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What kind of lighting is best for the kitchen?

In kitchens you generally have two purposes for lighting: ambient lighting to generally light the room, and task lighting to spotlight a specific work area. No kind of lighting does both these perfectly, so you’ll most likely have to choose two kinds of lighting to fulfil both purposes.

Common kitchen lighting solutions include recessed, strip, spotlight, flush-mounted, and pendant. In this blog, we’ll cover inspiration for using all these types.

Kitchen ceiling lighting ideas

Your ceiling lights are generally used as the ambient lighting in your kitchen, to gently illuminate the whole room rather than specifically light up work or food prep areas.

You may even choose to install dimmer switches for your kitchen ceiling lights, to give yourself more control over the balance of lighting between your ambient and task lights.

Pendant lights

Pendant lights are a stylish lighting option for those who want to make a statement. Pendant lights come in a huge range of colours, shapes and materials, so there really is something for every kitchen, traditional or modern.

Pendant lights can be installed individually, or you can purchase a set of multiple pendants to be hung in a line through the length of your kitchen. If you’re sticking to a neutral colour scheme, something as small as pendant lights are where you can introduce a splash of colour or an eye-catching shape, that will really put your personal stamp on the kitchen design.

Kitchen Lighting Ceiling Pendant
Instagram: @englishrosekitchens

Recessed lights

Recessed lights are a more seamless kitchen ceiling lighting choice, due to the fact that the bulbs are fitted into a hollow space in the ceiling. They’re particularly suitable for kitchens with low ceilings, where you want to avoid hanging lights encroaching on the space.

White recessed lights that are the same colour as the ceiling will blend in and give your kitchen a lighter, more airy feel. If your kitchen is a galley layout or quite narrow, recessed lights placed periodically along the length of the ceiling will help to avoid shadows or dark corners in your space.

Kitchen Lighting Ceiling Recessed
Instagram: @spillerskitchens

Flush-mounted lights

If you don’t have the height in your room to accommodate a hanging pendant but still want to make a statement with your lighting, a flush-mounted light is a nice compromise.

Flush-mounted lights sit close to the ceiling so you can maintain the sense of space in your kitchen, but you can pick out a creative shade design that still adds personality to the look.

Kitchen Lighting Ceiling Flush Mounted
Instagram: @atlantiskitchensltd

Undercabinet lighting ideas

Whatever you choose for your ceiling lights, it’s also useful to have some undercabinet lighting to accompany it. Undercabinet lights have the benefit of not having anything in the way to cast a shadow, making them an ideal task lighting solution.

The low position of undercabinet lighting also means they won’t cast glare across the rest of the kitchen, so you can select brighter lights. Do consider your worktop material though before committing to bright bulbs, as gloss countertops will reflect light more harshly than matte.

Strip lights

LED strip lights are a stylish solution that subtly illuminate the whole counter. This is the preferred solution if you want a less harsh light that will light up a larger workspace, and provide a relaxing ambience for entertaining. Strip lighting also does a great job of creating a nice glowing outline around your units.

Kitchen Lighting Under Cabinet Strip
Instagram: @kbkstudio


Spotlights are a brighter, more concentrated approach, that’s more suited to task lighting. Spotlights can either be fitted in isolation or as a set in a row so that they still illuminate most of the worktop.

Kitchen Lighting Under Cabinet Spotlight
Instagram: @mackintoshkitchens

Kitchen island lighting ideas

The lighting you put over your kitchen island will largely depend on what you use your island for; if it’s purely a social space, accent lighting is all you need, but if it’s also a work prep space, you’ll need to consider how you elegantly implement some task lighting above the island.


Pendants are a popular look for kitchen islands, as a row of two or three pendants fits perfectly above the linear run of an island. With the right shaped shade, they can also work quite well as spotlights, if they direct the light straight downwards onto the countertop.

Kitchen Lighting Island Pendant
Instagram: @astleykitchens


For an alternative to pendant lights, consider a chandelier! Chandeliers add an element of grandeur to your kitchen and are a great fit for more traditional, kitschy or shabby chic kitchens.

As they so naturally draw the eye, a chandelier will make your kitchen island the focal point of the room. However, take time to carefully select a chandelier size and style that fits neatly above your island, and doesn’t overpower other features in the kitchen.

Kitchen Lighting Island Chandelier
Instagram: @allidomo_interiors

Under counter strip lights

If you have a modern styled kitchen, LED strip lights under the edge of your kitchen island counter can create a really dramatic look, especially when teamed with a glass worktop.

LED strips will cast a soft glow around the edge of your island, and create definition around the space. This can serve as ambient lighting if the main kitchen light is too bright, and can be a nice touch when hosting people for a party or dinner.

Kitchen Lighting Island Strip Lights
Instagram: @surrey_interiors

There you have it - kitchen lighting ideas for every area of the kitchen!