How To Light The Kitchen

To shed some light on the question of how to light your kitchen, you must consider 4 things: work areas, eating/entertaining areas, general traffic spaces, and accent lighting for a little drama.

1. In order to prevent shadows, lights should be placed over top of the work surfaces. A center of the room ceiling fixture cannot do this. Every work surface needs to be lit: cabinet tops by under-cabinet lights, islands and sinks by hanging pendants, lanterns, or recessed lights, and the kitchen desk. Make sure the lighting is placed where your body won’t block it when you are working.

Canopy Glass Island Chandelier

Heritage Hanging Lantern

Colored Seeded Glass Pendants

Colored Seeded Glass Pendants

2. Place hanging fixtures with multiple bulbs over eating tables. Several bulbs will always give you the maximum flexibility where you need it. Make sure the fixture is on a dimmer to allow for different functions (reading the newspaper, romantic dining, homework, etc.)

Downlight Kitchen Chandelier

Cherry Bar Chandelier

Create Your Look Island Chandelier

Create Your Look Island Chandelier

3. General or ambient lighting helps to fill in the gaps in traffic spaces. Recessed lights are great for this purpose. Put these on a dimmer as well to allow for proper light levels from cleaning to dining.

Square Adapter for Recessed Light

Magic Pendant Light Hardware

Trellis Linen Drum Shade Pendant

Trellis Linen Drum Shade Pendant

4.Accent lighting in the kitchen can include lights inside the cabinets (open or with glass doors), picture or sculpture lights, cover lighting, lighting above the cabinets, kickplate lighting under the cabinets (makes a great nightlight), or simply a fun or decorative wall sconce that is simply art itself!

Cone Pivot Shade Wall Lamp

Modern Classic Wall Sconce

In total, you should have at least 2.5 watts per square foot of incandescent light or the equivalent (or 40 lumens per square foot).

Clear Glass Globe Industrial

Clear Glass Globe Industrial

Mercury Glass Bulb Pendant

Mercury Glass Bulb Pendant

Rectangle Radiator Screen Pendant

Rectangle Radiator Screen Pendant

4 Responses to “How To Light The Kitchen”

  1. Donna Kuchtyak says:

    Is ” heritage hanging lantern” too small to hang over a 40 inch round table?

  2. Danielle says:

    Hi Donna,
    Since round tables need larger fixtures over them, and a rule of thumb is to have the width of the lighting fixture over a round table be the 50%-60% of diameter of the table, I think the Quatrefoil Lantern – Large would be a better choice for a 40″ round table. Or maybe one of our mini chandeliers like the Clear Glass Sphere Chandelier, Wire Urn Mini Chandelier, Loft Shade Chandelier, or Metal Strap Globe Lantern

  3. Elaine says:

    I want to replace a fluorescent light in my kitchen. It is a ceiling light, but not located over a counter or anything else. I would like to create/use a fixture which consists of a base with hanging lights. My husband insists hanging lights can ONLY be used over a surface. What is your take on that? I think he lacks imagination.


  4. Walter says:

    Hello Elaine, Now do not drag us into a domestic dispute. HaHa! The answer to one question might put the two of you on the same page: What is the ceiling height we are talking about here?
    Everyone has seen a “hanging light” that did not have a surface (counter/table etc.) under it…. think foyers and rooms with 10′-12+’ ceilings. However, If he is tall and/or the ceiling is 8′ or less, he may have a valid point. We don’t want anyone feeling like they will hit their head on the light as they pass by. Depending on these measurements, maybe a compromise can be reached here.
    Typically we recommend head clearance of around 7 feet if you have 8 foot ceilings. Popular kitchen lights are here: If you are able to explore options that hang down a little, we would also recommend mini chandelier’s or pendant light
    These you can adjust the cord and give you some flexibility.

    Good luck with your project.
    The Shades of light Team

Leave a Reply

*You will be signed up to receive our free email offers