Kitchen Lighting Ideas: Find What You Love

When it comes to kitchen lighting, or any lighting really, I feel like there a lot of great design ideas to dog-ear in magazines and bookmark on websites, but at the average home we’re really seeing something like this:

Halo 6 in. 65-Watt Recessed Baffle Trim (6-Pack)Kitchen light by Teecycle Tim, on Flickr

Simpsons kitchenGoodbye old 70s track lighting by lvalue, on Flickr


Nothing really terrible, and in some cases a great base to build upon, but it’s not much to write home about unless you’re really into 70s track lighting.

Ideally, we all want to feel at home in our kitchens. Its definition as the “heart of the home” is an always expanding one. A space where women once gossipped over baked goods and that evening’s dinner preparations (picture early Lucy and Ethel), is now an open focal point of every home, trekked through, gathered in and admired by all.

Here are some terms to keep in mind when tackling the lighting world.

  • General Lighting: What you see above is general lighting. Usually installed on or in the ceiling, it has the overall purpose of lighting in a non-specific manner.
  • Task Lighting: This would be used to light a specific area, such as a strip of light under the top cabinets, or a spotlight above the sink used to illuminate a shadow free area for chopping, washing or other specific visual needs.
  • Accent Lighting: Lighting used to enhance a specific feature of the space, usually design related or architectural. Sconces that draw attention to particular molding, or a picture lit up artistically with track lighting to highlight its beauty.

Without these layers, your kitchen lighting design will seem incomplete.

Seems like a lot of lamps right? Wide array of lamps

It’s actually easier than you think if you stick with a common theme, and work on blending accents in from there. Common problems that seem to arise usually have to do with overlighting. Eg. someone get’s way too excited at Home Depot, and brings home a giant candelabra and twelve sconces for a kitchenette. The best thing to do is have a plan that considers

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proportion and balance along with style. Height of hanging lights can also be a tricky decision. Place the lights high enough not to obstruct the view in and out of the kitchen, but close enough that they are an effective layer that complements its surroundings.

There are designers that would say your kitchen is not supposed to appeal to you individually, it’s supposed to add value to the home by being universally desirable. Unless you’re selling or renting out your home, I just can’t agree with that at all! This is YOUR home, it should make you smile and feel comfortable. And it doesn’t have to be generic

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or expensive change as long as it falls within the general reach of your common theme. Accent lighting really helps in this area.

Let’s look at some great lighting combos that stick to a common theme, and still have the personalized “wow factor” that so many kitchens are missing out on.

Under Cabinet Lighting is a bit of a no brainer honestly. Which one you pick depends on how much work you want to put into installation. Building the lighting into the cabinet base will obviously take a little more effort than attaching light strips beneath them. Choosing LED lights for either of these designs, will save on your energy bills and last longer.

If you’re going for built-in lighting here, it’s also a great time to add in an outlet strip for easy access, and to save counter space for your appliances.
Now for the Main and Accent Lighting. Everyone is different, but here are a few of my favorite combinations for kitchen lighting themes. Take note of balance in size, as well as complimentary and contrasting design.

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w/ Bronze Accent Lighting

A modern take on a classy kitchen, the chandeliers and bronze accent lighting echo each other in an old world patina while adding a bit of contrast in the delicacy of one and the basic function of the other.

Exposed Bulb Lighting w/ Vintage Sign Accents

Exposed bulbs are incredibly popular right now, and not just in an industrial design setting. Fixtures range from vintage farmhouse chic to modern minimalism to clean clear glass and brushed steel casing. Even the shape of the bulb makes a huge difference.

Lighting designs found at Roost, a home design store in Chicago.

Lighting designs found at Roost, a home design store in Chicago.

Polished DIY Charm

Creative juices are flowing everywhere. Go online and search for DIY design blogs, quite a few of them are happy to give instruction and helpful tips about what they’ve done. Then search ebay for cheap supplies and a lamp kit. If you’re not exactly the manual labor type, check out shops and studios that buy, sell or consign local creations. One-of-a-kind design is right at your fingertips.


One Response to “Kitchen Lighting Ideas: Find What You Love”

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