November 26, 2021 4 min read

- Power Practical Brand Team 

Proper kitchen lighting is essential in creating a well-balanced kitchen. While a single light source may provide illumination for this multifunctional room, various activities happen in the kitchen, and each of them may need some distinct form of lighting. That is why, if you are planning to remodel your kitchen, you need to understand the different types of kitchen lighting and the purpose each of them serves.

As a general rule of thumb, creating proper lighting requires you to use different layers of lighting fixtures all working together to create functionality without leaving your space dull. If you are looking for kitchen remodeling inspiration or if you need help choosing the best type of lighting for the kitchen, read on to discover how you can get started.

What Are The Main Types of Kitchen Lighting Fixtures?

There are three basic methods of illuminating your kitchen:

  • Ambient/General kitchen
  • Kitchen Task lighting
  • Kitchen Accent lighting

Ambient Lighting

Ambient light provides overall illumination to your kitchen. Also known as general light, ambient lighting sources serve to make the room functional by creating uniform lighting throughout the kitchen. Ambient lighting provides base level illumination by making the room well-lit such that you can see the whole room clearly whenever you walk into your kitchen.

During the day, ambient lighting can be achieved by sunlight, especially if your kitchen has huge windows whose blinds can be drawn to allow light inside. At night, ambient light can be achieved with the help of various fixtures including LED kitchen ceiling lights, recessed lighting, chandeliers, pendants, and track lighting.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is one of the most overlooked types of kitchen lighting, yet it serves a critical purpose: making your kitchen safe. This type of light is smaller and more concentrated, allowing you to illuminate targeted areas so you can see what you are doing clearly.

Think of your kitchen as a workplace where you need proper lighting to work so you don't cut off a finger, stub your toes, or knock over items in a dimly lit corner. For your own safety and functionality, you want task lighting when you are cutting and dicing, reading a recipe, or cleaning up. You can install portable or desk lamps at the counter and at dim corners, and illuminate under the cabinets using under-cabinet lighting fixtures.

Accent Lighting

While ambient and task lighting provide functionality, that's not all your kitchen is about. Kitchen accent lighting is the fun part of layering your kitchen with lighting as it adds a decorative element to your space. This type of lighting is more concentrated and draws the eye towards its focal point, allowing you to accessorize your kitchen.

You can use accent lighting to draw attention towards certain items such as artwork, plants, sculptures, and other important architectural features. Some of the most common types of accent kitchen lighting ideas include under-cabinet lighting, picture lights, and track lights.

LED kitchen lights used for kitchen cabinets


How To Choose Kitchen Lighting

You spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, enjoying meals, cleaning, kids homework, and even entertaining guests every once in a while. Even with all these activities taking place, most people often overlook how important lighting is when setting the mood for any activity and allowing functionality.

The amount and type of light you need when you wake up and are preparing your first cup of coffee is different from the kind you will need when cleaning up, preparing meals later in the day, and relaxing later in the evening. To achieve perfect harmony, the trick lies in layering your lighting to achieve a perfect blend of ambient, task, and accent kitchen lighting. If you are remodeling your kitchen, here are simple pointers you can use to achieve perfect lighting:

Start by Installing an Ambient Lighting Fixture

You want your kitchen well-lit. Since you cannot completely rely on sunlight to light up your space, add a lighting fixture to complement the natural source of light. Pendants and recessed lights are a good start. If you are working with a small kitchen, consider flush mounted ceiling lights since they are hung flush with the ceiling to avoid cluttering your space.

Light Up Your Work Spaces

For safety purposes, add task lighting fixtures to illuminate your space and create functionality. Use pendants to illuminate your kitchen island, spotlights to provide above the sink illumination, a chandelier to illuminate the dining table, and LED kitchen lighting strips to provide countertop lighting. Of course, you can use other lighting fixtures as long as they provide adequate illumination over these four important spaces.

Illuminate Your Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets take up most of your kitchen space, and unfortunately, you cannot rely on ambient lighting to provide enough lighting inside them. A lighting strip can provide enough light inside the cabinets and illuminate the drawers. Adding a lighting strip underneath base cabinets will also act as a night light so you won't need to flip the overhead switch every time you walk into the kitchen for a quick midnight snack.

Don't Forget to Add Mood Lighting

You want to add softer lighting to create a relaxed atmosphere perfect for dining and entertaining guests. Mood lighting also serves to accentuate your kitchen. Think of dimmer switches and other accent lights which provide soft lighting and guide the eyes towards decorative pieces.


LED Kitchen lighting in a well-lit kitchen.

Kitchen Lighting Ideas for a Stylish Kitchen

Understanding the basics of kitchen lighting is one step in your kitchen remodeling journey. If you want your kitchen to remain colorful, imaginative, and stylish, consider these kitchen lighting ideas:

  • Use a steel beam to hang pendants at random heights for functionality and decoration
  • Use lantern lighting for your kitchen island
  • Use surface mount lighting for your small kitchen
  • Go for sculptural lights and other soft curves instead of angular fixtures
  • Consider colorful pendants to add some color to your kitchen

Final Thoughts

Understanding what is the best type of lighting for a kitchen is the first step towards ensuring that your kitchen is properly lit. To create a well-lit kitchen which provides a safe and functional space while also remaining stylish, be sure to carefully balance between ambient, task, and accent lights.