Kitchen wall lighting ideas – 10 must-have looks for today's modern kitchen

Our favorite kitchen wall lighting ideas will bring your cooking, dining and entertaining space into focus

Kitchen wall lighting ideas with an exposed brick wall and wooden shelving
(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Kitchen wall lighting ideas should be at the forefront of every kitchen renovation – the right wall lighting options can add contemporary style and practicality to your space.

Kitchens are the heart of the home and with that comes far more planning and forethought than with a simple boxed-off room for preparing food. 

While the kitchen's prime function is still cooking, it also serves as one of our main entertaining spaces, somewhere to relax with friends or for children to catch up on their homework. More than any other room in the house, it is crucial to invest in flexible kitchen lighting ideas that can cope with every scenario and function. 

'Often, kitchen wall lighting can be the last thing considered in kitchen design,' says Andrew Hall, managing director of Woodstock Furniture. 'However, for a kitchen to look its best and function perfectly, the space must be lit properly.' 

Kitchen wall lighting ideas – modern looks to illuminate your space

Remember to plan well in advance with kitchen wall lighting. Experts agree that the best time to install a new wall lighting scheme is before you start to redecorate or during the initial stages of a new kitchen design, when you are still exploring a variety of kitchen ideas

If left as an afterthought, wall lighting possibilities are limited, impact is lessened and mistakes can be costly and disruptive to put right.

1. Make a feature of your kitchen wall light

Kitchen wall lighting ideas with black wall downlight in a white kitchen with pastel pink accents.

(Image credit: Future / Carolyn Barber)

When choosing kitchen lighting, Peter Bowles, managing director of Original BTC and Davey Lighting, advises: 'Match the style of your light fittings to your kitchen – interesting wall light fittings will stop your kitchen looking overly clinical.

'Prismatic glass and bone china work wonderfully in country style kitchens, metal lights give an industrial flavour and brightly-painted pendants bring an often-needed pop of color.' Here, an industrial-style light sits beautifully alongside a collection of display plates for added intrigue. 

2. Use wall lighting in a small kitchen

Downlighting as an example of kitchen wall lighting ideas in a small kitchen with gray tiles, a vase of flowers and a painting.

(Image credit: Future/Paul Raeside)

'The perfect height of lights depends on two factors: the height of the people living in the house and the height of the ceilings,' says Kenny Collins, chairman of The Lighting Store. 

'Wall lights work well in a small kitchen, especially ones with little natural light.' Use wall lighting to add subtle light and interest to art and statement countertops in a small kitchen design, as shown above.

3. Consider where you need the light most

Kitchen wall lighting above wooden open shelves on an exposed brick wall.

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

A good kitchen lighting system needs at least two elements: bright, shadow-free, task light for safe cooking and preparation, and atmospheric illumination to create mood, highlight architectural features and make the room feel less functional. 

‘Look at the areas of your kitchen and think about the activities that will happen in each space,’ advises interior designer, Sarah Ward – great advice when considering how to plan kitchen lighting.

Here, a row of exposed bulb wall lighting not only lights the work space below, but also introduces an element of industrial style to this modern rustic kitchen. 

4. Illuminate a display with kitchen wall lighting

Kitchen wall lighting ideas above open shelving in a neutral kitchen.

(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin)

Many kitchens now include a multifunction island unit, complete with appliances, sinks and a seating area. With limited wall cupboards to work with, wall-mounted lights are the ideal solution – and they look great hung above open-shelving to illuminate a display.

'However, exposed light fittings tend to collect the grime that cooking creates so, if possible, opt for recessed or semi-recessed fittings,’ advises John Cullen’s design director, Sally Storey.

5. Employ the rule of three when it comes to lighting

Blue kitchen with marble counters and bronze wall lights

(Image credit: Future)

Boost the impact of statement kitchen wall lights by arranging them in a row along a wall above a table or work area. Odd numbers work best; opt for three or five depending on the area and size of your space.

6. Rework a modern classic

Kitchen wall lighting ideas with box light fixture in a white metro tiled kitchen with dark blue cabinetry.

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

Currently, the most popular modern kitchen lighting options are actually re-workings of traditional fittings. 

One of the top selling light bulbs over the past year has been the box lamp with exposed bulb. The filament in the bulb gives a soft warm glow and is designed to be seen directly. The lights can either be suspended from the ceiling as naked bulbs in clusters, or used with as box fixtures or directional lights on walls.

7. Go big when it comes to wall lighting

A country-style kitchen with statement lighting ideas and a brown wooden island.

(Image credit: deVOL)

To make a bold statement, either use a really decorative light fitting which is a feature in its own right, or opt for much more discreet lighting to highlight an architectural feature. 

Another easy way to create drama is to use recessed uplights to skim light over a textured wall, the jambs of a fireplace or even columns.

8. Illuminate a narrow or small kitchen

Kitchen wall lighting ideas with industrial lamps, blue cabinetry and a round table with yellow chairs.

(Image credit: Future / Jonathan Gooch)

Wall lights are a brilliant – and beautiful – option for dark, narrow kitchens.

But if you think your room is too compact for statement wall light fixtures, think again. A clever small kitchen lighting idea is to trick the eye into thinking your space is much larger than it actually is with oversized fittings. Here, two large metal lamps are a real showstopper.

9. Wash the walls

Kitchen wall lighting ideas with grey walls, a stone island and metal fixtures.

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Using multi-direction fittings to wash walls in light will emphasise interesting surface textures and can help visually widen a narrow space.

10. Invest in accent lighting for your kitchen

White walls and accent lamps illustrating kitchen wall lighting ideas.

(Image credit: Future / Rachel Smith)

A final layer to your scheme should be accent lighting that guides the eye and creates points of interest around the room – it also adds to the overall light level when combined with just ambient lighting such as a pendant over a table. Accent lighting might consist of lighting on shelving, in cupboards, niches or other kitchen storage solutions.

What is the best type of lighting for a kitchen?

Like any other room, kitchens need good general lighting. Increasingly, kitchens aren't solely for working and need effective ambient lighting for different times of the day. 

When working out how much light your kitchen needs, first look at how much natural light the room gets by noting the number of windows and which way they face. Then think about how this can be enhanced with artificial lighting.

Wall lights and wall washers create a subtle form of background light. They are good for creating mood lighting in areas of the kitchen that are used for relaxing. For high ceilings, using uplighters on top of the kitchen cabinets will add to the general light while reducing the number of downlights you'll need.

How do I light my kitchen in style?

If you want to highlight a special feature of your kitchen – say a piece of art or a collection of vintage china – consider adding an extra layer of feature or accent lighting. 

Kitchen wall lights hung above a piece of art – or a treasured ceramic collection – emit a gentle wash of light across the countertop and highlight beautiful marble or wood surfaces. Try a green or blue light for a really dramatic statement, or use wall lighting to enhance your kitchen colour scheme.

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. 

Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.