Kitchen Lighting Designs & Ideas –
A Complete Guide

There’s nothing worse than trying to cook or bake in a kitchen that is poorly lit. Reading recipes and measurements, determining when food is fully cooked, and judging the quality of produce -- all of these are made more difficult in a dim space.

Because today’s homes are often based on open-concept designs, the kitchen is no longer a standalone space. Many kitchens flow into and are part of family rooms, dining rooms, and even playspaces. In addition, today’s active lifestyles mean we use our kitchens more often and in a wider variety of ways -- from morning coffee to midnight snacks.

That means task lighting at cook surfaces and pantries along with design options to optimize natural lighting. It may mean coordinating the look of hanging fixtures at both a dining room table and at a breakfast bar. It may mean standing and table lamps in an adjoining living space coordinated with the look of the kitchen’s design elements.

One of the most important factors when designing the lighting for your kitchen is determining how you and your family use the space. Do you spend a lot of time cooking and baking or use it primarily to pack lunches and serve takeout? Do you entertain frequently and use the kitchen for buffet service and as a gathering space? Do you want to optimize natural light in the kitchen or are you looking for a softer light scheme? Deciding your most common uses will help you determine what is the best mix of lighting options for you.


Complete Guide to Kitchen Lighting Designs


Here you’ll find great kitchen light ideas for lighting every square inch of your kitchen the right way. It’s not just about the work you do in the kitchen -- it’s also about the beauty and design of the space.


Task Lighting

  • To make your kitchen more chef inspired, ensure that you’re properly lighting whenever and wherever you’re working. That means illuminating counters, sinks, pantry, and dining areas. It can also mean lighting you haven’t thought of, like LED lights in drawers and cabinets.

  • To ensure countertops and work surfaces are properly lighted, think about layers of lighting from overhead lights to hanging light fixtures or under-cabinet lighting.

  • Don’t forget sufficient lighting over the stove and sink to ensure proper cooking and cleaning areas. Have a window over the kitchen sink? You’ll still need sufficient illumination for evenings or cloudy days.

  • You may need additional task lighting for other areas like a kitchen island, desk area, or breakfast nook. This lighting may take a variety of forms, including hanging or pendant lamps. You may also want to install dimmer switches to ensure the lighting level is adjustable.

Accent Lighting

  • Toe kick and above cabinet lighting allow you to illuminate the highest and lowest points of the kitchen, helping to define the space and creating an attractive ambient light source.

  • If you have glass-front cabinets, niches, decorative shelving, or artwork, you may want to create accent lighting to show your display pieces to their best advantage.

  • If you frequently entertain you may want to illuminate a buffet area or a section of the kitchen counter where you normally serve to ensure your food looks beautiful and guests can easily serve themselves.

  • Track lighting, LED strips, or small puck lights can all provide easily adjusted, directional lighting to highlight specific areas of your kitchen.

General Lighting

  • Recessed lighting offers an attractive, seamless option to ensure adequate general lighting for your kitchen. You may want to consider separate switches for different areas of the kitchen, so that you can illuminate only the sink area, for example, or only the dining space.

  • For kitchens with high ceilings, flush mount light fixtures can offer an alternative to recessed lighting. For kitchens with low ceilings, a flush mount fixture can offer an alternative to pendant lighting.

  • Pendant lighting can be used to light a large area -- for example, with a large chandelier -- or a smaller area -- for example, a series of small pendants over a breakfast bar. The wide variety of options and designs means that there is a pendant light style for almost any kitchen lighting design.


If you want to bring high style, convenience, and utility to your kitchen, nothing has as much impact as proper lighting. It offers beauty while also making everything you do -- from cooking to cleaning to entertaining -- easier. Whatever your kitchen design taste, when you’re thinking about the way you live and the spaces you love, Pulte has the latest design inspiration and insights. Discover your kitchen style and your new home today.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Christy Murdock Edgar  

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Published 5.13.19

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