How to Choose the Best Lighting for Your Kitchen

How to Choose the Best Lighting for Your Kitchen

From early morning till late at night, your kitchen serves as a place to eat, socialize, and work. Light plays a key role in the functionality, ambience, and character of your kitchen. So how do you choose the best lighting for your kitchen?

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • 3 main types of kitchen lighting;
  • 6 areas of your kitchen that need lighting; and
  • Key components of perfect kitchen lighting.

We’ll also give you some tips for choosing the best lighting for your kitchen.

3 Types of Lighting Your Kitchen Needs

A well-lit kitchen is crucial considering all the ways you use the space. It’s a social hub in your home, a transit zone, a workspace, and a display area for decor. 

A multi-purpose space requires multi-purpose lighting. A single light fixture simply cannot do it all in your kitchen. 

Proper kitchen lighting uses a layered approach. Let’s look at the 3 layers of lighting your kitchen needs:

  1. Ambient lighting
  2. Task lighting
  3. Accent lighting

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is sometimes called “general lighting”. It’s soft, gentle light that fills the room and reinforces the natural light your kitchen gets from windows. 

The basic function of this type of kitchen lighting is to illuminate the room to make it easy to enter, exit, or navigate the space. 

Ambient light fixtures include overhead recessed lights, flush-mount or semi-flush-mount fixtures, chandeliers, wall sconces, or pendant lights that hang from the ceiling. 

Because ambient lights are meant to light up the room, it’s best to position them in the center of the ceiling, above the island, or around the perimeter of the room. 

Task lighting

Task lighting is vital for functionality and safety in your kitchen. It’s brighter than ambient lighting and intended to illuminate work areas. 

Pendant lights above your kitchen sink or other food prep areas improve precision and safety while you cook and clean. 

Under-cabinet lighting illuminates your countertops, and in-cabinet lighting (such as your pantry) makes it easier to store and retrieve food and other kitchen items. 

Accent lighting

Accent lighting is kitchen eye candy. It’s decorative, adding depth and dimension to the space. It’s often used to highlight special features in your kitchen.

Examples of accent lighting include:

  • Cove lights in the ceiling to accent decorative ceiling tiles
  • Puck lights under cabinets to showcase countertop decor
  • Backlit cabinets to illuminate china, tea sets, or other showpieces

6 Areas of Your Kitchen to Light Up

Layering your kitchen lighting is only part of a well-lit kitchen. Those 3 light layers need to illuminate specific areas. 

  1. Sink: Support lighting is necessary for tasks like dishwashing and food prep
  2. Island: Extra lighting above the island is essential for prepping, cooking, and serving meals
  3. Counter: Under-counter lighting makes it easier to see what’s in your drawers and cabinets
  4. Toekick: Lights underneath your base cabinets illuminate the floor in the dark
  5. Cabinets: Glass-front display cabinets with lights create visual interest and depth
  6. Dining Nook: Any eating area needs lighting to add a welcoming aesthetic

3 Key Components of Perfect Kitchen Lighting

A lack of natural light isn’t the only culprit in a dim kitchen. The wrong type of lighting or lighting in the wrong location can be a big part of the problem. 

The best lighting in your kitchen has a lot to do with lighting placement, size, and type. Consider these 3 key components of perfect kitchen lighting.

1. Size & Space

If a light fixture is too large for your kitchen, it’ll overwhelm the space. If the fixture is too small, it’ll get lost. Also, if a light is hung too low, people bump their heads and your kitchen feels cramped.

You can test out the placement of a light fixture by hanging a piece of paper or balloon where you think the fixture should go. Does it seem proportionate to the size of your kitchen?

2. Finish

The finish of your light fixtures will largely be determined by your kitchen design style. For example, brass is more traditional and adds warmth, while polished chrome and nickel suit more contemporary styles.

For a polished, streamlined look, keep the finishes of all light fixtures similar. For a more eclectic vibe, mix your lighting finishes. 

An alternative to mixed lighting fixture finishes is to use a single finish for all light fixtures and a different finish for all your kitchen hardware. 

3. Shade

The type of shade you choose for your kitchen light fixtures changes the look and feel of the lighting.

  • Clear glass shades fill your space with bright ambient light. This type of shade works well with filament bulbs. 
  • Translucent fixtures hide the bulbs while providing a glow.
  • Metal shades are an excellent choice for task lighting because they focus light in specific areas. 
  • Fabric shades are more decorative and work well above a dining space. If you place a fabric fixture above a stove or sink, the moisture can damage the shades.

3 Tips for Choosing Your Kitchen Lighting

Your kitchen lighting can draw people in by creating an inviting environment. Proper lighting can also make your kitchen feel more spacious, even if the room is small. 

These tips can help you choose the best lighting for your kitchen.

1. Look Beyond Your Kitchen

Especially in an open floor plan, your kitchen lighting should coordinate with the styles in the rest of your home. The light fixtures in your kitchen don’t have to match or be exactly the same as the fixtures in other rooms of your house, but there should be a recognizable theme or flow. 

How to Choose the Best Lighting for Your Kitchen

2. Use Natural Light

Take advantage of any natural lighting your kitchen receives. Consider a skylight or larger windows for extra warmth and to support your light fixtures. Or incorporate unique windows like porthole or clerestory windows to bring light in from high spaces on your walls.

3. Control Your Lighting

Plan your lighting controls to allow you to choose your lighting configuration based on your need at the moment. Different light combinations set the mood of your kitchen. Dimmer switches allow you to have a warm glow for an evening tea or romantic dinner, and bright lights for food preparation and cleaning. 

An Expert to Help You Choose Your Kitchen Lighting

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the best lighting for your kitchen. It’s not an element of your new home or renovation to overlook or save for the last minute. 

Need help to choose your kitchen lighting? The designers at Riverstone Kitchens & Renovations can help you select the best lighting for your kitchen. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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