A small kitchen can be really wonderful if you think about it. You don't need to move around quite as much when you're making dinner, which increases functionality by saving you valuable prep time. Your kitchen cabinets will be dedicated to only the essentials. And you can keep your decor tight and streamlined. On the downside, a smaller zone can pose some challenges in the lighting design department. When it comes to petite cook spaces and low ceilings, large chandeliers and certain pendant lights can be a bit too overwhelming.
Space comes at a premium in these close quarters. That means you'll need to be extra-choosy with your light sources and focal points — remember that good things come in small packages. And a little simplicity can go a long way, whether you're talking pendants, wall sconces, or flush mounts. Scroll on for 20 small kitchen lighting ideas as well as some of our favorite brands that have the best petite finds.
1. Stay within your color palette.
Although it's fun to choose fixtures that are colorful and bold, a small space may call for something more subdued. To avoid overwhelming your food prep zone, choose ambient lighting that fits perfectly within your color palette. Cassandra of Coco Kelley did this in her own home — the white globe style kitchen pendant lighting is quietly juxtaposed against white walls.
Get the look: West Elm Sculptural Glass Globe Pendant, $79
2. Make a small statement.
You don't need a huge, elaborate chandelier to create a standout culinary space. Instead, task lighting directly over the kitchen sink will pack a bigger punch than you think, as proven by this kitchen that belongs to Brittany of The House that Lars Built. The midcentury-inspired fixture is certainly eye-catching. And thanks to the concise design, it's not overwhelming.
Get the look: Lumens Pendulum LED Mini Pendant, Lumens, $193.20
3. Keep it simple.
Simplicity is oh-so-important when it comes to small kitchen lights. Oversize, ornamental fixtures can be too much in tight quarters. We recommend displaying unfussy, toned-down accents, which is exactly what Robert and Christina of New Darlings did in their culinary space. If you go with a similar glass shade, try energy-efficient Edison bulbs that are equally minimal.
Get the look: Mitzi Jessie 12" Mini Wide Aged Brass Pendant Light, $224
4. Install multiple wall sconces.
Instead of looking to the ceiling, venture to the walls for accent lighting opportunities. In fact, wall sconces can illuminate your space evenly, and they don't require tons of space. Jenny of Juniper Home can see everything on her open shelving thanks to these tiny brass fixtures.
Get the look: L/Y Modern Indoor Adjustable Wall Mount Lamps, $23.99
5. Choose sleek kitchen sink lighting.
Follow the minimalists' lead, and opt for small kitchen lighting that showcases sleek curves. Wall fixtures like these are classic and won't compete with any of the decor in your cook space. Adrianna of A Cozy Kitchen placed a black-and-white sconce above her sink, and it looks easy and sophisticated.
Get the look: Light Society 2-Light Double Globe Wall Sconce, $55.97
6. Hang a single pendant light.
Sure, everyone seems to be hanging multiple pendant lights above their kitchen islands these days. But for your teeny space, a single ceiling light will more than suffice. This way you can indulge in the pendant trend without overpowering your cook space. And we love the pretty, uncomplicated fixture that Ashley of Ashton used in her kitchen.
Get the look: Circa Geneva Medium Pendant, Circa, $120
7. Only illuminate essential areas.
Want one of our best interior design tips? Your kitchen doesn't require a dozen lights to be well-lit. A few carefully chosen fixtures will do the job, and you can place them over areas where you could use a extra illumination. For example, in this culinary space crafted by Ashley of Under the Sycamore, a modern wall sconce highlights open shelving.
Get the look: AllModern Cords 1 Light Armed Sconce, $140
8. Opt for flush and semi-flush mount lights.
Flush and semi-flush mounts are your BFFs in a small kitchen. They won't hang too low, which is ideal when you're lacking ceiling height (no more bumping your head on a chandelier), and they won't interfere with the aesthetics. Alison of Deuce Cities Farmhouse used these vintage-esque fixtures in her small space, and the result is simply radiant.
Get the look: Birch Lane Maolis Semi-Flush Mount, $79
9. Highlight the cabinets.
To really transform your small kitchen into a special space, add a little flash and function with cabinet lighting that goes inside and underneath. We're so fixated on these lovely illuminated glass cabinets that we can hardly focus on the rest of this refreshingly gorgeous space from Lisette Voute.
Get the look: COSORO Hinge LED Sensor Kitchen Cupboard/Cabinet Light, $18.99
10. Don't rule out chandeliers.
We did say keep it simple when it comes to lighting a small kitchen, but as long as it's not too elaborate, a chandelier can work. For instance, as a part of The Honeycombe Home's kitchen renovation, they installed this DIY chandelier which added a nice personal touch without overcrowding the space.
Get the look: Tadpoles 3 Light White Diamond Mini Chandelier, $53
11. Keep it cohesive.
Mixing and matching styles works for larger spaces, but cohesion helps small areas look less cluttered. This kitchen from Crystal Ann Interiors masters the art of style continuity in an open floor plan by matching the modern lighting in the kitchen to the modern fixtures in the adjoining living area.
Get the look: Project 62 Globe Head Swag Lights, $62
12. Illuminate more space with track lighting.
For many small kitchen owners, pendants are a go-to, but we like the idea of track lighting above the island because it can be adjusted to cast illumination in various directions. This simple three-spotlight strip from IKEA will get the job done and look good to boot.
Get the look: IKEA Skurup 3 Spotlight Ceiling Track, $24.99
13. Don't forgo style.
Don't get so focused on simplicity that you forget the element of style. In Brady Tolbert's modern-meets-glam kitchen, though it's super narrow, the space is still overflowing with style. The dome pendant lights go perfectly with the black and white checkered flooring and gold hardware.
Get the look: Breakwater Bay Russ 1 Light Single Dome Pendant, $105.99
14. Make natural and artificial light work together.
We love the way the artificial and natural lighting come together to illuminate this fresh mint green and white kitchen from deVOL. The placement of a swing arm wall lamp near a skylight and a large window fills the space with rays, giving it an open, breezy feel.
Get the look: Joss & Main Catalina 1 Light Swing Arm, $170
15. Install lights above the counters and island.
If you're looking to maximize the light, put your fixtures everywhere, even in less obvious spaces like below your floating shelves and cabinets. This small kitchen from Ronen Lev features LED lighting that aptly illuminates the counter space and the island.
Get the look: YLighting Modular Track Lighting, $124.48
16. Choose lighting that helps minimize shadows.
In small kitchens, one nifty way to reduce or completely eliminate shadows is to go with recessed lighting and position the fixtures at least three feet away from walls. This is a simple technique that Anneli Bush executes with ease.
Get the look: Aspect LED Modern Micro Series 3 LED Recessed Lighting, $44.40
17. Create a mood with adjustable lighting.
This Old Brand New kitchen design is bright and cheery, but we guarantee that the mood can instantly become subtle and intimate, thanks to the adjustable wall-mounted fixtures. These movable scones can direct the light to specific areas, instantly altering the environment on the user's whim.
Get the look: Serena & Lily Claremont Sconce, $328
18. Match your lighting fixtures to the kitchen shape.
This technique works particularly well if you have a galley kitchen or a traditional layout. A statment-making, square LED light like the one in this small kitchen design will feel super modern and sleek.
Get the look: Airand Square LED Ceiling Lamp, $39.99
19. Choose contrasting colors.
When decorating this modern kitchen, Kresswell Interiors added depth and sophistication with a matte black color palette accessorized with brass-accented lighting fixtures. The white shades work well with the wall paint in the entryway to mark the division of space.
Get the look: CB2 Bell White Flush Mount Light, $59.95
20. Choose transparent lighting fixtures.
See-through light fixtures like the hanging clear bulb fixture in this These Four Walls kitchen design are such an effortless way to make a small culinary zone look larger. Juxtaposed against the cool gray walls and cabinetry, the simple fixture is unassuming enough to create the illusion of more space. And it works in conjunction with the natural lighting from a nearby window to provide ample illumination.
Get the look: Rejuvenation Angled Pendant Clear Glass, $399
What is the best lighting for a small kitchen?
While the lighting choice you make ultimately depends on personal taste, options like LED, single pendants, and recessed fixtures will go a long way toward maximizing a modestly sized cooking space. Also ensure that the lights are evenly spaced throughout the room — the last thing you want is to make your tiny kitchen feel even smaller. And in most cases, avoid large, over-the-top fixtures to help conserve vertical space.
Where to Buy Small Kitchen Lighting
Finding the perfect light fixtures for your small kitchen isn't a tiny task, but we're here to help with our go-to brands.
Hudson Valley Lighting: This company is a cult favorite among designers and in-the-know homeowners. All of the lighting is gorgeous, but the pieces that will work particularly well in your small cook space are the on-trend wall sconces and flush mounts.
Schoolhouse: For sleek, minimal, and very cool fixtures, shop Schoolhouse. Uncomplicated lighting is ideal for a tiny kitchen, and this brand excels at simple lines and subtly curved shapes.
Lucent Lightshop: To inject a little bit of whimsy into your petite space, peruse Lucent Lightshop. Here, you'll find midcentury-inspired sconces, fanciful flush mounts, and even old school ceiling medallions.