Kitchen Lighting Ideas

More than almost any other room in the house, kitchen lighting has to be practical as well as attractive. Tasks like cooking and day-to-day functions like eating meals all need the right type of light for the job. Remembering the practical requirements of your kitchen, along with your design aesthetic, will help you find the perfect kitchen lighting for you.

A Touch of Pizzazz

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If you love a particular design aesthetic, but don't want your whole kitchen to feel like a throwback, choosing a period-specific lighting fixture can be just the touch you need to set the tone. For example, a screams yet lets the rest of the kitchen take on its own personality.

Rule of Three

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We love an odd number of pendant lights over a kitchen island. Not only does it provide lighting for the entire length of the countertop, it also gives and aesthetic balance that's naturally harmonious.

Coordinate Components

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Always keep in mind the metal finishes that already exist in the room when swapping out or upgrading kitchen lighting. You can coordinate the metal tones of your lights with drawer pulls and faucets to lend a cohesive look to the whole space.

Layers of Light

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Use every layer of light to your advantage in the kitchen. Hanging lights like chandeliers are great over the central island, while lights pointing to the ceiling from the tops of cabinets provide moody ambient light. Undercabinet lighting is also key, improving your workspaces while adding even more general illumination.

Rugged Contemporary

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A modern rustic design plays up the juxtaposition between natural wood elements and metals. For the most successful application of this design aesthetic, coordinate the materials of the lights with finishes in the rest of the room. Use those components sparingly, interspersed throughout where it makes the most dramatic visual impact.

Use Color Consistently

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To keep a cohesive look throughout the kitchen, consider matching the color of your overhead lights with similar colors used throughout the room. Carrying silver and black from your appliances and countertops through into a hanging fixture gives the room a unified impression, tying disparate elements together.

Pick a Featured Element

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If you like a certain design style but don't want that look for your entire kitchen, choose a that can give you a huge visual impact with just a hint of those elements. For example, a contemporary traditional kitchen can be offset by a detailed industrial-modern or rustic farmhouse fixture.

Let Your Lighting Work for You

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For extra light from fewer fixtures, select a design that does some heavy lifting. Prismatic glass is smooth on one side with sharp ridges on the other that both diffuse the light and amplify it. This is ideal for distributing light over a large surface area like a kitchen island, as the fixtures don't need a lot of space to provide a lot of illumination.

Ornamental Lighting

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Along with your practical lighting needs, look for areas where you can add decorative lighting as accents. High cabinets with glass doors that are illuminated from behind provide only a small bit of ambient light but, more importantly, the light draws the eye up and makes the room seem bigger. Similarly, the are much more delightful touch than purposeful illumination.

Make Matches Meaningful

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You can link all the elements of your design together by coordinating different lighting fixtures from within a specific design style or family. By keeping them all similar, it makes the room feel pulled together and purposeful.

Get Even

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You may need more direct task lighting in your kitchen, especially in work areas that involve a lot of cooking, prepping or eating. Directional pendants provide even, strong light over the work surface. Make sure you're spacing the lights out over the entire area to avoid any gaps in the lighting.

Organic Modernism

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For a modern look that isn't all right angles, look for stylized simple pendants in natural shapes with texturing to give it a one-of-a-kind feel. The softness of a naturally rounded shape makes a minimalist aesthetic more accessible, while the texture offers unfussy visual interest.

Good Things, Small Packages

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Don't judge a pendant by its size. A kitchen mini-pendant can still put off plenty of ambient light. If the brightness of these lights is less of a concern, try artistic fixtures that put out a diffuse glow for soft, indirect lighting that can warm up the room.

One Track to Rule Them All

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For some flexibility in hanging pendants, consider fixtures that use a monorail pendant bar. The monorail is mounted to the ceiling, and the pendants can be added and adjusted as needed. This allows for adding or removing pendants and adjusting the spacing and heights without having to drill more holes, remount any fixtures or struggle with your electrical box.

Hold a Candle To it

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Play up a traditional farmhouse-style kitchen with lighting that looks like candles. They give that old-world elegance with a modern wattage and illumination capacity; not to mention a seamless modern look.

Highlight the Unexpected

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Recessed lights are a great source of ambient lighting, whether you have a small kitchen without room for hanging lights or just prefer a clean look. They provide a practical amount of task lighting while still keeping the ceiling smooth and flush, which is especially important in a minimalist modern design.

Know Your Cans

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When looking at can lights for recessed lighting fixtures, there are a few different types to consider. While some are straight columns with structured direct downlight, others have a gimbal, or ball mount, that allows them to be directionally adjusted to focus on a particular area in the kitchen or to put a spotlight on artwork.

Sky's the Limit

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In a kitchen with a low ceiling or where the traffic patterns mean hanging lamps would get in the way, a flushmount ceiling fixture is a great option for a central ambient light source. You can add additional task lighting, like a hood vent light or undercabinet lighting, to supplement the overhead light and balance the space.

Take Your (Color) Temperature

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One thing to consider when adding undercabinet lighting is the level of illumination you want. Do you need bright task light or just a general warm glow? You can choose fixtures that specialize in one or the other, or look for undermount lights that can change the color temperature and intensity at the touch of a button.

Light and White Done Right

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If you have a smaller kitchen, think about adding underccabinet lighting combined with glossy white tile. The shiny tile finish reflects the light and makes the area appear larger while offering practical task lighting for kitchen jobs.

Polish the Edges

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Feature lighting that is curvy or organic feeling can soften the edges of an ultramodern kitchen. A sculptural fixture provides visual impact, almost like a work of art, bringing a creative element to the space. Add in layers of light like recessed lighting to support the additional needs of room if the output of the pendant isn't strong enough.

Hide it Away

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If you're looking for functional lighting that fades into the background, LED linear suspension lamps are a great option. They provide tons of overhead ambient light without an obtrusive silhouette, which works well in a modern kitchen design plan.

Plan of Attack

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When designing a kitchen lighting plan, you'll want to define different areas and determine their lighting needs. Then, layer in a combination of the various types of lights needed. Use either flushmount fixtures or recessed can lights for overall ambient room lighting, then add a pendant or a linear suspension light for diffuse task lighting, which adjusts to the correct height for your particular workspace.

Put it on Repeat

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If you have unusual cabinet layouts, draw additional emphasis to that feature with a light fixture that mirrors the shapes. For example, if the cabinets are laid out horizontally, versus the traditional vertical setup, adding a boxy horizontal or geometrically shaped chandelier feels harmonious and accentuates the cabinet design.

Grab the Spotlight

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Track lighting used to get a bad rap as the bane of good decor. But with modern fixtures that's not the case anymore. Track lighting provides a flexible structure that fits your space and lets you adjust the individual lights to highlight the specific areas that need it. Look for lighting heads with large rotation and pivot ratios to give you the most flexibility in your design.

Kitchen lighting has technical challenges to address regarding how the room is laid out and what functions it serves; kitchen island lighting is wildly different from undercabinet lighting, for instance. Identifying these issues helps you determine the number and type of fixtures that you need. With that information in mind, kitchen lighting provides endless options to suit any design style.