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How to Choose Kitchen Lights

How to Choose Kitchen Lights

How to choose kitchen lights...

The first thing to think about when looking at kitchen lighting is what you need it for.

  • Just cooking
  • Cooking and eating
  • Entertaining guests

A kitchen used primarily for cooking may only require more simple fittings, and some task lighting in areas where food is prepared. If you do a lot of entertaining in your kitchen, or would like a more peaceful dining atmosphere, choose more attractive fittings that can be used with dimmer switches, or use a few different styles of fitting, so that some can be switched off.

How light can be used in the kitchen.

Kitchen lighting is incredibly versatile, and you can mix it up in many ways. Most modern kitchens will be fitted with several different varieties of lighting.

  • Task Lighting: Lighting under cabinets, over work surfaces and cookers. Basically any light that aids you in a task.
  • Accent Lighting: Lighting parts of the kitchen you want the eye to be drawn to. This could be a display cabinet, picture, table or kitchen island.
  • One Versatile Fitting: Spotlights and Track Lights are ideal where budgets (or kitchens) are small. Available on a round plate, straight or curvy bar, they feature multiple lights that can be adjusted to suit you.
  • Discreet Lighting: Ceiling Downlights are completely recessed and retain the smooth ceiling. Ideal for a modernistic approach they are great paired with under cabinet lights, where only the light output and not the fitting can be seen.
  • Decorative Lighting: Great for a big kitchen. Use elaborate pendant lights or even a chandelier over kitchen islands and dining tables for a decorative and glamorous touch. Chandeliers are great for achieving the coveted 'shabby chic' look in any room.

Under Cabinet Lights are a great choice for task lighting and adding a subtle glow over the kitchen, whilst Over Cabinet lights are ideally suited to rooms with high ceilings to add light spill over a desired area. They help make a room look bigger and more relaxed too.

10686-1 Splashproof Pendant Light, Antique Brass Chandelier, Shiny Chrome Pendant.

Pendant Lights for use over dining tables, kitchen islands, or work surfaces. A splash proof pendant is suited to areas where it could come in to contact with water such as over cookers or sinks. Chandeliers add a touch of glamour to a kitchen, or can be used as a focal point over a dining table.

Spotlights and Downlights suit almost any kitchen and are available in a range of styles and designs. While typically high energy fittings, LED fittings or LED bulbs are now available for most. Fire Rated Downlights  are recommended for use all over the house, offering protection to the upper floors of the house in the event of a fire.

What shape is your kitchen?

Choose lights that are a similar shape and style to your kitchen. If it is long and narrow, choose track lights, long spotlight bars or a row of downlights. Don't clutter a very small kitchen with too many fittings or styles. Large kitchens will suit round spotlight plates or wavy bars, and they can also be filled with contrasting styles.

A few examples...

We scoured the internet and found a few kitchens with great and not so great lighting schemes, so you can see for yourself what will work for you.


A long, narrow kitchen fitted with directional spotlights. Under cabinet lighting would be lost with the high cupboards. Because of the high ceiling in this room, a good alternative to the spotlight bar would be over cabinet lights, which are fantastic at making a room look bigger and cosier.


A kitchen that could benefit from both under and over cabinet lighting. As the whole kitchen is in one corner, you will need as much light over it as possible, rather than lighting all the empty space around it. The shelf behind the cooker would be a perfect focal point for under cabinet lights, which would also benefit the cooker. The strange shape of the kitchen would suit a round plate or bar spotlight and you could also use ceiling downlights above the cabinets.

4With such large windows, this kitchen will receive a lot of light in the day time. Round downlights light the entire room and cabinet lights the counter, while the decorative pendant lights make the central island the focal point of the kitchen. Kitchen islands are often used for both preparing and eating food, so choose a light that is well suited to both tasks and doesn't produce too much distracting glare.


The ideal kitchen and dining room. Unobtrusive downlights light the whole room, and the chandelier helps to separate the dining table from the kitchen. This kitchen may benefit from under cabinet lights on the left side away from the dining table. With the abundance of furniture and other light sources, pendant lighting over the breakfast bar area would make the kitchen look mismatched and cluttered.

KitchenA small but stunning kitchen with lights designed to draw the eye towards the centre. Clean, unfussy fittings stop the room looking too cluttered, and plenty of light balances the dark wooden cabinets. Cabinet lights are used to great effect in small, dark kitchens by preventing dark corners which can often be rendered useless. The ceiling lights could be turned off to create a dimmer, more romantic atmosphere.

Whatever your budget, there is an enormous range of kitchen lights to help you find your perfect style. Don't be shy about checking out lighting displays, home improvement and home decoration blogs, and even your neighbours house! Inspiration can be found everywhere, the important part is making it work for you.


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