Lighting plays a central role in every space in your home, from the utility room to the bathroom designs to outdoor spaces. The kitchen is no exception, and, in fact, this multi-functional, busy space requires careful planning to create a lighting design that will meet all your needs.
Start by understanding the types of lighting and what role each plays in your kitchen. Examine your space and how you use your kitchen design to determine where you need lighting and what type of lighting you require. Then consider your design style and how your chosen light fixtures can enhance your kitchen’s design aesthetic, whether it is used to illuminate a specific design feature or the light fixture itself is a style statement.
Let’s explore everything you need to know about creating the perfect lighting plan for your kitchen!
What role does lighting play in a kitchen design?
Whether you are planning a brand new kitchen design or simply want to freshen up your existing kitchen with a basic renovation, improving your lighting will have a huge impact on your kitchen’s style and functionality. Depending on how you use your kitchen, lighting must be able to perform multiple roles.
Whether you are reading recipes or the fine print on the back of cans you must have strong lighting in key areas to create a functional kitchen design. If you also dine, entertain, or relax in your kitchen, then softer light sources are essential. Kitchen light fixtures are also part of your kitchen’s style and must work together with other design elements to create a cohesive style. If your kitchen is part of an open-plan first floor, then your lighting must flow naturally from the kitchen to adjacent dining and living areas.
The key to creating a lighting design that fits your kitchen’s style and functionality needs is to carefully plan your lighting requirements and fixtures at the beginning of the kitchen design process. Work with an experienced kitchen remodeling professional to find the ideal kitchen lighting for your home. Our guide to kitchen lighting will help inspire your choices and enhance your understanding of what goes into a cohesive lighting plan.
What are the key types of lighting?
For any space in your home, lighting designs require more than one type of lighting. Depending on the room and your preferences, some types of lighting are more important than others. Also, a single light fixture can serve more than one purpose in a room’s lighting scheme. Here are the main types of lighting to consider:
Task Lighting serves as the focused lighting required for workspaces, such as under cabinets, over your island, at the sink, stove, and dishwasher, or other countertop workspaces. You need this targeted lighting wherever you are reading, chopping, cooking, or performing other tasks for which you need to see clearly. Natural lighting, spotlights, recessed lights, undercabinet lights, and pendants can all serve as task light sources.
Ambient Lighting is your general light source throughout a room and typically provides the softer lighting that transforms your kitchen from purely functional to a space where you can dine, relax, and hang out with family and friends. It gives your space warmth and character and can even help to define separate zones for different functions such as a dining area or an entertainment space. Include multiple light sources to get the effect you want in each area of your kitchen, such as wall sconces, table lamps (yes, they can have a place in a kitchen!), over cabinet lights, toe kick lights, or recessed or pendant lights with a dimmer switch to change lighting levels depending on your needs.
Accent Lighting lets you highlight favorite design features, artwork, decorative glassware in glass front cabinets, or accessories on open shelves. This could look like spotlights, sconces, or uplighters, carefully positioned so that they show off features you love. If you spent hours picking the perfect tile for a feature section, why not highlight it to everyone who walks into the room? If you hung a special painting that provided inspiration for your kitchen design color scheme, include picture lights to draw attention to it.
Decorative Lighting has a place in kitchen designs just as much as any other room in your home. With the latest styles in light fixtures, you can select lighting that not only illuminates your island or dining table but also creates a stunning focal point and enhances your design aesthetic. From a chandelier over the dining table to large pendants over the island, in natural materials that give your design an organic feel to mixed metallic finishes that create a contemporary style icon, there are light fixtures that will complete your room’s like while also providing essential lighting.
Kitchen Lighting Trends to Inspire Your Design
Today’s kitchen design lighting trends focus on balancing style and functionality, letting you easily create a multi-layered lighting design that will fit your family’s needs from morning to night!
Create a Focal Point
Light fixtures are a relatively low-risk way to add a bit of drama to your kitchen design, as these elements can be changed over time much more easily than cabinetry or tile. Eye-catching light fixtures create a focal point, naturally drawing the eye to specific areas of your kitchen design, such as the island, peninsula, or dining table. They are also excellent ways to delineate a specific zone, for example, a dramatic pendant or architectural chandelier over your kitchen table sets it apart from your kitchen work zones.
There are many ways to make a statement with bold light fixtures:
- Draw attention with a large light fixture, such as an oversized pendant. Make sure your light fixture is not disproportionate to the rest of your kitchen design or to the area it covers.
- Instead of one large light, include a cluster of light fixtures, such as a grouping of glass or metal pendants over an island.
- Choose a material or finish that stands out from other elements of your kitchen design, such as a mixed metallic light fixture.
- Select light fixtures in an accent color that either stands out on its own or else picks up on accessories or other design features.
- If you have a cozy seating area such as a breakfast nook or a reading corner, include a table lamp or an arc floor lamp.
Include Multi-Functional Light Sources
In meeting the various lighting requirements for a busy kitchen design, you don’t need to have separate light fixtures for each purpose. Depending on the location and your needs, one light fixture can serve more than one purpose. For example, pendant lights over an island can be ideal for targeted task lighting when you need to see clearly in order to chop vegetables or review the next step in your recipe. If you pair the pendants with a dimmer switch, then, voila! You now have soft ambient light that sets the mood for a cozy dinner for two or a special celebration with friends. Undercabinet lighting can serve to highlight the decorative details of your kitchen backsplash, while also providing lights aimed at the countertop where you engage in food prep and clean up. By carefully planning your lighting scheme at the kitchen design stage of the process, you can efficiently meet all your functional and style goals.
Add Smart Lighting Controls
Technology is ever present in modern life, and the kitchen is no exception, even your kitchen light fixtures! While dimmer switches let you effectively and manually alter light levels, smart lighting takes this one step further and allows you to control your lighting from your smart device. With a smart lighting system, you can change light levels and color, track energy consumption, and turn lights on and off with ease. You can also save settings for specific needs, allowing you to take your home from day to evening or family night to party central a tap on your phone or tablet.
Make a Statement with Sculptural Lines
Today’s decorative light fixtures have moved beyond your grandmother’s dining room chandelier! Lighting that features sculptural or architectural lines, or even natural lines that emulate the peaks of mountains or the curve of a river, is very popular today. These light fixtures balance style and functionality in an eye-catching focal point that may feature a combination of materials such as wood, metal, or glass. Their unique shapes draw attention and attract people to gather around key zones in your kitchen such as dining or entertainment spaces.
Mix Up Your Materials
Once you decide to go beyond recessed lights for your kitchen design, your light fixtures immediately become a feature of your room’s style. They enhance your design with their size, shape, materials, texture, and color or finish. One of the latest trends is to mix metallic finishes, which works beautifully with light fixtures. You can select a light fixture in a metal finish that complements but differs from the rest of your room’s features, such as cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures. Or you could select a light fixture that incorporates more than one metallic finish, such as gold and matte black to create a truly eye-catching focal point. Another approach is to choose a light fixture that mixes materials, for example, glass and metal. This adds another element to your design, by layering textures.
Incorporate Natural Light
Natural lighting, through windows, glass doors, or skylights, should form part of your lighting design. Include as much natural light as possible in your kitchen, as it offers daylight that reduces your need to turn on lights (and saves you money!) while also serving as a connection to your outdoor spaces. Consider placing key work areas such as the kitchen sink near a window so you can enjoy the view while benefiting from natural light. You could also place your dining table or breakfast nook near a large window, bay window, or close to glass doors so you can bask in natural light while enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book.
Create Your Ideal Kitchen Lighting Design
Whether you are planning a full kitchen remodel or just a partial renovation, updating your lighting is an ideal way to improve your kitchen’s functionality and style. Start by reviewing your space and where you will need lighting to see to perform key tasks. Then look at what else you plan to do in your kitchen, such as helping with homework, hosting a book club, or eating dinner with family. Select a variety of light sources and light fixtures that serve more than one purpose to create a multi-layered lighting scheme that takes you from work to relaxation with ease. Choose light fixtures that also enhance your room’s style with their shape, texture, and color or finish.
At Guthrie Kitchen & Bath Plus LLC we are ready to help with all your kitchen remodeling needs. From creating a design concept that fits your home and lifestyle to choosing the perfect products, including light fixtures, to installing your kitchen, we are the only place you need to visit.