11 Kitchen Lighting Tips Designers Swear By

Details

Who doesn’t love a good light-bulb moment? These designers share their go-to kitchen lighting tips and picks to ensure the heart of the home (quite literally) shines with style.


kitchen lighting tips natural light in texture-rich kitchen by karen ferguson

A mix of materials—including metal, oak and birdseye maple—adds visual interest to this high-design kitchen featuring Fusion Blue quartzite, rose gold Dornbracht faucets and Lutron shades.

Karen Ferguson

Harrison Design, Atlanta 

Be Ready To: Answer A Few Key Questions

“1. What task am I performing in the space? If it is prep and cutting, you need ample task light form overhead. 2. What mood am I trying to create? Decorative sconces and pendants can layer soft lighting that makes a space feel cozy. 3. Where is the natural light coming from? You may need to prepare for potential glare with a built-in shading system like Lutron.”

Photo: Emily Followill

kitchen lighting ideas maroon pantry with metallic details by christopher peacock

“Lighting must never be underestimated,” offers designer Christopher Peacock, who focuses on balancing beauty and practically in a kitchen space.

Christopher Peacock

Christopher Peacock, New York City

Pro Tip: The Small Things Make The Biggest Impact

“Accent lighting has been taken to new heights with the use of tiny LED lights. Now we can accent cabinetry and provide better task lighting in more areas than before, which provides a dramatic effect in the room. It’s easy to install and looks fantastic.”

Photo: Neil Landino

kitchen lighting tips gray teal white modern kitchen by penny francis

“Creative storage options, paired with beautiful finishes, wallpaper, tile, countertops and lighting have made kitchens interesting, layered and beautiful,” says designer Penny Francis, whose featured project showcases custom lighting from Hubbardton Forge over the island and dining table.

Penny Francis

Eclectic Home, New Orleans 

You’ll Want To: Keep Count

“Odd numbers for fixtures over the island are more impactful or one single linear fixture properly scaled to the surface. Lastly, don’t match the fixtures in finish and style.”

Photo: Sara Essex Bradley

kitchen lighting tips layered bar lighting

Think outside the box: Antique mirrors on the backsplash help reflect light in this kitchen by Beth Webb.

Beth Webb

Beth Webb Interiors, Atlanta 

Remember: Be Strategic About Placement

“I always use layers of light. If you have glass cabinets, light under the counter, the interior lighting in the cabinets and then decorative lighting as well. The layers make the room.”

Photo: Lisa Romerein

kitchen lighting tips square dice black pendants

“An oversized island pendant always looks really unexpected in a kitchen,” says designer Hilary Matt.

Hilary Matt

Hilary Matt Interiors, New York City 

Use: Your Imagination

“Move away from using basic round pendants in a kitchen. I want to encourage people to think out of the box.”

Photo: Seth Caplan

kitchen lighting tips island fixture

“The kitchen is recognized as not only a favorite and functional space to be, but also as the No. 1 space in a home for personal expression,” says Mick De Giulio.

Mick De Giulio

de Giulio kitchen design, Wilmette, Illinois

Don’t Dismiss: Recessed Lighting

“I use recessed cans when and where necessary in a kitchen, but today’s approach to lighting is different than years ago when the focus was almost entirely on evenly dispersed ambient light plus some strategic task lighting. Today, I look for recessed fixtures that offer adjustability, allowing light to be aimed at elements within the space which adds multiple layers of light. Tech Lighting’s Elements and Entra line of mud-in trimless 2” and 3” recessed fixtures (square or round) are great for this feature.”

Photo: Dave Burk

kitchen lighting tips sconces above contemporary kitchen

A sconce by Visual Comfort sits next to a custom range hood in this kitchen by Houston designer Mary Patton.

Mary Patton

Mary Patton Design, Houston 

How To: Jazz Up Compact Rooms

“If you’re in a smaller space, think about using sconces for concentrated lighting—they look like jewelry on a wall.”

Photo: Molly Culver

kitchen lighting ideas wood kitchen with natural light by park and oak

Spending more time at home has highlighted the importance of remembering your kitchen is a true living space, say designers Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto.

Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto

Park & Oak Design, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Create: Cozy Conditions

“Think about the way you would light a living space. Sconces on the walls. Tiny lamps. Library lights. Not only are these functional, they go a long way toward turning the kitchen into an actual living space.”

Photo: Park & Oak Design

kitchen lighting tips jean liu tube lighting above warm island

Consider how you’ll be using the kitchen in order to make better lighting decisions. “Incorporating recessed cans, under-cabinet lighting and island lighting, in addition to decorative or statement pieces, ensure there are no dark spots while cooking or working in the kitchen,” says Dallas designer Jean Liu.

Jean Liu

Jean Liu Design, LLC, Dallas

Sage Advice: Make Everyone Look Up

“Go for statement pieces. Just because the kitchen is a utilitarian part of the home doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be well considered style-wise, just like all the other parts of the home.”

Photo: Lisa Petrole

kitchen lighting tips black brass and nickel kitchen

Visual Comfort lighting hangs over a quartzite-topped island in a kitchen by Studio Thomas James. Modern History stools provide seating while Colonial Bronze hardware and Signature Kitchen Suite appliances help elevate the moody look.

Philip Thomas Vanderford

Studio Thomas James, Dallas

You Can Always: Mix It Up

“We love to use light fixtures that incorporate mixed finishes. This allows us to use a variety of metals throughout the room in a way that feels eclectic yet organized.”

Photo: Nathan Schroder Photography

kitchen lighting tips light wood kitchen with caesarstone countertops

“Using warm lighting makes the kitchen feel more inviting and adds a sense of calm. Like the warmth of the sun at golden hour,” says designer Brian Brown, whose highlighted project features Caesarstone countertops, Palecek counter stools and Emtek hardware.

Brian Brown

Brian Brown Studio, San Diego 

Dial Up: The Warm Lighting

“Always consider the kitchen’s main uses, cooking, entertaining and satellite home office. You should have layers of warm light that accommodate these functions. Great task lighting for cooking, mood lighting for entertaining and something in between for daily family use. Great recessed lighting in the ceiling, hidden LED channels and decorative fixtures will do the trick.”

Photo: Larry Taylor

This story is part of our Luxe Ultimate Kitchens digital package, which lets you envision your culinary dream space. Click to discover products, palettes and trends that speak to your personal style. 

A version of this article was originally published on April 11, 2022.