Over sink kitchen lighting ideas to illuminate your basin area

Light up one of the most used areas of your kitchen with the perfect pendant, strip or spotlight

One area of our kitchen which seems to be constantly in use (besides, of course, opening and closing the fridge hoping it's been refilled) is the sink. Whether it's cleaning dishes, washing hands or rinsing produce, over sink kitchen lighting ideas are key to consider to make your daily tasks that bit easier.

All kitchen lighting ideas have their role to play, but all to often sink lighting is looped in with general lighting. Instead, task lighting is needed, but you also need to take into account extra details like the height and size so you aren't bumping into it, or blocking a view.

'Get the positioning of the units more or less firmed up before the first fix of lighting,' advises Karan Main, Director, The Main Company. 'Once this has been completed a loose lighting plan can be done. Take things into consideration like not standing in your own shadow at the sink.'

'Also take in to account the ceiling height and the proportions of the room,' adds Victoria Rothschild, founder, Rothschild & Bickers. 'Then work out where you need focused light directed. Once you have this foundation lighting, consider the decorative aspects.'

Over sink kitchen lighting ideas

From pretty pendants to backlit splashbacks, these over sink kitchen lighting ideas might just light up your life.

1. Choose slimline designs for a clear view

over sink lighting ideas amos

(Image credit: Amos Lighting)

'When it comes to how to plan kitchen lighting, it’s important to consider the brightness level of the room and what areas of the space need to be well lit,' advises David Amos, Founder, Amos Lighting + Home. 'We always recommend making sure that your kitchen layout has already been finalised, including the furniture, appliances, units and fittings. Once you have done this, you are then in the best position to incorporate lights that complement the rest of your scheme.'

Positioning is also key when it comes to windows. If you have a view behind your sink, then you don't want this blocked by an oversized pendant. Slimline designs will allow all the task lighting you'll need when the sun goes down, but won't obstruct your view during the day.

2. Take pendants up high

kitchen with grey cabinets and white washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Although you don't technically need an IP rated light for over sink kitchen lighting ideas, it's advised that you don't keep them too close to water. Take away any anxiety you might have by installing you lights way up high. Plus, the lighting ring will be wider the further you pull them back.

Just ensure you check that you're still getting enough brightness to see what you're doing.

3. Invest in a backlit splashback

kitchen with wooden flooring and white worktop

(Image credit: Rothschild & Bickers)

'Best practise is to layer and spread your lighting across the full area of a kitchen,' suggests Victoria from Rothschild & Bickers. 'Using a balanced mix of bright, non glare directional lighting and soft, ambient illumination. You want your lighting to have the ability to lift and open up your space as well as being cosy and inviting.'

A backlit splashback will add a wonderful mood lighting aspect to your kitchen lighting layouts. Plus, choose a bright enough - or dimmable - option and you'll double this up as task lighting for your sink.

4. Make a subtle statement with a single pendant

kitchen with pink cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Wreford)

Sometimes less really is more. A bold single pendant will work effectively at task lighting your sink, but also add an extra design element.

Choose a colour or pattern which complements the rest of your decor, ideally in the darkest tone so it truly stands out even when switched off

5. Add strip lighting to prevent shadows

kitchen with white cabinets

(Image credit: The Myers Touch)

You tend to be slightly hunched over your sink when cleaning things up. While this is in spite of all our mothers taught us about posture, it also blocks light coming from above. Strip lighting underneath shelving will prevent this problem as the light comes from the length of the shelf. This is also a great approach if you're looking for a more streamlined, minimalistic design.

6. Stick with classic island lighting

kitchen with wooden countertop

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

If your sink if situated on your kitchen island, then you can't go wrong with classic pendants. Hang a couple of pendants above - two or three tend to work best, whichever ensures that the entire island gets suitable lighting. Plus, these pendants will work as both task and statement lighting meaning you get more bang for your buck.

To avoid hitting your head while working away, a good rule of thumb for kitchen island lighting ideas is to hang pendants 12-20 inches below an 8 foot ceiling, adding 3 inches for each extra foot of ceiling height.

7. Add spotlights to your shelving

kitchen with wooden flooring and grey cabinets

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

'Task lighting is designed for everyday needs but is also incredibly useful for illuminating food prep areas, the sink and the hob,' says Graeme Smith, Head of Retail and Commercial design, Life Kitchens. 'Stronger lighting is required for preparing and cooking, but softer lighting makes for a calm, relaxing ambience when eating and socialising.'

With this in mind, add spotlights to the bottoms of your shelves above your sink. This will add the necessary light needed for a task area, but due to being inset, won't distract when turned off.

8. Put spotlights in lower ceilings

kitchen with wooden cabinets and glass worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

If your kitchen has a low ceiling, then you do need to bear this in mind for your over sink kitchen lighting ideas. You can't go wrong with simple spotlights for small kitchen lighting ideas. Choose a set on a dimmer, so you can have bright task lighting when needed, and set the mood when entertaining.

9. Look for oversized designs to add impact

kitchen with white wall and white cabinets

(Image credit: Magnet)

For kitchens with higher ceilings, it's time to go big or go home. Oversized pendants will add a serious style statement to the room.

Light designs, or those with natural gaps, such as from woven or raffia materials, are a great option as they will shine light outwards as well as down. If you choose a more solid style, make sure the interior is either a bright white or a warm metallic to encourage the light to bounce around as much as possible.

10. Combine spotlights and strip lighting

kitchen with wooden flooring and wooden cabinets

(Image credit: Detail Lighting)

'Try to reduce shadows on task areas so when leaning over the work-top the lights should not be directly behind you,' advises Piero De Marchis, Director, Detail Lighting. 'Linear LED lighting is good for reducing shadows, above cabinets, under cabinets or linear trimless strips in the ceiling.'

Combine these with ceiling spotlights so you can choose the level of brightness and adapt as needed.

Can a light be placed over a kitchen sink?

Yes, you absolutely can. You don't even need IP rated lights, but do take some precautions. 'We recommend that lighting is at least 60cm away from a water source, so not hanging directly over the sink,' says Victoria from Rothschild & Bickers. 'We usually recommend not to hang lights over the hob area as well as they can get greasy and the heat can affect them.'

What kind of light goes over a kitchen sink?

This is totally up to you and your own interior design preference. What tend to work well are pendant lights, spotlights and linear strip lights. Choose a design based on the architecture and height of your kitchen, as well as how much light you need at different times of the day in this spot.

Alison Davidson

Alison Davidson has been working as an interiors and lifestyle journalist for over 30 years. She has been Homes and Gardens Editor of Woman & Home magazine and Interiors Editor of House Beautiful magazine, she has also freelanced and worked for most of the interiors magazines at one time or another. She is currently embracing the move to digital using the same knowledge and expertise to produce high quality features.