceal than fluorescents, won’t flicker when turned on and take no time at all warm up to full brightness. ‘LEDs are most certainly the future when it comes to lighting the kitchen,’ declares Michael Linsky, managing director of Sensio. ‘When compared to outdated alternatives they are more cost effective, because although the initial outlay may be higher, energy bills are reduced.’

4. Take on task lighting

Kitchen lighting ideas

Under-cupboard spots fitted directly above the hob, sink and chopping board will ensure bright, focused task lighting; make sure you position them as close to the front edge of the cupboard as possible, otherwise you’ll illuminate the back of the worktop only. John Cullen Lighting recommends small, compact fluorescents or LED under-cupboard downlighters that are slim enough to be recessed into the bottom of overhead units. Flexible LED strip lighting mounted on the underside of cupboards is another option.

5. Think about height

Kitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: Paul Raeside

The perfect height of lights depends on two factors: the height of the people living in the house and the height of the ceilings. Wall lights work well in a small kitchen, especially ones with little natural light. Give a modern kitchen an industrial twist with a stainless steel or brass light fixture.

Looking for more kitchen ideas? READ: Budget kitchen ideas – spend less without compromising on style

6. Use your favourite colour

Kitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: David Brittain

Warm colours or industrial looking fittings have previously been popular for pendants but we are now seeing a move towards bolder, colour choices such as red, yellow and green. Customers want to add a splash of colour and excitement to the kitchen which is nowadays thought of more as a hub for socialising. Match the style of your light fittings to your kitchen – interesting light fittings will stop your kitchen looking overly clinical. Prismatic glass and bone china work wonderfully in country style kitchens, metallic pendants give an industrial flavour and brightly- painted pendants bring an often-needed pop of colour.

7. Take your kitchen space into consideration

Kitchen lighting ideas

Image credit: British Standard Cupboards

Working in a kitchen with only a central light fitting means that you are standing with your back to the light and in your own shadow wherever you are in the room. A matt white ceiling and light coloured upper walls make any lighting system more effective by reflecting the light and spreading it more evenly, which also creates an illusion of space.

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Buy now: Kitchen design, British Standard Cupboards

Enjoyed these kitchen lighting ideas and want more kitchen advice? READ: How to plan a kitchen – your step-by-step guide to the perfect space

You may want to seek advice from a lighting expert or interior designer who will have a vast knowledge of the different sources of light, the many fixtures and fittings on offer, as well as today’s hi-tech control systems. Always employ a qualified electrician to ensure a safe and well-fitted installation. Experts say it is crucial to think about the key areas that need lighting rather than working around grids and symmetry.

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