10 Tips for Kitchen Lighting


Good lighting is an absolute must for your kitchen. It’s of course imperative that you be able to have a good view of what you’re cooking or cleaning, but you also want to ensure that the kitchen has a warm and inviting ambiance. If you’ve rented all your life and are a new homeowner, you might be surprised by how many options there are for something as fundamental as kitchen lighting. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you’re planning your kitchen lighting to make sure it’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Make the most of natural light


Most kitchens have a window over the sink, which is a great source of natural light. Perhaps there is also a sliding-glass door or other windows, which will also help to keep your kitchen bright during the day. Be sure to make the most of whatever natural light you have by avoiding heavy curtains or blinds.


Consider the color of your kitchen


It seems like common sense, but it’s something that can be easily overlooked: the darker your kitchen, the brighter the bulbs you’ll need. If you have white cabinets, you won’t need particularly bright lights for your kitchen; but if you have black or gray cabinets, you may need to up your wattage.


Layer your lighting


The kitchen is a space for a variety of different activities, and you’re going to need different lights for different activities. One overhead light, for example, will provide ambient light but it won’t be enough for individual tasks like food preparation. Take a cue from the built-in lights that most stoves have: these lights are small and unobtrusive but get the job done. Other prime locations for small lights include food prep areas and the kitchen sink. For areas over countertops, under cabinet lighting placed on the underside of wall cabinets will do the trick.

Track lighting


Another alternative to a single overhead light is track lighting, which has a lot of appeal for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the individual lights along the track can be positioned for custom lighting that you can also adjust as needed. In addition, track lighting tends to be easy to install, and you can generally set it up wherever you like.


Light dimmers


This is a great solution especially if you have a dining table or kitchen island in your kitchen. This is because you might go from requiring bright light for cooking to wanting lower lighting for when you’re eating.

Eliminate dark corners


In addition to making sure there aren’t any shadows cast by harsh lighting, you’ll also want to be mindful of any dark corners that your lighting doesn’t reach. This is especially true of the high traffic places like the sink, stove, and refrigerator, where visibility is absolutely key.

Pendant lights


These can add a lot of personality to a kitchen, and some pendant lights are particularly artful. Industrial-style pendant lights can make a real statement when combined with white cabinets and white countertops and positioned centrally or over a kitchen island. You can also position miniature pendant lights strategically over spots that require more light.

Take proper measurements


As with any kitchen remodeling project, probably the most important step is planning. If you have any pendants, make sure they hang down high enough to allow for enough clearance. Meanwhile, if you choose track lighting with multiple tracks, make sure the way the tracks are positioned in relation to each other is relatively symmetrical, since they can provide one or more focal points on the ceiling or high up on the wall.



If you decide to swap out upper wall cabinets for a pantry or open end shelf, you can use the wall space with sconces that will bathe your kitchen in light and add some real character to the room. In particular, swivel wall sconces provide extra versality because you can position them in whatever direction you like.


Got further design questions? We at Nelson Cabinetry are happy to help with your next project.

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