Lighting Style Guide: Lighting in Your Kitchen

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In this third installment  in a series of four about lighting in the most important rooms of your home,  lighting expert and blogger Emily Widle gives us the skinny on lighting in a room that is, in many homes, the nerve center of activity: the kitchen.

In the kitchen, striking the balance between function and style that serves everyone in the household is immensely important, since this is the room where a lot of family interaction is going to take place. So, here’s Emily, our guest lighting expert, lays it all out for us …


Lighting designers often talk about creating “layers of light” in a room, and the kitchen is no doubt the most important room in the house to implement this.  As the kitchen’s functionality shifts throughout the day, the level of light needed changes as well.

Think about it: focused bright light is ideal for meal preparation, whether you are reading a recipe or chopping vegetables on the counter.  Well-designed ambient light sets the mood for socializing and entertaining friends.  A soft glow is helpful for a late-night trip for a glass of water or snack.

In order to design a kitchen that adapts perfectly to any situation, you’ll have to establish layers of light.  The effect will truly transform your kitchen into a room you want to spend time in.

Level 1: General Lighting

Many people make the mistake of establishing general lighting in the kitchen and stopping there.  This is an essential component, but if it stands alone, you will be missing out on high-quality design potential.  In addition, your kitchen will be shadowy and unevenly lit.  General lighting is still an important component as it is simply the base of the lighting design.  Recessed lighting, ceiling lights, and over cabinet lights are all great general lighting options; it just depends on which style you prefer.

Level 2: Task Lighting

Under cabinet lighting is a must in the kitchen for both function and style.  The illumination of your backsplash creates a bright surface that enhances your kitchen’s appearance, and the focused light will allow you to cook in an environment that’s easy on the eyes.  Under cabinet lighting can also double as a night light, especially if you have a dimmer installed.

The area over the sink also typically requires additional focused light.  For task lighting that is not underneath a cabinet, consider adding a pendant light or two.  Their glass shades are extremely unique and can create a stunning effect in the kitchen.

Level 3: Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is for that additional “oomph” – the part that officially completes your kitchen’s transformation into a beautiful, expertly-designed room.  Accent lighting is a little more fluid, and it depends on your individual space.  Do you have an interesting painting you would like to spotlight, or a plant you could silhouette with an uplight?  Think about how you can use accent lighting to put your own unique touch on your kitchen.


Once again, thanks Emily!  Be sure to swing on by next Monday for the last in this series about lighting from Emily; lighting in your bathroom!

While you’re waiting, I recommend that you follow Pegasus Associates Lighting on Twitter and ‘like’ the Pegasus Associates Lighting Facebook page.




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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.