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How to Light Your Kitchen for Maximum Impact

26 / Feb 2018

Home Lighting Tips

When it comes down to lighting your home, the kitchen is one of the rooms which demands the most attention, as it is often the setting where the family gathers to eat, relax and socialise as well as simply prepare the food. Lighting your kitchen correctly will help you make sure the space is inviting and comfortable as well as functional, thus allowing for various activities ranging from food preparation to entertaining guests and perhaps even getting work done.

You would be surprised to find out how much can be achieved with the correct lighting – you can enhance the natural light in your kitchen, split the area into zones and highlight the room’s best features. Turning your kitchen into a space which is stylish and fun as well as functional isn’t a difficult task, but it does require some planning ahead. Follow our tips and your kitchen lighting is sure to make an impact:

What are the lighting choices for your kitchen?

The variety of different kitchen lighting options available can be overwhelming, so taking the time to weigh up the different choices is key to achieving a uniformly tasteful and functional design. One uniform piece of advice which applies in all cases is to find the balance between keeping the kitchen lighting simple and making sure it isn’t dull.  

Traditional options, such as pendant light and downlights remain popular and have proven to be efficient, but if you are looking to add that extra dimension to your kitchen, consider what other ways there are to illuminate the space.

Follow the LED light

LED strip lights are an underutilised resource which can perform a range of lighting functions. Install these on top of kitchen cupboards to wash the ceiling in ambient light and create the feeling of warm daylight even through the night. For a great finishing touch, use LED lights as accent lighting by placing them under counters and inside glass cabinets as a way to emphasise small details around the kitchen.

Find where the focus hangs

When it comes to accent lighting, it’s worth noting that pendant lights are an excellent choice. For one thing, they are perfect for drawing the attention where you want it to go by illuminating a specific room feature, such as a countertop, the kitchen island or even the dining table. What’s more, the pendant lights themselves make for a sleek addition to the interior décor.

Clear Glass Hay Coolie Pendant Light

Light up the ceiling

Recessed downlights are another stylish choice for your kitchen which will add ambience to the room and give the space a distinctive character. Avoid arranging these in rows spread over the entire ceiling and concentrate them over specific areas that need greater illumination. I like to use these to fill in the gaps, where other lights are struggling to have an effect. It’s worth putting these on a dimmer switch.

High output downlights are also great as a source of shadow-free task lighting for your main work surfaces, which is a great solution if you need functional lighting for prep and cooking.

Know your (kitchen’s) limits

With the myriad of lighting choices available, it is easy to get sucked into the excitement and end up having too many lights in your kitchen. To keep the space looking smooth and stunning, find the right balance and draw the line before you’ve gone overboard.

A great example of overdoing your kitchen lighting is having too many pendant lights all over the room. As mentioned above, pendant lighting should be used as a means to focus the attention on important room features – having too many will make the space feel chaotic and cluttered. The general rule of three (or even two larger ones in some cases) is a great one to follow in this scenario and will help turn your kitchen island or dining area into a focal point.

Although, it is worth noting that the most effective lighting schemes will generally include as many as possible of the ideas discussed here - i.e. multiple layers of lights create texture, flexibility and illumination where it most required.

Upton Ceramic Pendant Light

How to make kitchen lights work for you?

Amongst the greatest advantages of getting creative with your kitchen lighting is that it gives you the opportunity to split the space into different zones with their own individual atmosphere. Of course, to achieve optimal results, it is best to plan ahead – working the lighting into the fabric of your kitchen, instead of choosing it as an afterthought, will add that extra touch of elegance to the space and make sure you’re making the most of each area.

The best way to make the most of having different sets of lights throughout the different areas of your kitchen is by ensuring you can control each lighting circuit individually. This way your kitchen remains multi-functional and you can customise the lighting so you can set the right mood for each occasion – whether it’s food prep without the ambience of your other lights, or a mellow dinner without the distraction of bright task lights. And, if you want to make your kitchen lighting even more customisable, you can also complete it with a dimmer switch!

Open up the space

The possibilities open to you by a clever use of kitchen lights are endless - the right choice of fixtures can really transform the place, making even small rooms appear spacious and light. Ambient ceiling downlights, for instance, can create the impression that your kitchen is much bigger by making the ceiling appear raised and thus expanding the space.

A favourite of mine is to direct small 1w LED adjustable spotlights towards kitchen cabinets, artwork and interesting architectural features. This will have the effect of reflecting the light back into the room, making it appear more open and roomy. To achieve this, it is important to work with the kitchen cabinet maker to ensure the exact positioning of these lamps.

Spotlights also make for great task lighting, so they are a fantastic choice if you are looking for a way to brighten up tricky work surfaces.

Alternatively, you can use strip lights to make your kitchen décor truly stunning without taking up much space. Place these under eye level cabinets, and on the underside of breakfast bars where your knees go for a modern twist to your kitchen lighting.  

Account for flexibility

The main thing to remember is, even if your kitchen is built in a more awkward way which does not feature obvious spaces where a spotlight or a pendant can be placed, do not panic. With the help of clever positioning (e.g. mounting light fittings on the side of cabinets and counters) and longer pendant chains, even the trickiest kitchen layouts can be overcome.

Ledbury Ribbed Glass Pendant

Getting your lighting right is the best way to create a welcoming atmosphere in your kitchen and make it the perfect space for anything from cooking adventures, to enjoying a romantic dinner or a Sunday meal with your family, to hosting guests.