Lighting is often considered last in a kitchen design process, with extensions, appliances, countertops, and cabinets taking the most attention. But the right lighting is just as important as any other aspect of your design, impacting functionality and aesthetics. Here’s a guide to the best kitchen lighting ideas from our London design and build company to help inspire you.

What is the Best Lighting to Have in a Kitchen?

The best lighting for a kitchen is a combination of:

Ambient lighting – This is general lighting for the space and the foundation of your kitchen lighting. Good options include recessed kitchen ceiling lights, wall sconces, or ceiling lamps. In this East Dulwich kitchen design, ambient lighting is provided by wall mounted sconces as well as discrete recessed lighting.

Ambient lighting in a kitchen extension in East Dulwich, London.

Task lighting – This is the lighting you need to work in the space. It’s direct and focused in areas where you prep and cook food, giving you good visibility over your tasks. In this Herne Hill kitchen design, you can easily see how the task lighting at the sink and prep area brings the necessary light into the workspace.

Task lighting in a kitchen extension in Herne Hill, London.

Accent lighting – This gives the space its unique feel and style, setting the mood. It can be used to draw the eye to the most appealing furnishings in the space, which is especially useful when you have a kitchen dining area, and it brings cohesion or zoning to the overall interior design, which is important when you have an open plan or multi-use space. For example, in this Muswell Hill kitchen design, you can see how the pendant lights and glass light create a separate but complementary feel between the kitchen and dining space.

Accent lighting in a kitchen extension in Muswell Hill, London.

How to Best Light up a Kitchen

With those 3 types of lighting needed in your kitchen design, here are some kitchen light design ideas for making it as effective and attractive as possible:

Go bold and big – Accent lighting should show off the creative side of this highly functional space, so don’t be afraid to add visual interest and style with a larger pendant light, several pendant lights, or a chandelier. Lights that are too small can make the space feel bottom heavy and out of proportion.

Brighten task areas – Task lighting is the most functional, so you want bright lighting to light up the prep, cooking, and washing up areas. Directional lighting tends to be an issue because it causes you to cast a shadow over the countertop, so we recommend hidden under-cabinet lighting strips.

Use dimmers for atmosphere – Big light fittings, multiple recessed kitchen ceiling lights, and multiple bulbs in ambient and accent lighting can easily overpower a kitchen, especially if it’s a small space. Adding dimmers along with warm, low watt bulbs is one of the best kitchen lighting ideas – and a must-have to create a warm, social area.

How to Choose Kitchen Lights

Everyone’s taste is different, so when it comes to choosing the right kitchen light designs, the style is all yours. With that in mind, there are a few things to consider:

Material – Kitchens attract a lot more dirt, grease, and dust, so it’s worthwhile getting light fittings that are easy to clean, avoiding materials like raw wood/fibre, cotton, and other absorbent textiles. We love the clean, chic look that the kitchen pendant lights in this Barnet kitchen design create.

Easy to clean light fittings in a kitchen extension in Barnet, London.

Focus areas – Think about what you want your lighting to highlight in your space. Some good ideas include your kitchen island, your dining table, or even artwork and beautiful shelving. In this Muswell Hill kitchen design, you can see how the bold, dramatic lighting elevates the cooking island into a luxurious space for entertaining.

Dramatic lighting in a kitchen extension in Muswell Hill, London.

Height – When installing your kitchen lights, set them so that they are either above typical head height or over a dining table or island if they’re a bit lower. This will keep them up and out of the way in a busy space.

Things to Consider When Lighting Your Kitchen

Light is functional, aesthetic, and not always easy to design. So, here are some tips for getting the ultimate result in lighting your space:

Consider your aesthetic – Thankfully, the days of fluorescent lighting and boring bulbs are long past. Now you can choose lightbulbs that further enhance your space, from LEDs designed like 19th century intumescent lighting and Edison bulbs like those in this Saint John’s kitchen design to chic, minimalist designs like in this Chiswick renovation and funky, playful lighting like this Clapham kitchen renovation.

Kitchen extension with Edison bulbs in Saint John's, London.

Wattage – Choose low wattage LEDs as these offer the best energy savings

Kelvin – The higher the lightbulb’s number in Kelvin (K), the bluer and crisper the light, while lower numbers give a warmer, yellow glow. Around 4,500 – 5,500 K is good for task lighting, while 2,700 – 3,500 K is better for ambient and accent lighting.

What Type of Lighting is Best for a Small Kitchen?

Kitchen Extension in London with crafted chandelier.

Small kitchens can’t always accommodate large lighting systems, but that shouldn’t hold you back. Some great small kitchen light design ideas include having an eye-catching chandelier, several mini-pendant lights, or even naked industrial bulbs create focal points that make the space bigger, brighter, and unique – especially when paired with recessed ceiling kitchen lights.

Mini pendants in this East Dulwich home draw the eye up to compliment the vaulted ceiling, while the single, crafted chandelier in this Southfields home adds character and flair without getting in the way. In this Ealing kitchen, the simply-hung industrial bulbs add style in a minimalist way that doesn’t overcrowd the space.

See more kitchen design ideas here.

From Extensions to Lighting, our London Design and Build Company Does it All

Plus Rooms is a leading design and construction firm in London that specialises in custom kitchen designs. Our talented team will lead you through the process from start to finish, helping you get the best floorplan, features, lighting, and quality for your budget. Whether you want a kitchen for entertaining, for family living, or your own enjoyment and investment purposes, we’re here to make that dream come true. In over 12 years we’ve helped over 1,400 homeowners transform their houses – contact us today and let’s see what we can do for you.