How to light a kitchen

Dining, relaxing, working or just entertaining, your lighting plan must cater for all these activities

Kitchens are a key element in any building whether you are in a manor, city house, townhouse or country house. It is often the heart of a family home, it needs to have the right balance between functionality and setting the tone/mood. When you are looking at a kitchen they come in many sizes and with different elements inside, like islands. This article will outline the key features that lighting designers look for when choosing lighting as well as the struggles they can sometimes face.

As there are many designs and layouts a kitchen can have, you always need to factor in every element to get the best design possible. Furthermore, when choosing your lighting you need to make sure that it flows through the house so that you don’t get a jarring experience when walking room to room instead it will be a subtle difference that most people won’t notice. Currently LED lighting is popular due to the quality of the LED chips both in terms of longevity and breadth of lighting effect so more of the public are becoming aware of the products and demand is becoming higher. LED lighting has switched from talking about how energy saving the product are to the effect the light can produce. This shows as there are more ranges than ever for lights such as Wall lights, ground lights, downlight and many more.



All elements of the kitchen need to be considered into the design so that when installing the lights you need to light up the features of the room as well provide a lighting temperature that would be suitable. If you were to only do a simple 2D plot this could lead to the lighting being off centered and the lights might be placed in an unflattering uniform for the room. Often lack of information on the room leads to the lights being placed in simple uniform in the kitchen such as a straight line of downlights in middle of room. Even though it does provide efficient lights it doesn’t highlight specific features such as island, artwork or kitchen surfaces which would make the room look spacious and inviting. As kitchens are used for various situation like working, eating and events you would need lights that can change from a task light to an ambient light so it would be best to using a dimming/dimmable product in the kitchen.

The width of the kitchen area can affect lighting greatly as with a smaller kitchen you would need to make the room look spacious and created an impression of width this is so the area doesn’t look cramped together. When lighting smaller areas it would be better to have two downlights or double fixture on both sides to create a wall wash effect on the cupboard or opposite wall so that it opens up the room and increases brightness with the lights reflecting against the surfaces. Furthermore, you would need to have a task light which can be normally be found under the cabinet using LED strip or downlights. An example of a strip you could use it LSV45. Alternative to downlight you can add an additional feeling of space by adding up lights so you are able to give an indirect effect of light.


Island lighting

When looking at larger kitchens you would need to focus on lighting the surfaces efficiently and creating enough light so that all area can be highlighted. A balloon style pendant would be a good option for this type of area as they provide a good spread of light and would be useful to create task lighting. Larger kitchens normally have a central island, this would be one of the main features to light up in most kitchens. To light this feature effective you would use a pendant but make sure you are including the ceiling when making this decision. If the room has a low ceiling the pendant wouldn’t be the best decision this is because it would make the room look to smaller and decrease the height of the room entirely. An alternative for the pedant would be a downlight either recessed or surface mounted as it wouldn’t decrease the height of the area and would provide efficient lighting even though it’s a different type of LED fitting.


Task lighting

Task lighting in a kitchen is essential. There are 3 different type of task lighting you can have in a kitchen. One is individual under cabinet lighting this task light it used to reduce the effect of shadowing created by general lighting. Normally it is done with mini Led downlight that have frosted glass or it’s done with a linear solution. An example of a downlight we have for this type of lighting is DM02 or DL120. With this method of task lighting the LED fitting will not visible as the fittings are quite shallow so can be easily covered by having a down stand on the cupboard or an eye shield on the light fixture. When using solid shelves a vertical LED solution work better at the front while on a glazed unit you would situated them in the middle or further at the back of the unit.

Linear under cabinet task lighting is the most commonly used method for task lighting. You are able to use mini downlight but they are mostly placed at the back of the cabinet so you can minimise the reflection against the materials when situated far away. This style of task lighting is different to the others as it uses an opal diffuser so that the light is not as jarring/bright when under the cabinet. If you would like a softer effect than a downlight, you would use LED strip under the cabinet. Another way you can provide task lighting is to use a decorative wall light or pendant. Pendants are used on islands as they provide the best task lighting for the surface. Glass is always better when using pedant fitting as they are more aesthetically pleasing and they provide less of a shadow on the light. Using metallic or solid shade pendants can conceal the source therefore the light will only be directed down.


Overall, there is many elements you need to consider when you are lighting up a kitchen effectively. You need to make sure you considering the room size such as height and width, whether it’s got an island or not, the decoration, area of interest and the materials of the surfaces. All luminaries come in different shape and size but all work as effectively as each other but the challenge comes from choosing the right match for the environment/area.

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