Journal

Kitchen lighting - ambient, accent, pendant, task

How do you choose the best lighting for a kitchen?

May. 2024
How do you choose the best lighting for a kitchen?  Lighting is yet another item to add to the endless list of decisions to make when planning a bespoke kitchen.  However, if you employ a simple set of rules you can achieve a beautiful harmonious result throughout the room.

For a kitchen design to work successfully the room’s illumination is a critical part of the design process and should never be left to the last minute – it should be on your priority list when considering the room as a whole, and an experienced lighting engineer can help with this.

Lighting can transform a space and how we interact within it.  Kitchen lighting design needs a flexible approach to allow for food preparation, cooking, dining, working and relaxing.  Without good lighting the space will not perform.  The best way to approach this multifunctional space is to layer the lighting options so that each zone uses a selection of different types of lighting to create a cohesive look.

Ceiling spotlights provide excellent over head lighting when positioned correctly in a kitchen
Ceiling spotlights provide excellent over head lighting when positioned correctly in a kitchen

Task Lighting

Kitchen counters, the cooker and sink all need to be well lit for safe and easy use.

Task lighting can use a combination of wall or overhead lighting.  However each of these lights need to be directional and brightly lit.

One key element of task lighting is to avoid shadows, and so positioning this lighting in the correct way is key to ensuring that you have a well light and functional space.

The integrated light from an extractor fan hood can create excellent direct lighting above the hob or range cooker.

Three glass pendant soften the industrial feel of the kitchen island
Three glass pendant soften the industrial feel of the kitchen island

Pendant Lighting

Pendants alone do not always provide the required light level for tasks so OWL Lighting would often recommend a combination of decorative & architectural lighting.

There is no hard and fast rule as to what height pendant lights should be hung at, but Sally from OWL Lighting suggests; “We look at the scale of the space and the height of the home owners themselves, always positioning pendants above eye level.” Sally advises to “avoid pendants over islands with bright exposed bulbs and choose those that emit most of their light towards the work surface.”

There is also no defined spacing between pendants, one must consider the width of the individual lights and their scale to ensure a balanced result. If there are too many in a space it can also look quite busy, so consider altering the scale; size, colour or quantity over each zone.

Double down-lights offer an alternative, giving more light for less fittings.  Use good quality ones with a recessed light source that shield the eye from direct glare.

Oversized copper lined pendants create an industrial feel to this traditional kitchen
One glazed pendant above this kitchen island creates visual impact
Three glass pendant lights above this Cook's table are understated and elegant

If the kitchen acts as a multifunctional space then dimmer switches are an excellent way of changing the mood of the room.  You can then reduce the brightness of task or pendant lighting when you have finished your food preparation, allowing for a more relaxed environment to socialise with guests or family, giving way to more ambient lighting

Wall lights hidden behind the open shelves create a soft ambience
Wall lights hidden behind the open shelves create a soft ambience

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the backbone for the room’s illumination.  It is the key to creating a uniform level of lighting throughout the space.

Like task lighting; ambient lighting can be created through wall or ceiling lights; either recessed spots or pendants.

Again ambient lighting must be dimmable to enable you to change the mood of the room.

Larger table lights dotted throughout the space can be hard wired to a dimmer switch, again allowing the mood to be adjusted accordingly.

The internal lights in this glazed pantry create another layer to the kitchen's ambience at night
The internal lights in this glazed pantry create another layer to the kitchen's ambience at night

Accent Lighting

This type of lighting adds visual interest to the room, contributing to the atmosphere of the space, and can often highlight features of the room or cabinetry.

At Guild Anderson we often include lights set within a glazed cabinet allowing glassware to create its very own atmosphere. 

Another option is lighting set in the door frame of a larder cabinet that automatically turn on when a cabinet door is opened.

One of the most difficult aspects when choosing the best lighting for a kitchen is creating the right balance of lighting in the room.  Task, Ambient and Accent Lighting should be harmonious throughout your kitchen to ensure that the final effect is a considered one.  Just as the cabinetry, flooring, handles, taps and paint colours work together, so should the lighting design.

If you would like to discuss the best lighting for your kitchen, please contact us

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