Tips and Trends in Kitchen Lighting

No one should have to cook in the dark. Follow these seven tips to find the best light fixtures and use them effectively in your home.

By Tamara Gane


Choosing the best lighting for any room in your home is an important decision, but it’s most important to get the right lighting in your kitchen over any other room. Where else do you need lights bright enough to both mince onions without cutting yourself and make sure your crystal wine glasses are spot-free? To complicate matters, in most cases, you don’t want your kitchen lights set to full brightness all the time, which means versatility will be key. This article will walk you through the latest trends in kitchen lighting to help you find solutions that will are functional, flexible, and attractive.


1. Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is a good fit for almost any kitchen because it’s flush with the ceiling and therefore clean, unobtrusive, and capable of blending into nearly every style of décor without detracting from it. Perhaps most importantly, recessed lighting is easy to layer and combine with other light fixtures for maximum visual impact and functionality. Find out what you need to know about recessed lighting and learn more about why it’s such a popular lighting fixture for kitchens and other rooms.




2. Pendant Lights

Due to their ability to offer focused task lighting, pendant lights that hang down from the ceiling are a trendy choice for light fixtures to use above open countertop surfaces or kitchen islands.


But pendant lights are best used sparingly because your kitchen will look like a school gym with lights swinging from the ceiling like rope swings if you install too many. Therefore, it’s best to concentrate your pendant lights in one area and use no more than necessary for that area. How many pendant lights you need for your kitchen depends on its size and shape, but generally, one or two pendant lights in your kitchen will suffice unless your space is unusually large or the fixtures you’ve selected are unusually small. Our kitchen tends to be dark, so we chose two pendant lights with a mirrored finish to reflect light and brighten up a dark space. Pendant lights come in a variety of materials, however, including wood and glass to complement virtually any style of kitchen or décor.




3. Ceiling Fans with Light Fixtures

If your kitchen is large enough, you can mount a ceiling fan to aid with the circulation of air in either your cooking or eating area. Many ceiling fans include a built-in light fixture, allowing them to make efficient use of space by serving more than one function simultaneously. If you do have a ceiling fan in your kitchen, make sure you select one with style and materials that complement the other light fixtures in the room. In my case, I selected an industrial-looking fan with wood blades and a metal base with metal track lights beneath it, but there are many other styles and materials available for different budgets and aesthetics.




4. Under Cabinet Lights

I’m a big fan of under cabinet lights. They create a soft, pretty glow, which is perfect to highlight the beauty of your countertops or illuminate your path should you creep into the kitchen for a midnight snack. Under cabinet lights are usually installed beneath upper cabinets, but they can also be placed under the bottom row as well.




5. Chandeliers

Although chandeliers are most often associated with dining rooms, they can also be used to great effect in your kitchen, provided the area is large enough. A chandelier would typically be used over a kitchen island or open counter space. These are the same areas where you might otherwise opt for pendant lights, but if your kitchen is large enough, a chandelier can also be hung above the center. Modern chandeliers come in a variety of styles and materials ranging from classic crystal to a more industrial look.


The best kitchen lighting is as functional as it is practical. The average room can’t accommodate more than one chandelier without looking too busy, so if you choose to go in this direction, make sure the chandelier you select will be able to provide sufficient light to illuminate the areas you need it to.




6. Track Lighting

Track lighting is popular in kitchens because of its ability to focus lighting on one particular area without blocking your line of vision or taking up much space. Track lighting can be used above open countertops and kitchen islands, but smaller track lighting fixtures can even be mounted above areas like the kitchen sink. Although track lighting is usually metal, it comes in a variety of materials to match any kind of décor.




7. Dimmers

Dimmers are an essential part of the best kitchen lighting because they let you turn the lights up bright enough to effectively illuminate your work area when you’re cooking and cleaning, and also allow you to turn down the lighting to a more comfortable level when bright lights aren’t needed. In my kitchen, I have dimmer switches set to different areas so I can opt to keep the lights brighter in some areas and not others. I can even choose not to use some lights at all when I don’t need them. Whichever style of lighting you select, a dimmer switch can enhance its functionality.




The best kitchen lighting is practical, functional and, of course, a good fit for your budget. Now that you know what the trends are, you can choose with confidence.

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