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How to choose kitchen lighting, with advice from the experts

This expert advice on how to choose kitchen lighting will help you deliver a well thought out lighting scheme, with the right brightness levels as and where you need them

An example of how to choose kitchen lighting with pendant lights over a marble counter with dark blue cabinetry.
(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Knowing how to choose kitchen lighting can completely transform a space, offering flexible living space whilst enhancing the practicality of any kitchen.

However, kitchen lighting ideas are too often one of the last things people consider when thinking about kitchens.

How to choose kitchen lighting

With numerous kitchen ideas and possibilities available for homeowners, Head of Retail and Commercial Design at Life Kitchens, Graeme Smith, shares his top tips to consider when planning kitchen lighting and choosing the perfect lighting scheme.

1. Tackle task lighting

Off white kitchen cabinetry with task lighting.

Task lighting is an essential addition to a kitchen's design. Commonly integrated above working areas or beneath wall cabinets and other kitchen storage ideas, LED lights provide much-needed visibility when preparing food or doing day-to-day tasks. Providing another layer of interest to the space, the lights will also help to zone cooking areas and add to the overall feel of the room.

2. Brighten with back lighting

Back lighting in a modern grey kitchen as an example of how to choose kitchen lighting.

Back lighting is the perfect option to add to the aesthetics of a kitchen. The LED strips that are typically used are not designed to be a functional element, but it can give extra visibility to the worktops. 

Usually positioned behind certain surfaces or backsplashes, the modern kitchen lighting acts as a dynamic centrepiece. In addition, when other lights in the room are dimmed, the back light will project a beautiful soft hue.

3. Make the most of mood lighting

Black cabinetry in a white kitchen with pendant lights over a breakfast bar.

Mood lighting is great for adding character as well as depth and dimension. Available in many different styles, there is the option for cabinet lighting, plinth lighting, pendants, kitchen wall lighting and more. 

To create a warm atmosphere in the evening, choose lights that can be transitioned from cool to warm. Offering versatility, the adjustable tone means that it can be cool when cooking and warm when dining or entertaining.

4. Focus on feature and accent lighting

An example of how to choose kitchen lighting with pendant lights over a marble counter with dark blue cabinetry.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

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 or in niches. Lights built into the plinth of a central island or a single run of units give a gentle wash of light across the floor to make the cabinetry look like it’s floating, while a run of LED lights under the rim of an island worktop make this an inviting space to be drawn to, especially if there are bar stools here.