Kitchen Lighting Tips | Light Up Your Modern Kitchen

The kitchen area requires the right kind of lighting balance. With all this time indoors, we thought it worth giving some helpful tips for your next lighting upgrade.

The kitchen can serve many purposes in the household. An appropriate lighting mix – under-cabinet LEDs, recessed downlighting, hanging pendants – will guarantee your kitchen area is a welcome space for any function.

Here are our tips for lighting your modern kitchen.


Before we get into it, it’s important to establish the difference between the different types of lighting we will be using to fill out the area. 

These types of lighting are Ambient, Task, and Accent.

If you are unfamiliar with these types, it’s worth checking out our garden blog for a better idea of what they can do in a different space altogether! 

So what are these types?

Ambient: This will be your main source of light. It can be in addition to natural light, or to compensate for less of it. Try to cast this light evenly from a single point on your ceiling. Consider chandeliers, pendant lights, recessed lighting, and flush mounts.

A great option for ambient lighting in your kitchen
Our Rope 3 Light Pendant with three Yard Industrial Shades, good for ambient lighting.

Accent: These are the final piece to the kitchen lighting puzzle. Consider toe kick lights, cabinet lights, or really any other light that might emphasise your favourite aspects of the kitchen. They also might cross over into ambient and task lighting as well.

Task: Ambient lighting helps give a general light wash over the area, but can still leave more important areas in darkness. Task lights bring attention to the important areas of the kitchen, such as a meal preparation area, cooking stations, or cabinetry. Some task lighting options would be strip lights and puck lights.

Right: The TITAN LED recessed downlight makes for a great task light.

The Island: Task or Ambient Lighting

How you light your island will depend on what purpose it serves as a space in your kitchen. As such, you’ll likely be lighting according to whether or not the island is used as a prep area, or an ambient, hang-out type area.

For task-oriented islands (food prep, recipe reading), aim for a mix of recessed downlighting and hanging lights. For ambient hang-out islands (like counter seating), some smaller pendant fixtures should do the trick. If you go down the pendant route, aim to hang these around 75-80cm apart, and 75-90cm above the island, leaving at least 15cm of space between the pendant and the edge of the island.

Another Option: Linear Suspension Lighting

These fixtures look fantastic with higher ceilings. Aim to hang one at least 1m above your countertop. A good example of this would be the Shard. 

The Shard Linear Suspension light

Cabinet Lighting: Tasks and Accents

Cabinet lighting mixes task and accent lighting to cover areas that ambient lighting has glossed over. Ambient lighting provides a good level of light throughout the kitchen, but it often leaves shadows in areas that sometimes need more attention. With under cabinet task lighting, work surfaces and cabinetry are properly illuminated so you can more easily & safely carry out kitchen tasks.

If you’re ever in doubt, one of our Andrews Light Up retail experts can lend a hand! Pop into one of our stores today to get a free consultation.

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A few options include:

Strip Lights: High functionality, and great for illuminating lower set cabinets that ambient lighting struggles to reach. LED strip lights can also be used under cabinet spaces to illuminate task areas.

Recessed lights make great mood lighting and can be used to light your countertops in the form of a scallop, spot or pool.

Left: a visualisation on how you can use down lights to create a light scallop effect. Image courtesy of Ezzatbaroudi.

The Ceiling: Ambient Lighting

Recessed downlighting is typically the go-to for ambient kitchen lighting. Splashing the light evenly throughout your kitchen with an emphasis on lighting high-use areas is the best way to utilize these fixtures. Dimmers are an excellent addition if you are worried about your downlights being too bright, and give you a great source of control in the space.

Need help upgrading your down lights to LED? Check out our DIY video here!

You can also consider flush mount lighting. Unlike recessed lights which hide in the ceiling, these lights allow you to add a more stylistic touch to your kitchen space.

Final Touches: Accent Lighting

The right placement of accent lights can really help emphasize your favorite elements. Common kitchen accent lights include:

Recessed: These fixtures are extremely versatile. They are great when you want to light up areas of interest, like open shelves and glass cabinets.

Over Cabinet: Placed between the cabinet and ceiling, these fixtures can add a bit more style to your kitchen. Similarly to under cabinet lighting, over cabinet lighting can give solid light to decor and architectural flourishes.

The right layering in your kitchen of the three light types will make for a memorable experience for your guests, but more importantly create a warm atmosphere for you and your family while you wind down. 

Need some inspiration? Check out the kitchen lighting inspiration page on our website!

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