A Guide To Kitchen Lighting Part 1

Lighting Successful lighting in a kitchen comes from a mixture of various types of light sources to create a well-lit work space. A well-lit work area not only creates a safe cooking area, but it also creates ambience in a high-traffic space in your home.

To best set your kitchen lighting up for success, let's first let's start with the basics. There are three main types of bulbs, where each one has it's own strong points & limitations.

Basic Types of Lighting

Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are the most energy-efficient bulbs and on average last about 16 times longer than other bulbs. They glow when an electric current passes through them and come in various colors. Options include warm white LED light bulbs, cool white LED light bulbs & white LED light bulbs. In general, the lower the number, the warmer light will be visible. We have found warm white LED light bulbs look better in warm rooms & daylight white LED Light bulbs look best in cooler environments (think stainless steel & gray schemed rooms).

Fluorescent lights use electricity to excite mercury vapors. They work well in homes because they last a long time, but can give off various casts in color that may not be ideal for kitchen workspaces.

Incandescent lights emit light when an electric current heats a metal filament. They have great light quality but burn out fast because of the heat used. This type of bulb is most common, but more and more homes are leaning towards getting LED lighting because of it's energy efficiency.


The next step to best assign lighting to your rooms surrounds wattage. Watts are the standard unit for measuring electricity. There are three basic levels of lighting--average lighting is a bulb between 60-75 watts, task lighting is at about 100 watts & mood lighting is at about 40 watts.

These numbers are based on incandescent numbers, but you can easily use these guidelines for all three types of lighting--just divide the wattage by four. For example, if you are looking for task lighting which is at 100 watts on an incandescent bulb, look for a 25 watt LED light.

When picking out lights, it's important to keep wattage in mind for your various lighting functionalities. Too high a wattage won't compliment a space that calls for mood lighting. More homes are installing dimmer switches so you can create alternating lighting in one space to accommodate multiple tasks. Think along the lines of being able to have a romantic night in the kitchen with wine then transform it into to a study hub for your kiddos.


4 Types of Kitchen Lighting

The most important task in lighting your kitchen is meeting safety needs to create a well-lit work space. After this is accomplished comes the fun part! Adding accent & decorative lighting is a great way to set the mood however you like & really take your kitchen design to the next level.

Task Lighting comes in as the most important type of lighting & is bright & present. Overall, think of task lighting as light that will help you slice, dice, chop, read recipes & stay focused. Any work surface should have ample lighting at the appropriate wattage.

Cooking surfaces, counter space, your kitchen table, island, sink & stove should all have fixtures designed specifically for them that work with one another to create a well-lit space. Most fixtures should be installed about 30 inches above your work space--this can be modified if the light is over a raised surface.


Ambient lighting takes task lighting up a notch and makes your kitchen a workable, livable space. It helps soften bright, sharp task lighting & helps keep your kitchen feeling welcoming.

This type of lighting is most commonly installed as track lighting, hanging lights over an island, & flush-mounted or semi-flush mounted ceiling fixtures.

Accent lighting is becoming more popular among homes & should always come after task & ambient lighting are established. We love installing track lighting in a glass cabinet to showcase your beautiful china or liquor in your liquor cabinet. If you have an eye-catching piece of artwork and want to showcase it, accent lighting may be the perfect addition. As the kitchen becomes more than just a place to cook & prepare food, accent lighting is finding more of a home and niche.

Decorative Lighting comes in many forms, including a cascading chandelier over your kitchen island or wall sconces that line a wall in your kitchen. It's an opportunity to really show off your creativeness and done right, you'll have a statement light fixture that will catch every guest's eye.

Stay tuned for our next post as we expand on some of these lighting themes & break down new trends in kitchen lighting!