Great lighting can turn a fantastic kitchen into something spectacular.

Out of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen probably has the most going on, from food preparation and cooking to chatting over coffee. From homework at the kitchen table, to wonderful cosy dinner parties with friends and family. Many a successful business has been launched at the kitchen table – so all the more reason to get the lighting right!

Here are some things to think about to make your kitchen lighting fabulous.


It’s probably more important to plan your kitchen lighting than for any other room in the house. This is because there are so many possibilities where lighting make a huge difference. From under-cabinet downlighting, to recessed wall lights under the base units that add drama and make them look like they’re floating. Lighting worktops and sinks is essential and can be done in a number of ways. You can also use lighting to add ambiance to a kitchen table and make it lovely comfortable place to eat and socialise. With so many lighting options available, it’s important to think through what you want to do. Looking at pictures (like the one in this post) is a good place to start to get ideas. Check here for a guide to the basic principles of lighting design.

You need to ensure that you’re lighting design has lots of flexibility so install multiple lighting systems for different areas so you can mix and match and create different moods.

Fortunately with the rapid improvement of energy-efficient LED lighting, splashing out on lots of lighting won’t break the bank with running costs. Whilst the initial outlay may be a little more that with more traditional bulbs, the effects you can achieve and the energy savings in the longer-term mean that LEDs are the way to go.

Great Places to Use LEDs

As well as replacing your old energy-hungry halogen downlights with LEDs (see our Guide here) there are lots of other fun things you can do with LEDs that will make your kitchen super-chic.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

LEDs stay cool, so your hands won’t feel like they’re being toasted when you work beneath them. There’s a few options with this. You can either install LED fittings which are wired in or have battery operated models.

LED strips look rather like slim fluorescent strips and have all the benefits of LED, including fantastic energy efficiency and burning ‘cool’ making them a safe option where you are likely to be doing a lot of work e.g. chopping vegetables on a worktop under a kitchen cabinet. A good example of this kind of light is the Bell 4W 300mm Double Ended Strip Architectural LED Lamp or the Linkable 4.5W LED Strip LightYou can also get LED on long strips that can be cut to size and adhered to the underside of cupboards. These strips need an LED driver, so check before you buy.

Also make sure you check the white colouring. These kind of lights tend to come in the ‘colder’ white colours which may be ideal for making sure you get the right sort of illumination (and that your tomatoes look red!). You can check the colour ranges here and make sure you get the type of white light you want – but be aware that if you’re going for a warmer ambience that the higher Kelvin (cooler) lights might upset the balance.

Of course you can also get different coloured LEDs, in any colour of the rainbow, so you’re not restricted to the Whiter Shades of Pale.

Modern small kitchen with green curtains and LED backlight

You can also get Puck Lights, so called because they are round like a hockey-puck and these can simply be stuck along the underside of cabinets. They can be wired in or powered with batteries.


LEDs are extremely durable, so make great lights for the bottom of base units and won’t be easily damaged. This kind of lighting can act as a sort of path light for additional safety, but it also adds a sense of warmth and depth to a room and can make a kitchen look stunning. The effect can be achieved using LED light stripsrecessed toe-kick fittings, or LED rope lighting.

Track Lighting

Some ceilings aren’t suitable for recessed lighting because they’re too high to give enough illumination, or there are period features that can’t be cut into. But it’s still possible to use LEDs in track and rail lighting as angled spotlights. See an example of a Philips fitting and LED lamps hereThe flexibility of this type of system may also have more appeal than downlights, depending on the type of décor you are creating e.g. the currently ‘on trend’ industrial style.

Modern kitchen in condominium with two story windows

Pendant Lights

There’s a huge range of very stylish pendant (hanging) light fittings available. These can also make use of LED light bulbs, which are excellent at providing bright directional light, which is just want you need from a pendant light over a worktop or dining table. Be sure to select the right warmth of LED light, as you’ll probably want that pool of light to be quite warm and not like an operating theatre! If you’re planning to have more than one pendant light, the top designer’s tip is to group them in uneven numbers – three or five. This gives a balance to the room that even numbers don’t.

Lighting Features

LEDs can be used to highlight architectural features such as plaster mouldings in a traditional kitchen, precious glass or dinnerware in a glass-fronted cupboard or even a glass worktop from underneath. If you are lighting a cupboard, remember to put in glass shelves to allow the lighting to go from top to bottom.  You could also consider lighting inside drawers and cupboard, particularly those hard to delve into corner cupboards where saucepans seem to go missing.  As they say,  the possibilities are endless!