Now the kitchen plan is complete, you're ready to consider your lighting needs. This is one of the most important design aspects and should be both practical and aesthetically pleasing.


1). Island lighting

Statement pendants hung above an island, can look amazing and make your kitchen really stand out!

Statement island pendants

Image courtesy of Pinterest

When installing pendant lights, ensure they are positioned so the light falls in front of the worktop, rather than behind (the latter will cast shadows over your work space).

Three pendants v two? Objects arranged in odd numbers, are more pleasing to the eye. I.e. groups of three or five, look more appealing than two or four items. With odd numbers the eye focuses on the central object, which is then evenly balanced by objects either side.

3 glass pendants over island

Image courtesy of deVOL

Pendants in silver, bronze or copper, will reflect natural light and the outside space, enhancing the sense of light in the room.

3 copper pendants over island

Image courtesy of deVOL

When opting for this style of lighting especially in the kitchen, keep the fitting simple, so it’s easy to clean (cooking grease will build up on the fitting over time).

MyCasa Tip: Ensure the size of the pendant does not block the sight lines through the kitchen and out into the garden

Not all kitchens have space for 3 pendants. In these situations 2 larger pendants, spaced further apart, can look just as good.

Images courtesy of Pinterest

2). Lighting above the range

Although, most extractor fans have built in lighting, incorporating spot lights behind the extractor, can help to effectively light the top of the range. This also ensures the 'colour' of the light remains constant in your design (read on for more information). Light shining off the splash back, provides further illumination and interest in the room.

Spot lights behind extractor fan

Spot lights behind extractor fan

Images courtesy of Tom Howley

3). Under wall cabinets

Perhaps one of the most common types of lighting, this allows dark corners to be illuminated and provides effective light when working/preparing food on worktops. To add an heir of luxury opt for 2 lights under each individual cabinet, rather then 1.

Under wall cabinet spot lights

Image courtesy of Tom Howley

Under wall cabinet spot lights

Image courtesy of Tom Howley

Alternatively, consider a LED lighting strip under the wall cabinets, which provides a continuous line of light.

4). Inside wall cabinets

Inside wall cabinet spot lights

Image courtesy of Tom Howley

5). Shelf lighting - can be lit from the back or the shelf itself and brightens up the entire wall as well as the accessories / crockery on the shelf.

Images courtesy of Pinterest

6). Recessed ceiling LED spot lights

One of the most popular types of kitchen lighting, recessed LED spot lights provide general lighting and illuminate the entire space.

Recessed ceiling LED spot lights

Image courtesy of Tom Howley

Recessed ceiling LED spot lights

Image courtesy of Tom Howley

Ensure the light is shining in front of you, when stood at the worktop, to prevent working in the shadows:

I was given great advice by an electrician - spot lights should blend into your ceiling, rather than be a feature. Choose white rather than silver rims.

7). Washed ceiling light

Hidden, low-profile linear LED fittings can be used to wash the ceiling with light. This requires planning at an early stage, so the ceiling can be constructed to house the fittings. It can be used to highlight architectural features and adds a contemporary feel to your design. It is often used with recessed ceiling spot lights.

Washed LED ceiling light

Image courtesy of ecoled light

Washed LED ceiling light

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Washed LED ceiling light

Image courtesy of Jones Associate Architects

8) Lighting a side return

a). Track lighting suspended across the top of the side return glazing

Track lighting over side return glazing

Image courtesy of Holland and Green

a). Pendant lighting suspended across the top of the side return glazing

Pendant light suspended over side return

Image courtesy of Instagram

Pendant light suspended over side return glazing

Image courtesy of Jones Associate Architects

b). Directional spot lights enable light to be angled against the side return wall, as and where needed (again opt for white light fittings so they blend in, rather becoming a feature)

Directional spot lights side return

Image courtesy of REMODELISTA

Directional spot lights side return

9) Wall lights

Wall accent lighting can highlight specific features i.e. art

Wall accent lighting

Image courtesy of Trendland

Provide mood lighting

Wall lighting kitchen

Image courtesy of Pinterest

10). Lighting over the dinning table

Image courtesy of Pinterest

What combination of lighting should I choose?

1). Understanding how to 'layer light' is the key to fabulous lighting design. The principles of layering light can be aligned to fashion.

An outfit all in one colour (i.e. a black dress), can be likened to a single ceiling pendant. Practical, if slightly boring and inflexible (you can either put the dress on or take it off/turn the light on or turn it off).

However, add a scarf, belt, shoes and bag to the black dress and it completely changes the outfit. Furthermore, adding and subtracting these items, creates different looks and mood.

This is just the same with lighting. Adding a combination of different lighting types as in the photo below (spot lights, under cabinet lights, pendant lights over the island, a LED light strip under the island counter and lights under the cooker hood), creates different options and moods (i.e. practical for food preparation, an intimate atmosphere for eating).

2). It's important to think about where you're going to need light at various times of the day i.e:

  • Food prep/cooking on the island? Choose task lighting to shine directly on your prep zone.

  • Entertaining family and friends? Choose dim-able lighting over the dining area/island. Also consider dimmer switches in the areas you don't want to highlight post eating i.e. functional lighting over the sink/hob.

In our kitchen renovation we opted for the following combination:

  • Spot lights (x9) on dimmer switch

  • Pendant lights over the island x 2 on dimmer switch

  • Strip LED lights under the wall cabinets x 2 on dimmer switch

  • Cooker hood spots (x2)

  • Wall lights shining onto side return wall (x4) on dimmer switch

Examples of lighting in a kitchen

In real life ...

Layering lighting in kitchen

Once you've decided on your lighting design ensure it's clearly written out and marked up on your kitchen plans, to promote effective communication with your builder and electrician.


In an open-plan kitchen, it’s a good idea to put your lights on separate circuits, so you can control them independently. This provides the flexibility to create different moods. We found a dimmer switch was a must!

MyCasa Tip: If you're renovating a period property electricians often recommend you select light switches with screws, as walls are often uneven.

We opted for the Hamilton sheer flatplate sockets in satin stainless


I had no idea the colour of 'white' light can vary so much and there is no such thing as 'standard white light', before starting our renovation.

Consider using warm white light, rather than cool white light (which can look very blue and feels quite cold). Remember, the colour of warm white light can vary according to the manufacturer. As such it can be helpful to opt for one supplier for all your lights i.e. Astro.

MyCasa Tip: Finalise your lighting design plan before the building work starts. Once the room has been stripped out, the electrician will run the cables (first fix). Late changes can escalate the costs and make your budget harder to manage.

Look out for the next installation of my blog STEP 4: Electrics

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