Kitchen Lighting Ideas & Inspiration

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When you're working on a kitchen design, there are tons of features and fixtures you'll need to choose. There's the countertop, sink, cabinets, flooring, backsplash, hardware, and last but not least, the accent lighting. Long gone are the days when kitchen illumination was reduced to recessed cans, track lighting, and traditional chandeliers. Today, there seems to be as many kitchen lighting options as stars in the sky, which is amazing and overwhelming at the same time. But with the right tips and tricks, you can simplify the decision process and select the best fixtures for your home in no time.

Design a Kitchen Lighting Plan

First things first: You should take a look at your kitchen layout before starting the makeover or remodel. Pay attention to key spots that require extra illumination. Could the cabinetry use a bit more downlight? Do you require task lighting fixtures above the kitchen island and sink? Perhaps your breakfast nook should have a glam ceiling light?

The kitchen layout (and your lighting needs) will help you determine where to place certain fixtures. This spacious blue and white kitchen relies on both recessed lighting and farmhouse-style glass pendants with Edison light bulbs for an even glow.

It might come as a surprise, but there are many fixtures that you can DIY and install yourself — however, there are also those that require the help of an electrician. For example, if you live in an older home, a professional will likely need to check the wiring to make sure it's compatible with any modern light fixtures. A pro can also be helpful if you go with vintage chandeliers.

On a budget? Keep in mind that lamps and ceiling fixtures can get fairly expensive, especially if you want an option that's energy efficient and made using quality materials like brass, alabaster, or crystals. The price tag can also get steep if you purchase an antique or lighting from prominent design houses and high-end brands. Save some money by keeping your eyes peeled for online sales, tracking down coupon codes, and shopping big-box retailers. You might be surprised by what you find.

Armed with these kitchen lighting tips, your next step will be to contemplate the existing home decor and style of your cook space.

Kitchen Lighting Styles

When it comes to the design approach of your cook space, you can go in two directions with the ambient light vibes. You can either choose fixtures that are the opposite of the space's existing style — we're all for modern wall sconces in a traditional kitchen or a brass pendant instead of typical boho kitchen lighting — or you can stay true to your aesthetic. If you prefer the latter, more typical approach, search for fixtures that can be woven seamlessly into the design.

Wondering where to start? For farmhouse kitchen lighting, look to a fixture rendered in well-loved materials like distressed wood or aged metal. Shiny stainless steel won't typically work here. Instead, go for hammered brass and antiqued cast iron.

Retro kitchens require midcentury fixtures with curves. Think globe-style pendant lighting or mobile chandeliers.

In a classic cook space, look for traditional lanterns as well as schoolhouse sconces.

And what if you have a contemporary or newer space? To get a modern kitchen light design, go sleek, sophisticated, and minimal.

The moral of the story? We guarantee there's a plethora of options for every kitchen style that exists.

Different Types of Kitchen Lighting Fixtures

There is also a myriad of lighting variations that can work in your cook space. Many of these options can be mixed together, as beautifully demonstrated in this kitchen that also happens to be filled with stunning natural light.

Pendants

You've probably seen these mounted over all of your favorite kitchen islands on Pinterest. In fact, pendant lights might be one of the most popular types. A single fixture that hangs from the ceiling by a cord or chain and provides a great source of downlight, this accent is perfect for kitchen islands, bars, or sinks.

Chandeliers

When you think of a chandelier, you might picture an old fashioned ceiling fixture with crystals and ornate touches. However, there are plenty that are perfectly fresh and minimal. Equipped with multiple branches or arms for several light bulbs, chandeliers tend to work best in larger kitchens with tall ceilings because the cord drop could take up too much space in a more petite cooking area.

Flush Mounts

A flush mount is a light fixture affixed to the ceiling with little to no cord hang. It can provide a touch of practicality and simplicity in any kitchen. They're the opposite of chandeliers in that they stay out of the way and are especially handy as a small kitchen light idea. You can also choose a semi-flush mount, which is the flush mount's decorative lighting cousin. It tends to hang a bit lower.

Sconces

Wall sconces are ideal for lighting open shelving and walls that tend to feel dark and drab. They can be minimal, traditional, or modern, but it's usually a great idea to mount two complementary sconces to enhance the symmetry in your culinary space.

Recessed Lighting

We can't forget to mention recessed lighting. These utilitarian fixtures are far from sexy, but they're the easiest and most common option for providing general overhead lighting throughout the entire kitchen. Place them on a dimmer to create multiple lighting moods.

Lamps

Don't limit yourself to the standard lighting design ideas. You can also pick a plug-in, alternative light fixture (which is an especially great lighting idea for renters). Think outside the box, and display a table lamp on a countertop, island, or even on your open shelves. Floor lamps can also be a great addition if you have the space.

Where to Shop for Kitchen Light Fixtures

The Home Depot

Schoolhouse

Lowe's

Lamps Plus

Walmart

Mitzi