Kitchen Lighting Guide

Let there be light! Far from simply being a room in which to prepare and cook food, kitchens are now designed to accommodate the varied and multifaceted nature of modern life. 

With the litany of practical tasks and social situations a kitchen is needed to provide for—whether it’s dining, entertaining, or working—it stands to reason that the lighting in this all-purpose room must be equally dextrous.

The smart addition of lighting can perform many functions. It can illuminate entire areas of your kitchen, or individual sections to help facilitate particular activities and jobs. Perhaps you have a designated zone for food preparation? A well-positioned spotlight could be just the thing!

Meanwhile, from a design perspective, carefully-installed lighting can be hugely beneficial—from creating the illusion of space in smaller kitchens, to offsetting the issue of poor natural light. 

To help navigate the challenges you might face when formulating a coherent and effective lighting scheme, we’ve rustled up a handy guide.

Task lighting in an Unfitted kitchen

Planning and design

As with any important design decision, lighting installation is a feature that needs to be settled on early in the planning stage. When you’re figuring out the layout of your freestanding kitchen—where each surface will go, the location of islands and utility spaces—THIS is the time to choose your lighting scheme. Your aim is to create harmony, clean aesthetics and functionality, so it’s crucial to find a set-up that coordinates with the overall design of your kitchen. 

Consider each individual zone of your kitchen, and work out what kind of illumination is required for each space. Dining areas, for example, will call for a different degree of lighting to that, say, of a workstation. 

And that leads to an essential question:

What kind of lighting do I need for my kitchen?

Food preparation, culinary tasks, washing up; all these processes will require some form of task lighting. These functional additions aim to target specific areas such as cabinets, worktops, cookers and sinks. Any location in your kitchen where you need—in the simplest possible terms—to see what on earth you’re doing!

There are plenty of task lighting variants available to you—from small, understated LEDs, to flexible strip lighting that can be fixed to the underside of cupboards to illuminate particular workstations. LEDs can be flush-fitted to the ceiling for a contemporary aesthetic—complete with directional spots to create a focused light wherever it’s needed.

Modern kitchen design by Unfitted

Create a mood

For those intimate dining occasions, or a relaxed evening curled up with a good book, mood lighting is a key ingredient in creating atmosphere and soft ambience. A good first step on the road to installing effective mood lighting is to determine how much natural light pours into your kitchen. From there, you can work out the scale of soft lighting you’ll need for particular settings. Mood lighting can come in many forms; from dimmable wall lights, to decorative systems like shelf or feature lights. 

To establish a relaxing atmosphere, wall lights are a great choice as they provide a brilliantly subtle background illumination. If you’re blessed with high ceilings, uplighters atop kitchen cabinets will accentuate the room’s natural light, while simultaneously minimizing the number of downlights you’ll require.

Highlight those features!

To add depth and dynamism to your kitchen, the addition of accent or feature lighting can be a smart choice. Its aim is to naturally highlight interesting components of the room and, as the name suggests, make features out of them. 

It’s entirely up to where you place your accent lighting, and Unfited are always on hand with any advice if you’re unsure what system might suit your kitchen best. Whether they’re installed in the recesses of beautiful oak shelving, under cabinets to create the illusion of floating units, or you want to cast light over your handcrafted kitchen island:the choice, as ever, is yours!

Pendant kitchen lighting

Pendant lighting

If your evening meals are lacking a sense of intimacy, the addition of low-hanging pendant lighting above the dining table is a great choice. Not only will this visually distinguish the dining area from the rest of the kitchen, an elegant single statement piece can really add character and style to your space. If it’s high-end glamour you’re looking for, why not invest in a chandelier?

You needn’t stop at intimate illumination above the dining table. Thoughtfully-placed pendant lighting can also act as perfectly good task lighting above kitchen islands and workstations. 

There are plenty of styles to choose from when it comes to pendant lighting; from traditional bowl pendants—a common solution thanks to their unfussy yet functional design—to more contemporary alternatives like exposed bulbs or industrial-style copper lamps.

Keep it natural

In the search for that perfect kitchen lighting system, one that combines both glorious aesthetics and pure function, there’s often no substitute for natural light. Utilizing windows, skylights and French doors in the daytime will help saturate your kitchen space with sunlight—thus creating a naturally bright room in which to cook, dine, socialize and entertain. 

It’s a good idea to design your kitchen around these wellsprings of natural light; use windows and other sources of illumination to your advantage. Think about the positioning of your workstations, dining tables, breakfast bars—any area where daylight might be most useful!  

Natural kitchen lighting

Stay in control!

As well as your basic on/off switches—designed to descend a room into darkness, or flood it with light in an instant—dimmer switches are a super method of controlling the ambience and character of your kitchen. Forget the binary choice of light or dark; dimmers let you toggle the system, creating subtle soft glows at the turn of a dial.  

And if that’s not enough, modern lighting hardware lets you predetermine the settings for certain times of the day. All of which can be regulated via a smart device or through voice activation software. Modify colours, brightness, beam types. You are completely in control.

As ever, Hugo & Blake are here to help when it comes to finding the perfect lighting system for your kitchen. With the hundreds of options available to you, we are always on hand to advise, inform and answer questions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to chat!

Posted on October 19th 2021

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