Small kitchen lighting ideas – 10 ways to add light to a small space

These clever lighting ideas are ideal for small kitchens, not only super stylish but each can help to make the room look bigger too
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  • Kitchen lighting can be tricky, especially small kitchen lighting ideas where you need good light to prepare and cook food safely. In a small space, kitchen lighting becomes part of the overall design, so it needs to look good, be practical and add something to the kitchen scheme, and if you eat in there too, it could be the focal point, over the table for example.

    Below we offer you a few lighting and small kitchen ideas for inspiration, with some expert comment from industry insiders on how to get the best lighting for your small kitchen

    Small kitchen lighting ideas

    Small kitchen lighting ideas are tricky to get right and need to be thought about early on in the planning process. If you want to put spotlights in for example, it will impact the floor above, so if you are renovating the bedroom, take this opportunity to put spotlights in before laying new flooring upstairs. If the kitchen is dark, with little natural light, kitchen lighting is even more important, so think about the different types of lighting you will need – good overall light, task lighting and feature lighting to create a scheme that is both stylish and practical.

    1.  Make task lighting key

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Lights need to be positioned where you need them most, over the prep, cooking and sink area, especially in a small dark kitchen. These industrial-style bulb lights are simple but stylish and do the job perfectly, positioned above the work surface in this breakfast area. Their neat size is perfect for a small kitchen.

    Combining different light sources is key in a small kitchen.’This can be accomplished by the use of directional down-lights or spot task with swivel joints within the prep and cooking areas and oversized statement pendants with dimmers over the table or island to add drama and atmosphere.’ says Mary Buchanan, Creative Director of Laura Ashley Lighting and Mirrors.

    ‘The kitchen is a space where task lighting is vital. If your room doesn’t have access to natural light, and you want to create a bright working space consider installing lighting with cool white low energy bulbs (LEDs).

    2. Make a statement with your lighting

    Mint green kitchen with gold chandelier light over kitchen island

    Image credit: Hudson Valley Lighting; Brigitte pendant, around £618, Ivy pendant, from £321 each,

    Use your lighting to get the wow-factor in a small kitchen, positioning a modern chandelier over a kitchen island will create a wonderful mood, especially if it’s on a dimmer switch, and team with oversized bulb lights in a matching brass finish over the sink area.

    Position all the lighting at the right height so that people don’t bang their heads on them too. This chandelier is over the island, so it’s out of the way and the bulb lights are spaced out so that there isn’t one above the sink where it might get in the way or cause tricky shadows.

    3. Consider installing directional spotlights

    Blue kitchen with island, bar stools, yellow splash back tiles, butler sink and wooden floor

    Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee

    Spotlights have been used in kitchens for years – for good reason, because they give excellent over all lighting, then whatever else you want to add, such as task or mood lighting is a plus. Spotlights have improved enormously over the years with the introduction of LED’s which save on energy bills as they last much longer and don’t need to be changed so often. Choose Cool White bulbs for a kitchen which are bright and clear.

    4. Reap the benefits of cabinet lighting

    Kitchen cabinet with light up shelves

    Image credit: IKEA; Enhet Shelving Unit

    Sometimes small kitchens are in the middle of the home and away from natural light, so under cabinet lighting really comes into its own. It puts light where you need it, so you can see to carry out the task at hand safely. These LED Skydrag lighting strips, £13 for 60cm can be clipped onto shelves, they are small but powerful, can be operated from your phone and there is also a wireless dimmer available.

    5. Introduce wall lights

    kitchen walls light in grey kitchen above AGA

    Image credit: Original BTC

    Wall lights are another form of task lighting, so they are ideal above a cooker or preparation area, putting light exactly where it’s needed. They also add a stunning design feature that is also practical. These ones are made from bone china, Oxford Wall Light, £235, Original BTC, and always use the ‘rule of three’ for the most appealing look.

    6. Add drama and shine

    navy blue kitchen with marble splashback gold pendant lights

    Image credit: Pooky; Spangle pendants, from £83

    Using metallic surfaces will bounce light around a small space making the room appear larger, and these large, gold pendants will add a touch of glamour too, especially in the evening when they will offer a warm glow. Position them over the island as a focal point.

    7. Think about drawer lights

    Kitchen drawers open with lights

    Image credit: IKEA

    There is nothing worse than scrabbling about in kitchen drawers looking for something, so make life easy on yourself with strip lights inside the drawers. It will make life so much easier. These are Skydrag LED lighting strips from £13 for 60cm at IKEA.

    8. Pair downlighters with reflective surfaces

    Kitchen island with grey island with glass doors

    Image credit: Higham

    Use thoughtfully placed downlighting to illuminate a splashback. Choose a high gloss material such as acrylic or aluminium for maximum reflection – or seek a more subtle approach with marble or tiled designs.

    Natural daylight makes a kitchen come alive, but if you don’t have a lot of natural light, or to make the most of the daylight you have this idea is perfect. The reflective surface will also make the kitchen look bigger.

     9. Add a burst of colour

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Jo Henderson

    To create a focal point in a small kitchen add a brightly coloured pendant light – these sunny yellow and sea blue, easy-fit shades inject a splash of accent colour and personality to a space. Then you could work a colour scheme around it.

    Using lights to add colour rather than the walls or cabinets allows you to keep the colour scheme white, bright and airy without it be devoid of colour.

    10. Go for industrial style

    PENDANT OVER DINING TABLE

    Image credit: BHS; 3 Light Diner Pendant Light, £110, BHS.

    For something a bit different, choose a mesh diner pendant with an Industrial look and work your scheme around it. It will sit perfectly above a narrow bar table like this one with it’s metal legs and rustic wooden top – the ideal dining spot in a small kitchen. Metal and wood stools complete the look. Narrow tables like this are ideal for tricky places and the stools can be pushed underneath, out of the way.

    Can you put pendant lights in a small kitchen?

    ‘Pendant lights can help draw the eye upwards and give the illusion of more space’ explains Peter Legg, lead designer at Dar Lighting. ‘With clever placement, they can be a great addition to smaller kitchens. Always opt for those with adjustable cords so that you can account for any low ceiling levels and remember to check you can open any high level cabinets without having to fight with them.’

    Single pendants can make a great statement on their own, but you could try a multi-level cluster to frame a key area, such as over a table where any walkways won’t be impacted. Minimalist designs are best for adding a hint of interest without encroaching on the space.

    Clear glass concepts will help to illuminate the whole area, while colourful designs can add a pop of warmth and personality. Pendants can also be great for those looking to install lights on a sloped roof. Those featuring flexible joints can be fitted on pitched roofs and still hang perfectly.

    How do you light a kitchen without recessed lighting?

    ‘There’s lots of ways you can achieve the perfect lighting for your kitchen without recessed lighting’ says Lizzie Beesley, Head of Design at Magnet. ‘For small kitchens, ceiling level spotlights are a great alternative and can be installed to target areas which need most light, with the option of dimmer switches to create atmosphere.

    And under cabinet lighting is a great space saving lighting solution, not only as accent lights, but as an effective way to light food preparation areas rather than the whole room. It can also assist those Friday night kitchen discos through multicolour as well as be controlled through a smart application such as Alexa.’

    How much light do I need for a small kitchen?

    Lizzie Beesley Head of Design at Magnet, says: ‘Good lighting is essential for any kitchen space. It first needs to be bright and shadow-free, making food preparation safe and easy. But secondly, it can also be used for atmospheric effect and to highlight architectural features. The amount of lighting required in a small kitchen depends on different factors. Including the size of the room, the availability of natural light, and the colour of the walls.’

    “It’s a good idea to incorporate spotlights in small kitchens as they can be recessed in the ceiling. Creating a smart, streamlined effect. Dimmer switches are also a great addition and allow you to easily create different moods for all occasions.’

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