Light Up Your Kitchen Design

By McDaniels Kitchens and Bath|Kitchen Design

The kitchen is the heart of the home, hosting a multitude of activities, so lighting design is of utmost importance. Modern kitchen design incorporates more than cooking and dining areas. With layouts, storage and functionality built into a kitchen remodel for our every need, lighting design must be multi-purposed and layered to perform key tasks while also being stylish and inviting.  There’s a huge selection of lighting options to highlight, soften and zone areas but remember to keep it simple and that some lighting fixtures can serve multiple purposes. Simple shouldn’t mean boring though, so let’s find out how your kitchen lighting can be fun, functional and relaxing.


Task lighting for busy areas is the first port of call in your kitchen design lighting. Choose specific lighting to go under kitchen cabinets, over an island, by the sink and range and in designated work spaces, but make sure they are well-placed to avoid glare or shadows. Lights near cooktops should fit flush to the ceiling or wall to make them easier to clean. Spotlights and natural light sources from the ceiling skylights need to be planned at the early stages of your kitchen remodel, and can also provide valuable task lighting. Don’t forget other areas like a beverage bar and your pantry will need bright lights too.


Ambient lighting is used in kitchen design to create a warm and inviting space, but also to differentiate areas.  Open floor plans allow a flow from one section to another and at a party, ambient lighting will attract people to an island or another designated entertainment zone to socialize. Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures when combined with a dimmer switch, pendant lighting or adjustable track lighting all humanize a space. Having a number of different light sources throughout the room gives a three-dimensional feel and allows you to individually control the light levels in whichever area you require. Colored lights and dimmer switches can instantly change the mood of a room such as lowering the lighting in the cooking area when you’re in the dining area.  Ambient lighting on walls or over kitchen cabinets can also make your kitchen feel larger and draw the eye upward toward high ceilings. Add candles and lanterns to introduce a relaxing atmosphere.


Accent lighting is becoming more popular as people increasingly use their kitchens for entertaining.   As your kitchen is the perfect place to express your style through color schemes with cabinetry, tile design or artwork, this type of lighting is essential to showcase your favorite design features or art.  Planning early during the kitchen design process will give you a variety of options such as track lighting (carefully positioned to avoid glare), uplighters, wall sconces, pendants, or anything that spotlights a particular kitchen design element.

Accent lighting inside glass front cabinets will shine beautifully over pieces on display. Remember, especially with artwork, that the color of light from different fittings can vary, so light sources should be tested before buying to be sure they are highlighting the original color scheme.


Decorative light fixtures such as chandeliers, lanterns or pendants express your personal style, while still providing an ambient or task light source. This can be the most expensive element of the lighting design process and one that will influence the overall style of your kitchen remodel, so plan carefully with your kitchen design professional which fixtures you will include and where they will be positioned. Exposed bulbs in clear or amber glass give vintage charm to your kitchen design, chandeliers offer a traditional glamor, and oversized lights with lampshades give a kitchen design a cozy, elegant feel. The main thing to note is that these lighting focal points should fit the look and size of your kitchen design.


Light fixtures are often multi-functional, so they should work together, ensuring all areas of your kitchen are well lit.  For example, decorative pendant lights over an island provide task lighting for food preparation as well as ambient lighting when used with a dimmer switch.  Also think about in-cabinet or toe kick lights, which are subtle layers giving wow-factor to your lighting design.  Budget allowing, why not include smart home technology with a scene integration system, enabling several scenarios to be pre-set with individual lighting levels? At the click of a button you can change your lighting design from food preparation to entertaining mode!

Planning at the kitchen design stage will let you avail of the many lighting options out there, to add subtle sophistication and provide for every practicality in your kitchen. Click here to explore great lighting ideas in our kitchen design gallery or contact us today to be illuminated by our lighting options.