How Lighting Makes or Breaks Kitchen Remodels

How Lighting Makes or Breaks Kitchen Remodels

Before starting your kitchen makeover, you probably spent a lot of time looking at kitchen ideas online. You might have seen fancy countertops, colorful cabinets, and nice faucets. But did you think about lighting? It’s easy to forget, but lighting is crucial for kitchen remodels. 


Light is really important for how a room looks and works. It helps us see and do things but also sets the mood and makes things look nice. The way light mixes with colors, textures, and shapes can make a room look better or worse. 

What’s the best light color for your kitchen? How can you make your bathroom lighting cool and useful? We’ve got all the answers. Here are some kitchen lighting design ideas and how they can make your kitchen remodels look great.

The Importance of Good Lighting in Kitchen Remodels

Lighting in kitchens is crucial. It’s not just about cooking; it’s about safety and style. Without proper lighting, accidents happen, and cooking suffers. Good lighting is important, primarily because it lets you see clearly and prevents mishaps. 


Lightning also makes food prep easier, ensuring you get the flavors right. And it enhances your kitchen’s look, making it inviting. Lighting guides us through spaces like an unseen hand, highlighting important parts, setting moods, and helping us move around.

The Right Lighting for Kitchen Renovation Projects

When planning your new home, consider room layout and activities in each. Decide where you’ll cook, clean, listen to music, or work. This determines lighting and socket placement.


Consider furniture placement, like desks and beds, as it affects lighting. Plan this before the building starts. Some walls can have extra wiring for flexibility, allowing changes later without major work.

4 Types of Lighting That Complement Kitchens

In essence, lighting does two things: it helps us see what we’re doing and makes places look nice. Good lighting can make a plain room look great, while bad lighting can make the fanciest room seem dull. But how can we decide which light best complements our kitchen?

1. Ambient Indoor Lighting

Ambient lighting, or general illumination, comes from sunlight through windows, glass doors, and skylights. This is the main light for most rooms, giving a soft, overall glow without drawing too much attention.


Depending on the kitchen’s placement and the presence of windows and doors, ambient lighting can draw from sunlight. Other options encompass chandeliers, pendant lights, and recessed and flush-mounted fixtures.


Ambient lighting suits every room, positioned towards the center and closer to the ceiling to spread light more evenly. Its goal? Make getting around easier, giving a clear view. This kind of lighting for kitchen often uses overhead fixtures such as: 


  • recessed lights
  • track lights
  • chandeliers
  • stand-alone options (floor and table lamps)

2. Task Lighting

Task lighting helps with specific activities like reading, cooking, and using the computer. It’s brighter and focused on a small area. To make the light more pleasant, avoid harsh or shadowy lighting. It’s practical to have a separate switch for task lighting


In kitchens, task lighting helps with cooking, baking, reading recipes, and easily finding ingredients. The best examples of this light are LED strip lights or puck lights that can be installed in drawers and cabinets.

Homeowners who enjoy cooking need good lighting for the kitchen, especially with countertops and islands. This light is brighter than ambient lighting and shines where it’s needed. It can come from different sources, such as desk or table lamps.

3. Accent Lighting

Another lighting tool, called accent lighting, brightens areas in kitchens not reached by ceiling lights. This includes under-cabinet and in-cabinet lighting, which should be strong enough to light up the space well.


Accent lighting makes kitchens look special by highlighting shelves, artwork, or architectural details. Investing in great kitchen aesthetics to showcase each detail through good lighting would be a great addition.


It creates focal points, draws the eye, and makes the space cozy. Track lights, adjustable recessed fixtures, and spotlights work well for this. Accent lighting is subtle, focusing on specific spots like plants or artwork, creating appealing shadows.


Accent lights are mainly used to highlight specific features or create a certain atmosphere, making rooms appear larger. Effective accent lighting requires three times more light on the focal point than ambient lighting provides.


Accent lighting can also highlight features like paintings or artwork. It can take various forms, such as recessed lights, downlights, or wall-mounted fixtures. It can also be practical, drawing attention to areas and providing focus, especially when ambient light is low.

4. Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting is all about style, adding flair to a room. It includes fixtures like chandeliers, pendant lights, and wall sconces. 


These lights can be bold and artistic, enhancing the room’s look and making a statement, especially when kitchen chaos is present.


Decorative lighting adds mood and interest to a room, enhancing its features. It all starts with your floor plan, where decorative lights contour the space. This is where you can play with pendants, linear suspension lights, or even chandeliers.


Chandeliers come in glass, crystal, or faux materials. Wall sconces and pendant lights are also common. Decorative lights can shine downwards or upwards, setting the mood for the room. They add character and style.

The Best Lighting for Different Kitchen Styles

Before you head out shopping for lights, remember that different types complement different kitchens. Although the final decision is largely based on your personal style and preferences, there are some general tips you can follow. Here’s the best lighting for kitchen types:


Lighting Type




Surface Lighting

Provides ambient light; mounted on ceiling.

Standard fixtures, illuminates large area.

Offers overall illumination.

Recessed Lighting

Installed within ceiling or wall, hidden.

Unobtrusive, preserves space.

Excellent ambient lighting.

Cabinet Lighting

Accent and task lighting for counters, cabinets.

Under-cabinet and in-cabinet options.

Improves visibility, highlights collections.


Ceiling-mounted fixtures hanging closer to surfaces.

Various styles and colors available.

Enhances ambiance, adjustable.

How to Pick the Perfect Kitchen Light

Once you get a clear idea of your kitchen style and layout, you can start considering your options. Generally, there are five checkpoints you’ll want to look for.

Decide the Type of Lighting You Need

Start by thinking about what you’ll do in the kitchen and what lighting you’ll need. Do you need bright lights for cooking or softer ones for relaxing? Consider your kitchen’s size, layout, and natural light sources. Most kitchens serve multiple purposes, so figure out what lighting works best for you.


Using a mix of different kitchen lights can balance your space. For instance, you might have pendant lights over an island for tasks, recessed lights in the ceiling for general light, and under-cabinet lights for counters.

Consider Your Kitchen Style

Remember to pick lighting fixtures that match your kitchen’s style. Whether you like modern, industrial, or traditional looks, there are many choices. You might want bronze finishes or splashes of color in a mostly gray kitchen.


Always consider your home’s architecture and lighting styles when picking kitchen lights. Matching styles or having a common theme, like shape or finish, creates flow. This is especially vital in open-plan kitchens connected to living or dining areas.

Prioritize Safety

Ensure your kitchen is well-lit. This is crucial for safety and efficient meal preparation, cooking, and cleaning. Task lighting, such as LED strip lights under cabinets or a track system above the island, achieves this goal.


To prevent shadows in your prep areas, position task lighting in front of you or above you. Avoid placing these lights behind where you’ll typically cook, as this can be uncomfortable.

Measure Correctly

When picking pendant lights, consider size: too big can overpower a small kitchen, and too small can be lost in a big space. Hang them at the right height to avoid head bumps—around 32 inches above a table or counter. 

Choose lighting based on your space’s size and counter. Many asymmetrical islands need two or three small pendants, some even four small lights or fewer large ones.

Think Practical

Lighting systems give you control over brightness, altering the mood. Dimmers switch between bright and warm lights. Different switches control different areas. Pick a focal point to direct guests’ attention, avoiding unsightly views.

Consider installing lights inside glass-front cabinets or open shelving to highlight your favorite items. This subtle illumination adds a warm glow and brings attention to your cherished pottery or china. It also creates a sense of depth and dimension in your kitchen, which is the top kitchen design trend of 2024.

Final Thoughts

In building a great kitchen, lighting is crucial, but it’s just one part of the whole picture. A fantastic kitchen combines practicality, organization, and looks. Everything from how it’s laid out to the materials used and the appliances chosen matters. 

Thinking about things like where to store things, making them easy to use, and adding personal style all come into play. A good kitchen gets the balance right between looking good and being useful, making sure every detail makes it a nicer place to cook and hang out.

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