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Lightbulb Moment: Is It Time To Rethink Your Kitchen Lighting?

September 1, 2017

There’s a reason good photographers are obsessed with light. The way something is lit can completely change the way it’s seen. Great lighting can turn the boring and mundane into the sparkly and jaw-dropping.

Whether you’re doing a full remodel or just looking for some small ways to ramp up your kitchen, lighting is one of the most important and most often overlooked aspects of kitchen design. So if you’re thinking of changing up the lighting in your kitchen, here are some great kitchen lighting tips to keep in mind at any budget.


Kitchen and Bathroom Lighting

First things first. There are different types of light.

Not every light serves the same purpose. Task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting all achieve different results, and a combination is the best way to achieve a well-lit kitchen.

Here’s the bad news: the singular, ceiling-mounted light fixtures so common in older homes aren’t terribly effective. So if that’s what you have, it’s time to mix it up!

Ambiance Lighting

Singular overhead fixtures and pendant lights are typically ambiance lighting. Great for when the cooking and food prep are done and you just need general light in the room, or you have guests milling around.

But besides large singular fixtures, recessed lighting a great way to add brightness to your kitchen and eliminate the shadows that so frequently plague kitchen prep. Space them four to six feet apart. Most modern kitchens have started incorporating recessed lighting for a reason. You’ll wonder how you ever cooked without them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

And the number one tip for ambient lights in your kitchen? Put them on a dimmer. You’ll be patting yourself on the back for years.

Task Lighting

Under-cabinet lights are a prime example of task lighting. These small lights illuminate specific areas that you commonly use, such as countertops for food prep, sinks, or stoves (if you don’t have a hood with a light).

Task lights are optimally placed between your head and the workspace, which is why under-cabinet lights are the most common version. But there are creative alternatives if you’d like to light something that isn’t under a cabinet. Track lighting offers another popular solution (but make sure you pay attention to bulb choice!).

Remember - while ambient lighting works best as warm, soft tones, task lighting can and should be bright enough to give you full sight of your prep and workspace.

Accent Lighting

If you have a glass cabinet full of your grandmother’s beautiful, flawless china, adding an accent light to show it off can really spruce up your kitchen. Or a piece of artwork you’d like to highlight. Or anything, really, that you’d like to draw attention to your kitchen. Accent lighting gives some dimension to your kitchen and sends eyes where you want them to go (not to the cluttered pantry or sink full of dirty dishes. Shhh - we won’t tell!).

Get Creative!

As always, we love to see homeowners get creative and think about what will really serve their family-specific needs. Here are some creative lighting ideas we love!


  • Floor-level lights. Just like under-cabinet lighting is great for tasks, those same strips applied under the baseboards of your cabinets or islands offer unique ambient lighting at night.
  • Motion sensors. Whether it’s a specific task light or floor-level ambient lighting, motion sensors don’t just have to be for security anymore. Let your lights shine the way to midnight snacking.
  • Get creative with bulbs. Different watts, tones and bulb types (LED strips, halogens, incandescents) all generate different styles of light.
  • Don’t ignore your kitchen’s natural light. You want lighting that compliments areas of natural light while compensating for its loss after sunset. Also, your windows will affect lighting, so explore window options.
  • Statement fixtures. Show off your style.
  • LED lighting inside cabinets for those hard-to-see areas or “I know I put that back there!” moments.
  • Island lighting. An installed kitchen island offers great options for creative ways to introduce additional lights. Don’t overlook these opportunities!


Your Well-Lit Kitchen

Is there anything better than a delicious home-cooked meal in a well-lit kitchen? From prep to dining to clean-up to just hanging out, proper lighting can make the time you spend in your kitchen enjoyable and more efficient.

Related Topics: Bath, Interior Design Tips, Kitchen