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Designer Tips for Your Kitchen Lighting

As a multi-purpose space, your kitchen needs appropriate lighting for each occasion. The base-level requirement for any kitchen design is good, practical task lighting suitable for preparing and cooking food, but lighting can do so much more to enhance your design and the overall comfort of the space. From ambient lighting that’s perfect for a night in with friends to lighting that maximises your productivity when working from home, the right lighting solutions can transform your kitchen design.

In this blog, our designers share some expert advice that will help you plan your lighting scheme along with some of our favourite lighting setups and solutions.

Kitchen Task Lighting

Task lighting is the practical lighting you need to use your kitchen safely. Task lighting should be tailored to your design and how you use your kitchen. Task lighting is usually a combination of your primary ambient kitchen lighting and individual high-wattage lighting over key work areas such as hobs, sinks and prep areas.

Under cupboard cabinetry lighting not only elevates and emphasises your kitchen design, it’s also perfect for task lighting. A run of wall cabinets can create shadows on your work areas, but lighting underneath provides adequate illumination directly over your preparation and cooking areas. For good task lighting, position your lights to the front edge of the cabinetry to illuminate the workspace, not just the back wall. Depending on your kitchen design, some options are compact fluorescents, LED’s that can be recessed into the underside of your cabinets, or slimline LED strips.

“We all use our kitchens for more than just cooking, so our clients need an adaptive lighting solution. We can help you plan your lighting for multi-purpose use whether it’s cooking, working from home, entertaining or family time – we’ve got you covered” – Jonny Wing | KCA Commercial Manager


Overhead Pendant Lights

Pendant lights above your kitchen island, breakfast nook or dining table help you to create zones in your kitchen design. Pendant lights are efficient for both task and mood lighting, so it’s no surprise they are so popular.

“To get the most out of your pendant lighting, we recommend that they are wired on a separate dimmer switch. This way, you can ramp up the lighting for tasks and soften when you need ambient light.”

Aside from their benefits as additional lighting, pendant lights are also an accessory that can be chosen in the style of your choosing to cement the look of your kitchen. Available in different sizes, shapes, textures, and finishes, you can choose pendant lights that celebrate and enhance the style of your kitchen, from large metal pendants that make an industrial statement to intricate and colourful glass pendants that are synonymous with bohemian styles.

 Kitchen Island Pendants

Depending on the primary function of your kitchen island and considering the lighting that you have elsewhere in your kitchen, your pendant lights may need to serve different purposes. If you mainly use your island to prepare food, your pendants will need to act as task lights. When choosing pendants for task lighting, be sure to choose bright pendants that aim downwards, ideally with an open or translucent bottom that illuminates the area directly below. Suppose your kitchen island is more of a casual space for entertaining. In that case, you can choose multiple lower-wattage pendants, better suited for ambient lighting, avoiding metal shades favouring glass, which provides a more even ambient glow.

Tips for fitting your kitchen island pendant lights

“When fitting your pendant lights, it’s essential to adjust your lights for the tallest person using the space. There should be at least 75cm to 90cm clearance between your kitchen surface and the bottom of your fixtures as a rule. Despite the usual interior design rule of three, we recommend one large or two medium pendants for small islands (up to 1.5 meters) and two large or three medium-sized pendants for longer islands.
If you are hanging multiple pendants, we recommend spacing them about 60cm apart. However, the exact position and spacing will depend on the size of your kitchen below, as the pendants should be positioned evenly above the furniture below.


Dining Pendants

shaker kitchen

If you have an open-plan kitchen incorporating a dining table, it’s essential to consider how you tend to dine in the space. Traditionally, formal dining rooms will have low-hanging light fixtures that hang approximately 90cm above the tabletop. However, in more open-plan spaces, the dining table is often used for casual dining and entertaining, so the pendants are fixed slightly higher. When selecting pendant styles for your dining space, it comes down to your preference and the size and shape of the table. For smaller tables, you may want to opt for a single light fixing, pendant or chandelier. As for larger farmhouse or banquet tables, consider multiple pendants to zone the space and accentuate the vast dining area.

A top tip from our designers 

“A good way to visualise how pendants will look is to hang balloons from a string in the length and size of the pendants you want to fit. Experimenting with different balloon sizes and heights will help you to narrow down exactly what type of pendants will work for your space.”


Kitchen Accent Lighting

Kitchen accent lighting draws attention to specific features within the design and the room, such as the furniture, collections, artwork, and portraits. In the kitchen, accent lighting can enhance the lines and curves of the design and accentuate the textures, colours, and materials. Accent lighting can also be designed using lights in different colours, a fun option that is great for entertaining.


Shadow Gap Lighting

A shadow gap is a small, intentional clearance between furniture or appliances and the wall. Depending on your design, a shadow gap may be required for the furniture or appliances to function correctly. A shadow gap can also be used to create a striking design feature by adding accent lighting within the recess or incorporating a different finish that contrasts the cabinetry beside it.


Plinth Lighting

Plinth lighting is used to add additional mood lighting to a room. A lighting technique widely used in restaurants and bars; this lighting is used at home to create a subtle ambience in the space perfect for entertaining.


Internal Cabinet Lighting

Internal cabinet lighting is perfect for glazed cabinets, as the lights can be turned on to illuminate the items on display inside. This technique still works well for glazed cabinets with diffused or fluted glass. Although the contents will not be visible, a warm, soft light will still glow from the cabinets. Interior cabinet lighting is also highly practical for pantries and larders, ensuring that a pantry’s contents are clearly visible. For pantries and cabinets will solid doors, interior cabinet lighting should be designed with a sensor so that the lights only switch on upon opening the cabinet.

Handle Rail Lighting

When designing a modern, handleless kitchen, accent lighting can be incorporated into the handle rail. This type of lighting is most often seen on a kitchen island, although it can be applied to any lower-level cabinetry.

Shelf Lighting

Kitchen shelf lighting is a fantastic way to create a feature of your open shelving, whether to showcase cherished objet d’art or simply as a way to add ambient light to certain areas of your room. Shelf lighting works especially well for bar areas within a kitchen, as it draws the focus to this area to create the feeling of a bar at home, perfect for entertaining.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it proves helpful when planning the lighting in your new kitchen.

If you would like to know more about KCA and our design services, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with a designer here or pop into our showroom for a chat.

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Welcome to our new Blog
Since 1993 we’ve been designing kitchens and bedrooms for prestigious properties and learnt a wealth of hints and tips along the way; knowledge we would like to share with you here on our Blog.

Welcome to our new Blog