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

Our kitchen lighting ideas offer cleverly planned illumination inspiration, that will bring your room out of the shadows.

Kitchen lighting ideas
(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

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 kitchen idea 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.

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.

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.

1. Add industrial accents

modern kitchen with industrial lighting

(Image credit: Martin Moore )

Industrial styles have become increasingly popular over recent years, with metallic accents and concrete surfaces cropping up more and more. These metal trapeze lights give this classic Tom Howley kitchen an urban edge.

2. Go for gold

gold lighting in kitchen

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Gold lights have incredible reflective properties and are ideal for bouncing light around the room. They are also a brilliant addition to a darker color scheme, as they help to lift and lighten a room - as seen in this stunning Tom Howley kitchen.

Looking for more paint ideas? Check out our kitchen color ideas

3. Mix and match vintage finds

devol green kitchen

(Image credit: DeVOL)

This Classic English Kitchen by DeVOL uses mismatching vintage-style pendants to create a totally unique lighting solution. Sometimes venturing back to previous eras works well - even in more contemporary kitchens.

4. Charm with a chandelier

kitchen lighting

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Chandelier lights are brilliant for adding a sense of occasion to an entertaining space. 

What's more, not only do chandelier crystal droplets look visually pleasing, but they also shimmer and reflect light, casting it around the space.

If you're thinking of going bigger and bolder with your space, like this gorgeous Tom Howley kitchen, be sure to explore our kitchen extension ideas.

5. Love linear lights

DeVOL kitchen with linear lights

(Image credit: DeVOL)

Linear lights can be a great modern kitchen idea, as they are in-keeping with the streamline nature and clean lines typically found in them.

Whether it's a strip light or a parallel rows of spotlights, there are so many ways this linear look can be achieved - as seen in this gorgeous Sebastian Cox Kitchen by deVOL. It's also a great solution for kitchen island lighting.

6. Make your island shine bright

devol kitchen

(Image credit: DeVOL)

One way to add a little more drama to a kitchen is to showcase your island. A way to do this is to have pendant drop-down lights solely over your kitchen island and ceiling spotlights throughout the rest of the room. This means all the attention will be on this central hub - where you're most likely to be cooking and entertaining anyway.

This Classic English Kitchen by DeVOL does exactly that.

7. Go back to basics with single bulbs

DeVOL kitchen with light bulb light

(Image credit: DeVOL)

Exposed bulb lights have been everywhere the past few years and give an industrial look to a space. We love these bulb pendant lights in this DeVOL Real Shaker Kitchen.

8. Be an energy saver

modern kitchen

(Image credit: Future/Richard Powers)

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.

9. Creat a dynamic trio

Tom Howley blue kitchen with three lights over island

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

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.

10. Go to great lengths

wooden lights in kitchen

(Image credit: Future/Richard Powers)

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.

If you're a fan of this kitchen layout, our L-shaped kitchen ideas have plenty more to offer. 

11. Put on a light show

three different kitchen lights

(Image credit: Future/Mark Bolton)

'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.

12. Add an arty installation

hanging kitchen lights

(Image credit: Future/Davide Lovatti)

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.

If you're a fan of this layout, be sure to dive into our open-plan kitchen ideas.

13. Get the wall factor

wall lighting

(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. Wall lights work well in a small kitchen, especially ones with little natural light,' says Kenny Collins, chairman, The Lighting Store.

If you're working with limited space, our small kitchen ideas have plenty to offer.

14. Show off star quality

hanging black lights in kitchen

(Image credit: Future/Mark Bolton)

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.

15. Create the ultimate showstopper

statement kitchen lighting above island

(Image credit: Future/Jonathan Gooch)

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.