Kitchen lighting ideas – to set the scene for cooking, eating and entertaining

Cleverly planned illumination that will bring your kitchen out of the shadows.

The kitchen’s primary function may still be cooking, but it increasingly serves as one of the main entertaining spaces in the home. The right kitchen lighting can deliver several levels of brightness, make a space feel larger and dramatically alter the mood and feel of a room. Investing in a scheme that provides both effective task lighting and creates the perfect ambience is essential.

‘Often, 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 well, the space must be lit properly.’ Experts agree that the best time to install a new lighting scheme is way back at the planning stage, as you are signing off your kitchen drawings. Leave it until later and it becomes an afterthought with limited possibilities.

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There are three main types of lighting: task, mood and feature, and the most successful kitchen schemes include all three. Task lights are the brightest and target the working areas such as preparation surfaces, cooker and sink, while mood lighting, which is soft and diffused, is used to create ambience. Feature lighting can refer to the fitting itself, which makes a statement whether it is on or off, or to something interesting, such as a colour-changing system, in-cupboard illumination or plinth-level lighting, which adds an extra dimension but is not essential. ‘Always opt for more light sources rather than brighter ones, and set decorative and mood lighting on dimmers, so they can be adjusted with ease,’ advises Giovanni Corrado of Baroncelli, baroncelli.com.

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However adventurous you would like to be with your scheme, it’s crucial to establish your budget early. As a general rule, John Cullen, johncullenlighting.co.uk, recommends spending as much on your kitchen’s lighting as you do on the flooring.

Energy saver

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Energy saver

Incorporate LEDs at multiple levels to flood your kitchen in light, without costing the earth. LEDs are by far the most energy-efficient option, lasting at least 20,000 hours or ten years. Look for those with warm colour rendition to avoid a clinical feel. A 12W cluster LED spotlight compares in warmth and brightness to a 50W halogen spotlight.

Dynamic trio

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Dynamic trio

Boost the impact of statement pendants by arranging them in a row along the length of an island or table. Odd numbers work best; opt for three or five depending on the area.

Great lengths

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Great lengths

In a room with a high ceiling, lower-level pendants work especially well above an island or dining table, where they won’t cause an obstruction.

Light show

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Light show

'Never feel too compelled to have a light in the centre of a ceiling. Install several lights and ensure they are given specific tasks. If the dining table is likely to be in the corner of the kitchen, hang a pendant over there. It’s more functional and looks more considered,' says Busola Evans, Kitchen and Bathroom Supplement Editor.

Light show

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Light show

'Never feel too compelled to have a light in the centre of a ceiling. Install several lights and ensure they are given specific tasks. If the dining table is likely to be in the corner of the kitchen, hang a pendant over there. It’s more functional and looks more considered,' says Busola Evans, Kitchen and Bathroom Supplement Editor.

Arty installation

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Arty installation

Lighting should not just be thought of as purely practical. It can also be used to add a dynamic look to your kitchen. Striking pendants is mismatched styles provide a design feature that captures the imagination.

Wall factor

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Wall factor

'The perfect height of lights depends on two factors: the height of the people living in the house and the height of the ceilings. Wall lights work well in a small kitchen, especially ones with little natural light,' says Kenny Collins, chairman, The Lighting Store.

Star quality

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Star quality

The saying 'go big or go home' might be the mantra of the youth, and it certainly rings true for the kitchen. 'There’s a real trend for architectural lighting in kitchens right now, big pendants with several arms, and they make a real statement. Ensure that they hang at least two metres above the island or table,' explains Sarah Spiteri, Editorial Director, Homes & Gardens.

Showstopper

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

Showstopper

A good, well-thought-out lighting scheme can make all the difference in a kitchen. 'Match the style of your light fittings to your kitchen – interesting light fittings will stop your kitchen looking overly clinical. Prismatic glass and bone china work wonderfully in country style kitchens, metallic pendants give an industrial flavour and brightly- painted pendants bring an often-needed pop of colour,' enthuses Peter Bowles, managing director, Original BTC and Davey Lighting.