Kitchen Lighting Ideas, From the Usual to the Unexpected

Is a new kitchen part of your 2018 plans? If so, you’re probably planning and pinning away as you consider all of your options for cabinets and colors and countertops! In the midst of all that planning, make sure kitchen lighting is high on your list, because that lighting can make or break your new kitchen.

You want two kinds of lighting in your kitchen: lighting that will help you get your kitchen tasks done, and lighting that will help you create a warm and cozy atmosphere. These are not the same types of lighting, and one can’t double for the other, although some types of lighting can work for both.

For ideas to help you start planning your new kitchen lighting, we’ve pulled together some of the usual kitchen lighting and why you might want to choose one or the other, as well as some unexpected ideas too…

The usual ways to light your kitchen

Long gone are the days of one oblong fluorescent light fixture attached to the kitchen ceiling, paired with a single bulb over the sink! Today’s kitchens have numerous lighting options.

  • Don’t overlook daylight! If you have windows in your kitchen, be sure to let the light shine in. Avoid heavy curtains or anything that might cut down on this beneficial light.
  • Track lighting is task lighting. When you’re in the kitchen, you’re either eating or taking care of a task such as cooking or cleaning up. When doing a task, the better the lighting, the easier the task. Track lighting will let you point the light to where you need it to be so you can make sure your prep area is well lit and your washing up area too.
  • Go pretty with pendant lights. Kitchens these days are breaking all kinds of design rules, and that’s as true of kitchen lighting as it is of anything else. Pendant lights, which are usually hung over a kitchen island, now come in all kinds of styles, so you can find something that’s a perfect fit for your kitchen.
  • Ceiling lights offer countless options too, from classic recreations of vintage lights to modern designs that make a bold statement.
  • Recessed lighting is subtle, because the light fixtures are embedded in the ceiling so the fixtures themselves are not a design element. However, the light can be used for both task lighting (depending on placement) and mood lighting, so definitely consider using them.

The unusual ways to light your kitchen

Just as you have all kinds of light fixtures to choose from when perusing pendant and ceiling lights, so too can you install lighting where lighting has never gone before.

  • Under-counter lighting can work as task lighting, but it can also be used for atmosphere when the ceiling lights are turned off.
  • If you have soffits—that space between the tops of your cabinets and your ceiling—you can install lighting there for mood lighting. Those lights can be left on all night as a kind of night light too.
  • If you’re using transom cabinets with glass fronts in that soffit space, install lighting to help with atmosphere but also to shine the light on collectibles and pieces you’re showcasing in those transom cabinets.
  • Toe kick lights are a new idea in lighting, with strips of lights installed along the toe kicks of your counters. At night, these lights can create a warm glow and a safety feature: night lights for late-night snackers.
  • Get creative with the ceiling by choosing a chandelier or some other kind of statement light to hang over your eating area. If it’s a rectangular kitchen island, you could hang two smaller chandeliers. If you have a table and chairs as your eating area, one central chandelier would work. Think outside the box!
  • Then there are the best in portable lighting: lamps! A lamp can be used in the kitchen for tasks, such as homework or bill paying, or for atmosphere such as soft lighting. And if you don’t like it or only want it on occasion, you can unplug it and put it away!

Whatever type of lighting you choose, when you’re planning your new kitchen or kitchen remodel, be sure to put lighting on the planning and priority task list, because the lighting can make or break your design as well as the functioning of your new kitchen.