Lighting is one of the most important elements in kitchen design. The right lighting serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, ensuring your kitchen is safe, comfortable and stylish. As you invest in a smart kitchen renovation or remodel, be sure to consider lighting as an essential component.

Choosing the Right Fixtures

When selecting lighting fixtures for your kitchen, balance task lighting with ambient or general lighting.

Task lighting is focused light designed to illuminate work areas and surfaces. For example, pendant lights or under-cabinet lighting highlight food prep zones and sinks. Make sure there is ample task lighting over the stove, counters and islands where detailed work occurs.

Ambient lighting provides overall illumination for the entire kitchen space. Recessed cans, chandeliers and flush or semi-flush ceiling lights are common options. Ambient lighting works best when used in conjunction with task lighting.

Also consider the style, finish, and quality of the fixtures themselves. There are endless options from sleek and modern to classic and ornate. Choose lighting that aligns with your kitchen’s design scheme. Mixing finishes like brushed nickel and antique brass can add appealing contrast.

Smart Technology for Convenience

Today’s smart home technology gives you more control over your kitchen lighting for both function and aesthetics. Consider installing dimmable LED fixtures that allow you to adjust the ambiance from bright light for cooking to soft light for dining. Dimmers, sensors and timers allow you to customize brightness and automate lighting schedules.

Smart lighting goes beyond standard on/off functionality. Options like Tunable White technology allow you to change fixture color temperature from warm to cool light. This lets you match lighting to different activities.

Motion sensors turn lights on automatically when you enter the kitchen for safety and convenience. Use them inside cabinets and pantries too.

Smart switches, apps and voice assistants such as Alexa allow you to control lighting with the tap of a finger or simple voice command. Set schedules, turn lights on when away, and create groups for one-touch control.

Placement for Optimal Illumination

Proper placement amplifies the functionality of kitchen lighting. Follow these tips:

  • Install pendants or other task lighting over key workstations like islands, sinks, stoves and prep areas. Position at least 30” above the counter for best illumination.
  • Include ample ambient lighting throughout for general visibility. Recessed cans work well for overall illumination. Space 4-6 feet apart.
  • Under cabinet lights provide focused task lighting for countertops and backsplashes with minimal glare. Opt for LED strip lighting.
  • Layer in accent lighting like picture lights or track lighting to highlight display areas and architectural details.
  • Make sure lighting is bright but not harsh. Look for fixtures with diffusers or frosted shades to soften glare.

Creating a Cohesive Look

Kitchen lighting should align with your overall interior design aesthetic. Here are some tips:

  • Match metal finishes on fixtures, faucets and other hardware for a unified look. Go for all chrome, all bronze etc.
  • Choose fixture styles like flush mounts or semi-flush for a clean, integrated look.
  • Incorporate lighting into cabinetry with inside shelf LEDs and under cabinet stripes. Conceal strips for seamless illumination.
  • Splurge on a dramatic focal point chandelier or pendant to make a design statement.
  • Use sconces and other decorative wall lighting for ambient soft glow.
  • Go for vintage inspired Edison bulbs and filament styles for a retro vibe.
  • Accent with trendy light features like smart color changing bars and cool backsplashes.

With the right lighting design, your kitchen can be both highly functional and visually stunning. Consult with a kitchen designer or electrician for help determining the optimal lighting plan and placement for your unique space. Invest wisely in smart fixtures suited for cooking, dining and living. Then enhance with architectural details through wall sconces, picture lights and accent features. With layers of light tailored to your tasks and style, your kitchen can shine day or night.

Lighting Tips for Safety

Proper kitchen lighting serves looks and atmosphere, but its most critical role is promoting safety. Follow these tips:

  • Brightly illuminate all food prep and cooking areas. This includes islands, stoves, sinks and counter spaces.
  • Under cabinet lighting provides task visibility and reduces shadows on work areas.
  • Make sure lighting is shadow and glare-free, especially around cooking zones.
  • Install fixtures with diffusers or frosted shades to soften harsh light.
  • Include ambient lighting so the overall kitchen is well-lit, not just task areas.
  • Use motion sensors or smart switches to turn lights on when entering the kitchen.
  • Make sure lighting is easy to access. Place switches near entryways and work zones.
  • Layer multiple types of lighting like pendants, recessed and under cabinet. Combinations reduce shadows.
  • Pay attention to stairways, dark corners and hazards prone to falls or accidents.

By focusing first on safety, your kitchen lighting design will function beautifully while keeping you secure during all activities. Don’t underestimate the power of proper illumination for reducing risk and enhancing daily life.

Lighting for Kitchens Big and Small

Kitchen size and layout impact lighting needs. For smaller kitchens:

  • Stick with ambient and task lighting. Avoid bold fixtures that overwhelm.
  • Use recessed or flush mount ceiling lights. Pendants may compete for space.
  • Under cabinet LEDs open up a tight space with focused task lighting.
  • Look for mini fixtures with smart technology like LED puck lights.
  • Accent the design with picture lights, discreet LED strips and other modest details.

For larger kitchens:

  • Use a grand chandelier or multi-light pendant as a focal point.
  • Add drama with pendant clusters over islands and dining areas.
  • Layer ambient, task and accent lighting for dimension.
  • Include architectural lighting like wall sconces and table lamps.
  • Use your size to incorporate lighting innovations like LED color bars.
  • Splurge on big fixtures or installations not suited for tight spaces.

The layout may also impact placement. Work closely with designers for custom solutions. Proper lighting can make any kitchen shine.

Energy Efficient Options

Today’s lighting technology offers many energy efficient options perfect for eco-conscious kitchens. Consider:

  • LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescents. LEDs work well for task, accent and ambient lighting.
  • Occupancy sensors turn lights off after a space is vacated, saving energy. Use for pantries, garages, utility rooms.
  • Smart switches make it easy to control lights remotely via apps, schedules and voice control. No more lights left on.
  • Solar powered fixtures absorb natural light during the day, reducing daytime energy draw. Consider for garages, closets, outdoors.
  • Natural lighting like skylights, windows and tubes minimize the need for fixtures during daylight hours.
  • Dimmers allow you to adjust brightness as needed. LEDs work best for variable control.
  • Automatic daylight dimming responds to ambient light conditions, dimming electric lights when daylight is ample.
  • Timers program lights to turn on/off on schedules, saving unused lighting. Great for vacations.
  • Motion/occupancy sensors only light occupied spaces minimizing energy waste. Use for pantries, garages and closets.

Be sure to choose EnergyStar rated fixtures for the highest efficiency and performance. Consult lighting experts for help tailoring solutions to maximize energy savings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about kitchen lighting:

How many recessed lights should a 10×10 kitchen have?

For a 10×10 square kitchen, plan on installing 6 to 8 recessed can lights spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. Include other task lighting over key areas like the stove.

What is a good lumens range for kitchens?

Aim for a minimum of 75 lumens per square foot, up to 100. So for a 10×10 kitchen, look for fixtures with 750 to 1,000 total lumens.

Where should pendants go in a kitchen?

Pendants work well centered over sinks, islands, peninsulas, and other food prep areas. Place at least 30-34 inches above counters.

What color temperature is best for kitchens?

Look for warm white or soft white in the 2700K-3000K range. This provides a comfortable ambiance for varied tasks.

How do you mix finishes in kitchen lighting?

Mixing finishes like brass and nickel provides appealing contrast. Keep the number of finishes minimal and match hardware.

Should you put lights under upper cabinets?

Yes, under cabinet lighting illuminates tasks like food prep. Opt for discreet LED strip lighting to reduce shadows.

How do you light a kitchen island?

Use pendant lights centered above the island spaced 30-34 inches from the counter. Include at least 3 fixtures.

What is ambient lighting?

Ambient or general lighting illuminates the entire area. Usually from recessed cans, surface ceiling lights or wall sconces.

What are best lighting brands?

Top brands include Lutron, Philips, Progress Lighting, WAC Lighting and Kichler. Look for quality materials and technology.


Smart kitchen lighting should be multifunctional, providing safety, task visibility, ambiance and style. Careful planning and placement ensures your lighting works optimally for how you cook, dine and live. Mix task, ambient and accent fixtures tailored to your space. Include controls like dimmers, sensors and smart technology for convenience and energy savings. With the right design, your kitchen lighting can meet all functional needs while also creating an inviting, stylish atmosphere. Work with designers and electricians to bring your lighting dreams to life. Your kitchen will shine as a beautiful heart of your home for years to come.