Lighting can make or break a galley kitchen. With their long, narrow layouts, galley kitchens need thoughtful lighting design to make the space feel open, bright and inviting. The right lighting choices are key to creating a functional and stylish galley kitchen.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best galley kitchen lighting ideas. From general lighting principles to specific fixture recommendations, we will cover everything you need to know to light your galley kitchen effectively. With smart lighting and strategic design, your galley kitchen can be both beautiful and highly functional.

Overview of Lighting Needs in a Galley Kitchen

Galley kitchens present unique lighting challenges due to their confined layouts. Here are some key lighting needs to address:

Illuminate the Full Length of the Space

With galley kitchens typically stretching down one long, narrow side of the home, the main kitchen surface can be quite dark unless lit properly along its entire length. General lighting that provides full, even illumination is a must.

Avoid Shadows and Dark Spots

The close quarters of galley kitchens can easily create shadows in corners or dark spots along walls. Lighting design should fill all spaces effectively, avoiding pools of darkness.

Create task lighting for key work areas

Thoughtful task lighting at sinks, stoves, and other workstations helps create a functional cooking environment.

Highlight Design Features

Properly illuminating architectural details, backsplashes, and decorative elements can help make a narrow galley kitchen feel more interesting.

Establish Lighting Layers

Incorporating general, task, accent, and decorative lighting in layers creates visual interest and design appeal.

Choose Flattering Lighting

Lighting color and directionality should be chosen to create a warm, welcoming, flattering galley kitchen environment.

By addressing these needs, excellent galley kitchen lighting can be achieved.

Galley Kitchen Lighting Best Practices

Beyond meeting basic needs, there are some best practices that contribute to great lighting in a galley kitchen:

Mix Lighting Types

Using a combination of lighting, like pendant lights over islands, track lighting, recessed cans, and under cabinet fixtures creates depth and layers.

Choose Dimmer Switches

Dimmers allow customization of light levels for different times of day and tasks. Dimmers help create the right ambience.

Layer Lighting Levels

Incorporate lower-level accent and task lighting with higher-level general lighting for visual interest.

Bounce Light Off Ceilings

High ceilings are common in galley kitchens. Bouncing light off light ceilings makes space feel bright and open.

Use Directional Lighting

Direct linear lighting can make a narrow galley kitchen feel longer and more spacious.

Focus Light Downward

Galley kitchens benefit from light focused downward, reducing shadows while encouraging focus on kitchen tasks.

Enhance Architecture

Use lighting to emphasize pretty architectural elements like windows, arches, and niches.

By incorporating these practices, you can achieve galley kitchen lighting that is both visually striking and highly functional.

Galley Kitchen General Lighting Options

General lighting evenly lights the entire kitchen. For galley kitchens, the goal is to wash the whole narrow space in uniform light without shadows or dark areas. Here are top options:

Recessed Can Lighting

Recessed can lights (also called downlights) are extremely popular in contemporary kitchens. Spaced evenly down the length of the galley, they can illuminate the full space brilliantly. Choose dimmable LED cans.

Linear Pendant Lights

Pendants add style while providing general lighting. Aligning pendants down the center of the galley draws the eye down the space. Choose modern, linear LED flush mount or pendant lights.

Track Lighting

Flexible track lighting allows spots to be aimed to precisely light the galley. Tracks can also be lined down the kitchen length. Go for LED track heads.


Skylights or solatubes introduce natural light from above, making a galley feel open and airy. Great for daytime use. Limit to avoid heat gain.

Wall Sconces

Sconces spaced evenly along side walls provide uniform lighting. Go modern and minimalist. Choose LED for efficiency.

Ceiling Coves

Indirect ceiling cove lighting washes walls and ceilings with a soft, even glow. It prevents harsh shadows. Use LED strips for energy savings.

With the right general lighting plan, your galley kitchen can feel brilliantly illuminated wall-to-wall. Layer with task and accent lighting.

Galley Kitchen Task Lighting Ideas

Beyond overall general illumination, galley kitchens require targeted task lighting at key workstations. Well-designed task lighting prevents eye strain while contributing to safety and functionality.

Under Cabinet Lighting

LED strip lighting or puck lights under upper cabinets provide ideal task lighting for countertops and sinks. Dimmable designs are available.

Pendant Lights Over Islands

Mini pendant lights hung over a kitchen island offer focused illumination for food prep and dining. Go for layered heights and LEDs.

Track Lighting Over Cooktops

Flexible track lights allow you to aim spots right where needed, like over cooking surfaces. Use LED heads for shadow-free task lighting.

Over Sink Fixtures

Swing arm sconces or pendant lights installed near the sink offer task lighting for washing and food prep. Choose dimmable LED fixtures.

Toe Kick Lighting

LED strips lighting the toe kick area under cabinets create subtle but helpful illumination in a galley kitchen’s tight spaces.

Lighted Shelving

For a creative touch, install LED lighting to illuminate open shelving. This provides a glow of task lighting.

By combining general and task lighting, galley kitchens can become highly functional cooking spaces. Don’t underestimate the power of pinpoint task lighting.

Galley Kitchen Accent and Decorative Lighting

Beyond the essentials of general and task lighting, consider fun additions like accent and decorative lighting to give your galley personality:

Under Cabinet Accent Lighting

Install color-changing LED strips beneath upper cabinets to add pops of color. Set to one color or cycle through a rainbow.

Backsplash Lighting

Small LEDs embedded in a glass, mirrored, or marble backsplash shine light through the material, making it glitter beautifully.

Island Pendant Lights

Make a design statement with eye-catching pendant lights over the kitchen island. Go modern, industrial, vintage – the options are endless.

Picture Lights

Use sleek LED picture lights to draw attention to pretty canvases, plates, or other decorative art in your galley kitchen.

Toe Kick Accent Lighting

Colorful LED strips along the toe kick provide a subtle but fun pop of color along the floor. Zone into areas.

Window Lighting

Try sconces or pendant lights flanking windows over sinks. This adds symmetry while accenting the windows.

With the right accent and decorative touches, your galley kitchen lighting can really shine. Don’t be afraid to show off your personal style!

Galley Kitchen Lighting by Space and Function

To recap, here is an overview of lighting suggestions for key spaces and functions within a galley kitchen:

Main Kitchen Length

  • Recessed can lights
  • Linear pendant lights
  • Track lighting


  • Mini pendant lights
  • Recessed cans
  • Track heads


  • Under cabinet lighting
  • Swing arm sconces
  • Pendant lights
  • Track heads


  • Under cabinet lighting
  • Recessed can lights


  • Backsplash lighting
  • Picture lights

Open Shelving

  • Built-in LED strips
  • Picture lights

Toe Kick

  • LED toe kick lighting

Using the right lighting in each area creates the perfect balance in your galley kitchen.

Choose the Right Color Temperature for Your Galley Kitchen Lighting

Beyond simply adding lighting, it is important to choose fixtures with the right color temperature to create the desired ambience in your galley kitchen. Here is what to consider:

Warm White (2700K – 3000K):

With a cozy, yellowish tone, warm white lighting pairs well with traditional kitchen designs and creates a welcoming, relaxed feel. It is flattering for skin tones and wood cabinets. Can feel dark.

Bright White (3500K – 4100K):

The most common choice, bright white lighting has a clean, vibrant tone that feels cheerful and chic. It illuminates spaces well and is universally appealing. Most fixtures use this neutral temperature.

Daylight (5000K – 6000K):

Daylight lighting has a cool, blue/white finish that feels energizing. It supports productivity and illuminates spaces powerfully. Can feel clinical if overdone. Best in moderation.

Tunable White:

Tunable white fixtures allow you to adjust color temperature to suit different needs, like an energizing morning daylight breakfast or a cozy warm white dinner. The ultimate in customization!

Choose lighting color temperature based on your galley kitchen’s needs and your personal preferences. Mixing warm and cool tones can allow customization for different uses.

Top 5 Galley Kitchen Lighting Ideas

To summarize, here are 5 of our favorite lighting ideas for brilliantly illuminating your galley kitchen:

1. Linear Pendant Lighting

Line the entire galley length with matching linear pendant lights for general illumination with visual impact.

2. Recessed Can Lighting

Recessed cans spaced evenly provide full general lighting without shadows. Go dimmable for flexibility.

3. Under Cabinet Lighting

LED strip lights or puck lights under upper cabinets create ideal task lighting for countertops and sinks.

4. Statement Island Pendant Lighting

Make the kitchen island a focal point with eye-catching pendant lights in vibrant colors or designs.

5. Backsplash Lighting

Tiny LEDs lining a backsplash make it glitter and shine, adding a magical accent touch.

Use those top concepts to create a galley kitchen lighting plan that is both beautiful and highly functional. Layer general, task, accent and decorative lighting to create a space you’ll love to cook and entertain in.

With the right mix of lighting styles and thoughtful placement, your galley kitchen can feel expansive and inviting, rather than dark and cramped. A narrow galley kitchen has great potential to feel open, stylish and brilliantly illuminated with creative designs like front-to-back pendant lights, toe kick lighting, backsplash illumination and strategically placed recessed cans. Have fun selecting fixtures that reflect your personal style. The lighting possibilities for fantastic galley kitchens are endless!

Galley Kitchen Lighting Ideas (FAQ)

What are the best lights for a galley kitchen?

The best lights for a galley kitchen are recessed can lights, linear pendant lights, under cabinet lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting at key workstations. Combine types to light the space effectively.

How do you light a long narrow galley kitchen?

Light a long, narrow galley kitchen by installing recessed can lights or linear pendants along the entire galley length. Under cabinet lights illuminate countertops. Add accent lighting for interest.

How do you brighten up a dark galley kitchen?

To brighten up a dark galley kitchen, install abundant general lighting like recessed cans spaced closely down the galley length. Add task lighting under cabinets. Paint walls and cabinets white to reflect light.

Should you have recessed lights in a galley kitchen?

Yes, recessed can lights are highly recommended for galley kitchens. Spaced evenly down the galley, they provide full general illumination without shadows or dark areas. Choose dimmable LED cans.

Where should pendants go in a galley kitchen?

In a galley kitchen, pendants can go over the kitchen island, sink, and range. Aligning linear pendants down the center of the galley length is also recommended to draw the eye down the space.

How do you arrange lighting in a narrow kitchen?

In a narrow kitchen, arrange lighting by installing recessed cans or pendants in a line down the center of the kitchen for general lighting. Add task lighting under wall cabinets. Accent architectural details.


With their narrow layouts, galley kitchens deserve special consideration when it comes to lighting design. The goal is to make the space feel bright, expansive, and inviting. By layering general, accent, task and decorative lighting fixtures down the length of the galley and at key workstations, your kitchen can feel beautifully illuminated.

Place linear pendants, track heads, and recessed cans evenly from end-to-end to prevent shadows. Under cabinet LEDs amplify task lighting. Don’t forget statement lights over your kitchen island! With smart planning and strategic placement of varied fixture styles, your galley kitchen lighting can feel both stylish and highly functional. Use the ideas in this guide as a launchpad to create a lighting plan that reflects your personal taste and brightens up your unique galley kitchen.