Kitchen Lighting Tips

Read these 16 Kitchen Lighting Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Lighting tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What kind of light should I hang over the sink?

Lighting the Kitchen Sink

The kitchen sink is a prime example of task lighting. Kitchen lighting is important all over, but if you can't see whether the dishes are clean, the result could be wasted effort and unpleasant eating experiences.

Many homes have a "tube" light over the sink. These fluorescent kitchen lights provide excellent task lighting and require less power than incandescents.

If you have the room and want something a little more dramatic, a pendant mini-chandelier can provide a decorative touch. Choose your fixture with the style of the sink and cabinets in mind.

What kind of lights should I get for my kitchen ceiling?

Kitchen Ceiling Lighting

A dramatic alternative to traditional kitchen ceiling lights is to use indirect lighting. An open channel around the ceiling might be used to conceal rope lights that point upwards and have their own dimmer switch. When it's turned on, the light reflects up onto the ceiling and into the room for an effect that is both soft and bright. This can be combined with kitchen island pendant lighting for a versatile and attractive look.

Whatever your choices turn out to be, it's a good idea to have a kitchen lighting layout in mind. This may take some time to plan, but the time will be well-spent when you are enjoying your kitchen without worrying about cutting up carrots in a dark corner.

How do I create more artificial light in my kitchen?

Reflections on Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen Lighting Tips: You held out for a stainless steel fridge and other metal fixtures, including any high-tech kitchen lighting fixture you could find, ordered glossy ceramic tile for the splash behind the sink and stove, and even used a mirrored wall in the in-kitchen breakfast nook. Congratulations. You just passed Kitchen Lighting Design 101 with flying colors. You can't always cook with natural light, especially if you get home after 7 p.m.

In IT'S YOUR KITCHEN, kitchen design expert Joan Kohn suggests that reflective surfaces amplify the artificial light in a kitchen, making your kitchen light look brighter and your overall cooking space seem larger. Even if you have dark tones such as cherry wood or mocha granite countertops, your kitchen will look fully lighted and expansive. And of course, don't forget to display plenty of stainless steel cookware to catch the light.

What? You don't cook? Guess it's time for Cooking 101...or you could just become a kitchen designer specializing in lighting for kitchens.

Can I use grazing to highlight the handmade tiles on kitchen walls?

Grazing in the Kitchen

Kitchen Lighting Tips: You graze all the time from the bowls of fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts you've placed in handy locations. But did you ever think of tile grazing? The exterior lighting technique of grazing, positioning light to highlight an interesting surface, can work in the kitchen.

For example, in an alcove with hand-painted tiles you bought in Portugal, you can place recessed lights in the arch to showcase the traditional artistry. Recessed kitchen light in soffits above a tiled wall highlight the tile surface, especially with intricate designs. Don't use grazing on smooth surfaces. Varied or raised surfaces catch the light better. Your family may be so interested in the light and shade on the tile that they won't notice you've eaten all the oranges!

I've heard underlights can burn kitchen cabinets, is this true?

Kitchen Cabinet and Counter Lighting

Kitchen Lighting Tips: You might worry that the burnt odor wafting from your kitchen might be because your undercabinet lights are too hot. No such luck—better check your chocolate souffle. While fluorescent lights do generate a good deal of heat, undercabinet kitchen light design guards against fire hazards. Energy-efficient fluorescent kitchen lighting fixtures are used regularly in kitchens without incident.

Hot Kitchen Lighting Design Tip: For under-countertop/kitchen island lighting, you can use several Kichler undercabinet lights with efficient Xenon bulbs in place of one long light, or Kichler offers 22-inch lights. For countertop surface kitchen lighting, mount fluorescent light fixtures (12-24 inches in length, 2/3 of the total counter length) beaneath the cabinets. Be sure to position these kitchen light fixtures as close to the back of the cabinets, flush with the back end of the counter, to avoid surface glare.

Lighting for kitchens isn't intended to be dangerous. For example, you can use low-voltage mini-can lights over, under, or inside cabinets without fear. Alas, it looks as if your souffle is burned beyond recognition. Perhaps better lighting will save your next confection.

How do I choose pendant lights to hang over my kitchen island?

Pendant Lights Over Kitchen Islands

Kitchen Lighting Tips: Dinner by candlelight is romantic, but we don't recommend cooking by candlelight! Our ancestors got by, but they never had to deal with seventeen settings on the stove and twenty on the microwave, plus all the new kitchen gadgets As Seen On TV. And, cooking is more pleasant when you can actually see and smell your food.

Lighting for kitchens should be primarily task-based. Kitchen islands and butcher blocks are where you chop vegetables, test seasonings and cut meat. Restaurant-style kitchen lighting fixtures such as long cylindrical tube steel pendant lights are a wise investment. Since your kitchen can be more informal than a restaurant kitchen—people often gather at the butcher block for conversation—you can opt for decorative kitchen lighting such as the Frosted Glass Ring Mono-Point Mini-Pendant Chandelier. You can hang it lower than you would a chandelier in the dining room. Install dimmer switches, since you may need brighter light for when the kids do their homework in the kitchen.

To enhance task lighting, augment pendant kitchen lighting fixtures with ceiling recessed lighting or track lighting. Now that your gourmet masterpiece is done, light the candles in the dining room or kitchen, dim the lights, and savor your food. Bon appetite!

I want to put a pot rack in my kitchen but I need to remove my ceiling fan ,which has a light fixture in it, and I would like a light that would fit in the middle of the pot rack. Any ideas ? Betty

Pot Rack Lights

Thinking of installing a pot rack chandelier for its attractiveness and handy kitchen-utensil organization? If you need to remove a kitchen fan that includes a light fixture, you've probably gotten used to the light fixture and want to use it in your pot rack.

Many pot rack chandeliers include their own lights that may or may not fit your existing light fixture. The easiest way to install a light in the middle of the pot rack is to choose one that has a light in the center.

Make sure that the pot rack light you choose provides the right lighting for your kitchen tasks. Consider installing a dimmer, no matter what light you choose.

Tip: When you're replacing a ceiling fan with a pot rack, remember that pot racks are heavy fixtures, and any light you choose may need extra reinforcement depending on the pot rack weight.

Do I light my pantry the same way I do my bedroom closets?

Pantry Lighting

Kitchen Lighting Tips: If you can't see the peaches you packed in a Mason jar three years ago or find the blender, your pantry lighting needs an upgrade. In general, pantry kitchen lighting, like upstairs walk-in closet lighting, needs to be direct and strong so you can see what you've stored on the shelves. There's no room for dimmers on pantry kitchen light fixtures. If you have a large walk-in pantry, you'll need more than one recessed ceiling kitchen light.

Typically, a pantry kitchen light is either an old-style glaring white fluorescent bar or an overly large blinding globe. You can try different bulbs for globe downlights—halogen lighting or newer fluorescents work well. You may not be able to replace that old-style fluorescent kitchen lighting fixture, but you can opt for newer bulbs that don't glare and make noise. The whole point of pantry kitchen lighting is to find food and appliances with ease. Once you've updated the lighting, if you still can't find those peaches or that blender, it's time to clean out the pantry.

What lighting is best for the stove or sink?

Lighting For Pots and Pans

Kitchen Lighting Tips: If your dishes are greasy even after you wash them twenty times, you may need new lighting over the sink area… If you added pepper when you meant to add cardamom to your stew, it's either time to throw out your recipe or your stove lighting… The right kitchen lighting fixtures make all the difference. Install one or two track lights over the sink so you can see the dried grease on your Calphalon saucepan.

Add a single recessed downlight, equipped with energy-efficient bulb and dimmer, dead center over the sink. Now you have no excuses when your roasting pan isn't completely spotless. Your oven light by itself can't provide enough kitchen light for making stew or cooking that roast. Install another recessed downlight near where you'll be standing. You can also place recessed lighting in soffits, dropped sections of ceiling over the stove and sink walls. The downside to this lighting upgrade: nobody will volunteer to help you with the dishes since you'll get them so clean!

What bulbs should I buy for kitchen lighting fixtures?

Kitchen Light Bulbs

Kitchen Lighting Tips: We've all been told that we need to save energy. My answer to that has always been, "I save energy—my favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations." Energy efficiency is wonderful in lighting for kitchens, but if you have Energy Star kitchen appliances, you can splurge a little on the chandelier above the kitchen dining nook.

Chandelier kitchen lighting fixtures with incandescent light bulbs add ambience and coziness to an eating area. Fluorescent, xenon, and halogen bulbs add the energy-saving muscle to ambient, recessed and track lighting. They don't leak so much heat that you want to get out of the kitchen. Try halogen bulbs in pendant accent kitchen lighting for butcher blocks and kitchen islands. Then there's the choice of decorative accent kitchen light. Typically, you'll buy candelabra bulbs and regular household bulbs.

Don't forget mini-can bulbs for cabinet lighting. You can still make reservations, but it might be a little harder now that you can cook at home and save the planet too!

How do I create more artificial light in my kitchen?

Black or White Kitchen Surfaces

Kitchen Lighting Guide: You felt uncomfortable in your Aunt Sophie's kitchen. It wasn't because of her noodles that burned your mouth, it was because of the dark wood and the lack of kitchen light. Even sunlight didn't brighten the kitchen. In contrast, Aunt Rita had brand-spanking new refrigerators and cabinets in white.

They always seemed to glow, and you liked spending time there, even though Aunt Rita couldn't make noodles any better than Aunt Sophie. We can't explain the failure of noodle recipes, but we do know that white opaque refrigerator, dishwasher, cabinet and wall surfaces reflect light better. Dark wood can create a more claustrophobic atmosphere unless you install plenty of kitchen lighting. You don't need as many kitchen lighting fixtures for white or light surfaces. Lighting for kitchens with darker surfaces needs to be more abundant.

Of course, if you intersperse rich cherry wood with steel appliances, the kitchen will look lighter and less cramped. Kitchen lighting design can make your own kitchen comfortable and pleasant...although it won't help you when Aunt Rita and Aunt Sophie corner you, insisting you taste their new recipes for noodle dishes!

How do I add style and pizzazz to kitchen lighting design?

Decorative Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen Lighting Guide: The great singer Pearl Bailey once said, "My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me." It's a safe bet that Pearl Bailey's kitchen had mood lighting. Lighting for kitchens creates an atmosphere, a homey feeling, as well as a safe and efficient environment for cooking. You have recessed lighting with dimmers to provide overall light, and there's a little thing known as the sun. But those pine-cone or rooster wall sconces look so great with your country cottage kitchen theme.

In Joan Kohn's IT'S YOUR KITCHEN, a pair of candle wall sconces enhance a kitchen desk inside an arched recess. Sinuous curves of a pendant light fixture with a white lamp shade echo a graceful flower in a countertop vase. Study kitchen design books to get kitchen lighting design ideas. Also, think back to your own childhood. What was the lighting like in your grandmother's kitchen? Your childhood kitchen memories or even restaurant interior design can also give you great kitchen lighting ideas. Some of our suggestions:

  • Homey is better. Wooden or rustic-looking table lamps and wall sconces create the image that, like Martha, you designed and built your own kitchen.
  • For white cabinetry and appliances, the more kitchen light, the merrier. Feel free to use kitchen lighting fixtures that contrast with the light colors.
  • Choose country French or Mediterranean decorative sconces and lamps if you're recreating a kitchen from a chateau in Normandy, a villa in Tuscany or a house in the Greek islands.
  • If your kitchen is all-metal, choose steel or iron finish for your lamps, chandeliers and wall sconces.
  • You can't go wrong with a Tiffany chandelier or sconce to add color. The stained glass echoes some of Pearl Bailey's mystical aura. For many people, cooking is a spiritual experience.

Don't be surprised if, after installing your decorative lighting, you sing while boiling water and hear the wings of angels.

What is needed for commercial kitchen lighting?

Commercial Kitchen Lighting

The right lighting is absolutely key for commercial kitchens, which must meet rigorous standards of cleanliness, as well as cooking appealing foods. Most commercial kitchen lighting relies on large fluorescent fixtures for general light, and track lighting for task areas.

In many restaurant kitchens, these are utilitarian fixtures, but in some restaurants part of the experience is being able to see the chefs at work. If the kitchen is visible to the guests, kitchen light fixtures should be in keeping with the overall decor of the establishment.

What do I need to do to light an eat-in kitchen?

Lighting the Eat-In Kitchen

Eat-in kitchens can include either a bar area or a dining table with chairs. Either way, it's important to come up with kitchen lighting plans that let people see what they're eating.

The kitchen eating area is also often used for reading, whether it's a morning paper or after-school homework. So be sure there's task lighting available to help family members' eyes. Low-voltage kitchen lighting can be surprisingly effective.

What should I think about for kitchen island lighting?

Kitchen Island Lights

The size of your kitchen island lights depends in part on the height of your ceiling. A 7-foot ceiling requires a light that's flush or even recessed so that tall family members and visitors don't bonk their heads. A 9-foot ceiling gives you more room and flexibility.

Consider installing a ceiling fan with your hanging kitchen lights. The fan will help keep the cooks cool on hot days, and also is useful for drying the floor quickly after mopping.

Can I install lights under my kitchen cabinets?

Kitchen Cabinet Lighting

Kitchen cabinet lighting is a real convenience for busy cooks. Besides providing a clear view of the food being cooked, good kitchen cabinet lights also help prevent injuries, such as cuts and burns.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to add such lighting when the cabinets are already in place. Many kitchen cabinets are set into insulated exterior walls, making it more difficult to find room for extra wires. Even if you're handy, this is probably a project for an electrical professional.

Most under-cabinet lights are hidden behind the cabinet facing. This requires an ultra-slim fixture that is invisible to people in the room. For extra flexibility, add a dimmer switch so they can be used for full-intensity task lighting or moderate accent lighting.

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Guru Spotlight
Lynne Christen