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Planning and Focusing Your Kitchen Lighting Layout

As the home’s cooking, communication, and entertaining hub, it’s really not all that difficult to spend too much time in the kitchen. It’s the place where we most often eat and socialize, and as such perhaps the most “human” room in the house. Because kitchens play such an integral role in day-to-day life, they’re also frequently cited among homeowners’ greatest sources of frustration.

Lighting may not be first in our hierarchy of kitchen needs, but it definitely should not be forgotten about. After establishing how you want to use your kitchen, where in the kitchen those functions will be allocated, and what furnishings, fixtures, and appliances will slot into those areas, then you can begin to conceptualize the kitchen lighting layout. Ideally, the lighting plan will harmonize with the floor plan in general, ensuring that your kitchen is both easy to work in and delightful to be in.

The Three Levels of Kitchen Lighting

Within the kitchen (and any room for that matter) there are three major ways lighting can be applied:

As ambient lighting. This refers to general lighting that is meant to illuminate the entirety of the space (e.g. “Turn on the lights, I can’t see.”)

As task lighting. The kitchen has three or more primary work stations — one for preparing food, one for cooking (or baking), and one for storage. Kitchen task lighting shines brighter on these areas so you can be absolutely assured that you can see what you are doing — very important when handling hot pans or sharp objects.

As accent lighting. After you take care of business with your kitchen lighting layout, you can attend to highlighting the room’s aesthetics. Is there a piece of artwork or architecture that stands out? A passage to an attached deck or patio or dining room? Try accenting it.

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Kitchen Lighting Types (And Where To Use Them)

There is an overwhelming number of kitchen lighting styles on the market — but some are definitely better suited to certain areas than others. Here are some of the more popular.

Recessed kitchen lighting: The most popular choice for ambient lighting, each lighting “can” is directly embedded into your ceiling. They come in both standard and wafer depths, which determines how deep the recess is. Unobtrusive and modern, they seamlessly integrate into the scene.

Flush and semi-flush mount kitchen lighting: The more traditional option for ambient lighting, these fixtures are either flush (directly mounted to the ceiling) or semi-flush (the housing hangs slightly below where it is mounted to the ceiling).

Pendant kitchen lighting: Like a pendant or medallion hung around one’s neck, these fixtures dangle from the ceiling. They can be simple or ornate, rustic or contemporary. They can serve as either task or accent lighting — for instance, over a kitchen island. A kitchen island is both a central design feature and an area where food preparation or entertaining might occur.

Under-cabinet kitchen lighting: The go-to for most task lighting applications, these lighting pucks or strips are applied to the underside of cabinets above the countertop, shining a spotlight on your abilities as a home cook. Take care to limit glare with shinier or more reflective countertop surfaces.

Track lights: Exceptional as an accent over a bar or dining area or even as a task light over the sink/dishwashing area, track lights are a series of lights laid along a fixed straight or curved path.

Additional kitchen lighting tips

Your kitchen renovation specialist may recommend assigning a dimmer switch to all lighting — helping you modulate the intensity of artificial light according to the time of day (especially if you receive a lot of natural light through a window or skylight) and the mood. Decorative switch and outlet covers ensure that even the lighting controls are in sync with your overall kitchen concept.

But first thing’s first — a gorgeous, durable kitchen design that fulfills all your needs. Bring your ideas to the Ayars Complete Home Improvements team, and we’ll ensure your kitchen radiates beauty from the floor to the ceiling.