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Kitchen Lighting: The Ultimate Guide

The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in the house, so there’s no excuse for it to be one of the most poorly lit. Often I’ll come across a kitchen with a single ceiling light, and I can just feel Edison turning in his grave. Not only is a poorly lit kitchen less-than-pretty, it’s not functional, and can actually be dangerous!

Never fear – here’s a list of 4 essential types of kitchen lights, so you can finally bring your kitchen out of the dark ages.

Ambient Lighting

We’re talking recessed cans, cove lighting, over cabinet lighting, or yes, even those ubiquitous ceiling lights. This first layer of light provides general illumination throughout the room, so you can see the layout and navigate easily through the space. Ambient light dictates a room’s atmosphere (I recommend a warm light source to make your food look good – no one wants their meat looking slightly blue!) but it’s really just the baseline of good kitchen lighting.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Adequate task lighting to illuminate your countertops is not only attractive, but it’s also important for safety and cleanliness. Opting for either puck or linear under cabinet fixtures will light up your workspace so you can avoid injuries while chopping, slicing and dicing, or while doing dishes in the sink. Having a brightly lit countertop also lets you spot dirt easily, so you can be confident you’re cooking food in a sanitary area.

Pendant Lighting

Pendant lights can add to the ambiance in the kitchen, as well as provide helpful task light – especially over open bars and islands. They help keep the area safe and clean (like under cabinet lights). What’s unique to pendant lights is that they function as lovely focal points for a room – available in many different stylish options, there’s definitely a pendant light out there to fit any taste!

Accent Lighting

Yes, kitchens are one of the more functional rooms in the house, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be pretty. Maybe it’s not knife-to-finger urgent to highlight a favorite painting or textured wall, but your prized possessions and hard work might deserve a little showing off. Opt for track lighting or angled recessed lights to highlight wall treatments. Puck lights and display lights work great for showcasing singular paintings or objects.

A few more tips for kitchen lighting

Close up of cabinets with the over the cabinets lighting.

Color Temperature

Always be sure your lights are of the same or very similar color temperatures. Nothing ruins that lovely layered light affect than a cool bluish light clashing with a warm daylight glow.

Beware of Heat

Some types of light bulbs (incandescent and halogen) generate quite a bit of heat. This can be a problem, especially for under cabinet lights because they’re so close to food. As not to bake your fruit basket, we recommend LED, fluorescent, or even xenon under cabinet lights.

Try a Dimmer

Using a dimmer in your kitchen lets you adjust the amount of light at any moment, to fit any situation. You can have your lights at full brightness while preparing food, and then dim them to set the ambiance for a relaxing meal. Dimmers lengthen the life of most light bulbs (like xenon, halogen, and incandescent), and you can use them to control your under cabinet, pendant, and accent lights, as well as ambient lighting. Right now, dimmable LED and fluorescent bulbs are harder to come by, but they are available from select retailers.

Annie Josey is the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting, an enthusiastic, nationally recognized lighting retailer. Annie’s goal is to help make anyone and everyone’s kitchen dreams come true.  

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