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A Lighting Plan For Your Kitchen

April 23, 20132 comments

The lighting in a kitchen can really have a large impact both functionally and decoratively. There are three types of lighting that are used to light a space well: ambient (or general), task lighting and accent lighting. A sound lighting plan uses all three sources of light. A great lighting plan can often go unnoticed, everything just feels right. When there isn’t enough light to perform a task, or when the light sources produce too much glare, it’s hard to focus on anything else!

Ambient Lighting

Modern dark kitchen with general ambient lighting

Can lights bring bright warm light to this modern space.

Ambient lighting provides a space with overall light. Usually this lighting comes from above, whether it’s from recessed cans spaced evenly throughout the room or from a chandelier. Sometimes the light fixture or fixtures hung over an island can serve as both ambient and task lighting. If recessed cans aren’t an option for you, flush or semi-flush mount fixtures can also be great sources of ambient lighting.

Task Lighting


Traditional white kitchen with task lighting

Task lighting illuminates the counter area and adds depth to this area.

Task lighting is just what it sounds like, it provides light to perform specific tasks. In the kitchen, task lighting helps you prepare food at the chopping board, read a recipe, do homework, etc. The best task lighting in a kitchen is under-cabinet lighting. It’s a great solution because the actual light source is hidden from sight. When a light bulb (called a lamp in the lighting world) is seen by the human eye, it can create glare, which is uncomfortable and can hinder our ability to see. Whenever we can, we want to avoid glare. When implementing under-cabinet lighting you can either place the strip of lighting at the back of the cabinet or at the very front. Often the cabinet manufacturer will offer an apron that is placed at the front of the upper cabinet that hides the fixture. As mentioned above, when you hang pendants or chandeliers above center islands or peninsulas you shed light directly on the work surface, providing additional task lighting.

Accent Lighting


White kitchen with white pendant accent lights

Pendant lights brighten the kitchen and add visual interest.

Accent lighting is the third type of lighting to consider when lighting your kitchen. Accent lighting creates drama or visual interest in a space. It can be implemented by hiding rope lighting on top of your upper cabinets, creating a soft glow between the cabinets and the ceiling. Recessed cans aimed at art on the wall is another form of accent lighting. Wall sconces flanking a window above a sink is a unique way to create drama, as well as task lighting.

Next time you are flipping through a Kitchen Magazine, take a moment to study how each kitchen is lit. A good lighting plan involves so much more than what the actual light fixture looks like. If you’d like more information on interior lighting visit You’ll find a wealth of information on lighting, energy efficiency, and proper disposal tips as well.

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Showing 2 comments

  1. Hinkley Lighting Reply

    yes i the post as well, very informative. would love to apply that at home.

  2. Mark@ Kitchen Remodeling Miami Reply

    I really love this post. Thanks for the information about lighting for the kitchen. Personally, I like the under-cabinet lighting because the light source is hidden from my eyes.

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