Know Your Options for Kitchen Lighting

When it comes to kitchen design, lighting plays a vital role in setting the tone, ambiance, and functionality of the space. Knowing your options for kitchen lighting is crucial to achieve the perfect balance between form and function. Beyond mere illumination, modern kitchen lighting serves as a tool to enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the room, creating a welcoming and visually captivating environment. From task lighting to ambient and statement fixtures, each element contributes uniquely to the kitchen’s atmosphere. In this guide, we will explore a wide array of kitchen lighting options, shedding light on the best methods to elevate your kitchen’s design and create a harmonious, well-lit space to meet your needs and preferences.

A Crash Course in Kitchen Lighting for Your Upcoming Renovation

Kitchen lighting serves not only a functional purpose but also plays a vital role in setting the mood of the room, creating a captivating ambiance, and enhancing the overall beauty of the space. Consequently, selecting the right kitchen lighting design becomes a crucial and indispensable part of your upcoming renovation project. The uniqueness of kitchen lighting lies in its dual functionality, requiring it to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

Achieving the perfect balance among task lighting, ambient lights, and statement fixtures is a delicate undertaking. This equilibrium hinges on individual taste and specific needs. Continue reading to gain further insights into kitchen lighting and discover the most effective approaches for making design choices, says Dave Roebel, Owner of Northeast Mechanical Services

What Are the Different Types of Kitchen Lights?

In the realm of kitchen lighting, there are three primary categories: overhead lighting, support lighting, and statement lights. Each of these categories fulfills a distinct purpose, catering to various aspects of illumination in the kitchen. Here’s a closer look at these three types of kitchen lights and their individual roles, 

Overhead lighting

The main source of illumination in a kitchen is typically provided by overhead lighting, also known as ambient lighting.

Overhead lights are commonly recessed into the ceiling and referred to as can lights. Alternatively, they can be in the form of flush, semi-flush, or pendant lights, although the latter style is more accurately categorized as statement lights.

The primary objective of overhead lighting is to offer ambient illumination throughout the entire room. Philips recommends positioning them 23 inches away from the wall, with approximately 40 inches of spacing between each light source to achieve optimal results.

While recessed lights primarily serve a functional purpose, they also possess an aesthetic element that can significantly impact a room’s ambiance, depending on their brightness.

Therefore, it becomes essential to have wall dimmers for your overhead recessed lighting to allow for convenient mood adjustments in your kitchen.

Given the kitchen’s multifunctional nature – serving as a space for both entertaining and meal-prepping – various tasks and occasions demand different levels of vibrancy from your recessed lights. Having wall dimmers facilitates this adaptability and makes the kitchen truly versatile, says Ilia Mundut, Founder and CEO of HeftyBerry.

Support lighting

Next, we have support lighting, also known as task lighting. These lights play a crucial role in aiding specific kitchen tasks, such as chopping vegetables on the countertop, as it is essential to ensure that your work areas are well-lit.

Task lights are specifically designed to illuminate countertops, often utilizing under-cabinet lighting to enhance the functionality of the area.

However, if cooking isn’t your strong suit, and the kitchen primarily serves as an entertaining space, task lighting may become less of a priority compared to ambient and statement lights. Yet, for those who love to cook, selecting the right task lighting becomes paramount, as these lights significantly impact the efficiency and joy of the food preparation process.

Irrespective of your personal preferences, following the Better Homes & Gardens “rule of thumb” for task lights suggests installing them approximately 30 inches above key areas such as your stove top, sink, countertops, and other frequently used work surfaces.

Fortunately, nearly all under cabinet task lights available are LED, making them energy-efficient and straightforward to set up.

Hardwired under cabinet lighting vs. wireless under cabinet lighting.

Obtaining the task lighting required for your kitchen countertops is both affordable and efficient with wireless under cabinet lighting, says Robert Fields, Owner of ATX Stained Concrete.

As a valuable bonus, these lights offer the flexibility of being last-minute additions to your kitchen lighting design plan.

Typically, wireless under cabinet lighting is available in strip form, easily mountable beneath cabinets using screws or 3M tape.

Another option is puck lights, named for their similarity to a hockey puck. These individual spotlights can be utilized to provide extra task lighting in under cabinet areas, although they are more commonly used to illuminate the inside of cabinets.

Alternatively, you may consider hardwired under cabinet lighting as an alternative to both strip lights and puck lights. Hardwired options can lend a more polished and professional appearance to your kitchen lighting design among the three choices.

Statement lights

Lastly, we have statement lights, which offer an exhilarating opportunity to infuse your personal style and take design risks during an interior home remodeling project. Adding more light to your kitchen space becomes a creative journey with statement lights, as they are chosen primarily for their aesthetic appeal, complementing the room’s existing illumination from overhead and task lights.

One popular application for statement lights is kitchen island lighting. A classic and stylish choice is to suspend three identical pendants above a kitchen island, or you can opt for one oversized pendant light for a striking effect.

If you choose the three-pendant arrangement, it is essential to maintain approximately 30 inches of space between each pendant, ensuring they do not hang over the sides of your kitchen island. This attention to detail further enhances the overall visual impact of your statement lighting arrangement.

Elegant island light fixtures, like the ones described earlier, or even a luxurious chandelier, offer fantastic options for making a bold statement in your kitchen.

Architectural Digest highlights a trend in 2021, with a return to organic, serene, and calming forms, using warmer tones in statement lighting.

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that, beyond trends, your choice of lights should reflect your personal taste and the specific theme of your kitchen design.

Pendant lights present an opportunity to unleash your inner designer and express your unique style. So, enjoy the creative process and have fun selecting the perfect fixtures that resonate with your vision. says Brooks Turner, Co-Owner of CTX Land Clearing and Forestry Mulching.

Natural light

Amidst all the discussions about interior lighting, we mustn’t overlook the primary and most valuable source of illumination – the sun!

Whenever possible, seize opportunities to bring more natural light into your kitchen. Natural light serves various purposes, from functionally brightening up a room to enhancing the overall mood of a space. In the kitchen, where most Americans spend a considerable portion of their day preparing meals, natural light becomes even more valuable.

It’s no coincidence that windows are commonly positioned above the sink in virtually every kitchen design. The influx of natural light through these windows not only aids in food preparation but also contributes to the well-being of the person standing at the sink.

When Should You Decide on Your Lighting Design?

The brief response: ASAP.

Ensure that your lighting design plan undergoes review and approval before commencing any construction work on your kitchen renovation project.

To begin, identify and define the various “zones” or functional areas within your kitchen space. Distinguish between task-oriented zones and those intended for entertainment. This early assessment will aid in determining the strategic placement of ambient, statement, and task lights.

Additionally, consider initiating a consultation with our interior designer. This collaborative process will help strike a balance between your style preferences and practical requirements, ultimately leading to the realization of your dream kitchen design.