Cool Or Warm? Here Are The Best Kitchen Lighting Ideas

From the trends everyone will be following this year to what NOT to do.. our experts have all the answers.

kitchen lighting ideas

by Alice Hall |
Updated on

Any interior designer will tell you that the right lighting has the power to totally transform a space. And, since kitchens often double up as multi-purpose spaces - whether that's as dining rooms, lounges or work from home offices - it's worth investing in lighting that is both practical and inviting. Whether your goal is to create a cosy ambience to combat the dark UK winters or adding some twinkly illumination to an open-plan interior, lighting makes all the difference.

'The kitchen stands as the vibrant epicentre of the home—a place where culinary creativity, communal gatherings and cherished moments intertwine. As the sun sets and the evening unfolds, the right lighting transforms this space into a sanctuary of warmth and ambiance, catering to the multifaceted needs of modern living,' says Bruce Weil, Design Director at Lighting Design Studio.

As with all rooms in the house, there are three categories of lighting to consider when decorating your kitchen - ambient, task and accent. Ambient lighting is the primary light source in the room, often provided through ceiling fixtures. Task lighting is used, as the name suggests, for tasks - so when it comes to the kitchen, that's things like cooking and chopping. Accent lighting draws attention to certain features, such as artwork or architectural details. A lighting plan for your kitchen should encompass all three of these elements, to create a harmonious atmosphere.

Helen Ashmore, Head of Design at Laura Ashley, explains that kitchen lighting should have a 'layered yet functional' feeling. 'Consider ceiling spotlights, wall lights and ceiling pendants to create that layered lighting feel within your kitchen space - making it work when you need it to,' she says.

Here's everything you need to know about kitchen lighting...

With so many kitchen lighting options on the market, it can be hard to know where to begin. From pendant lights to chandeliers, flush lights to bronze fixtures, there are countless options to suit every aesthetic and budget. But what are the new kitchen lighting trends for 2024?

Weil explains that architectural lighting will become 'sleek' this year, with downlighters becoming smaller but still boasting impressive lumen outputs. 'These discreet luminaires effortlessly meld into the ceiling, casting a gentle glow that accentuates without overpowering, offering a seamless blend of form and function,' he says.

Weil also believes 2024 will be a year when sustainability and minimalism will become big lighting trends. In practice, he says, this will translate into making 'a conscious effort to utilise fewer fixtures with a reduced carbon footprint, without compromising on light output, style or efficacy.'

For those who want a contemporary look, Weil recommends lighting company Michael Anastassiades, which 'presents a collection of timeless fixtures, marrying simplicity with sophistication.' He adds 'from sleek pendants to understated suspensions, these luminaires seamlessly integrate into any modern kitchen, adding a touch of understated elegance.'

18 of the best kitchen lighting ideas

From placement to colour and creating the perfect ambience, we've asked the best experts in the business to share their top kitchen lighting tips with Grazia, so you can illuminate your kitchen in the most stylish way possible.

1. Placement is everything

Kitchen lighting
A general interior view of a high quality grey kitchen with kitchen island ©Getty

Downlighters are a popular kitchen lighting trend that can enhance your space and they also function as task light. Although they can be used anywhere in the room, they are especially useful for when you want to illuminate particular areas, such as kitchen worktops. They also help to display the finishes and character of your kitchen cabinets.

When it comes to positioning, Weil explains that downlights should never be placed in a grid. 'Opt for strategic placement to create an engaging lighting scheme that celebrates shadows and provides light in key areas such as over work surfaces and table tops,' he says.

2. Light for every mood

kitchen lighting ideas
Modern Kitchen Interior With White Cabinets, Wood Kitchen Island, Pendant Lights And Parquet Floor ©Getty

Kitchens have so many functions and it's important to have lighting to match them - whether that's helping the kids do their homework or having a romantic candle-lit dinner. 'Harness the power of lighting controls to curate different moods within your kitchen. Separate lighting circuits for various areas ensures versatility and ambiance at your fingertips,' says Weil.

3. Cool or warm? Keep it consistent

kitchen lighting ideas
Empty dining table with flower vase in domestic kitchen ©Getty

Weil explains that we should maintain consistency in colour temperature across all lighting elements 'for a cohesive aesthetic that soothes the senses.' The main difference to consider when it comes to kitchen light is whether you want cool or warm light - the former is best suited to task lighting but it can come across as harsh, while the latter is perfect for creating a cosy ambience. The best option is to aim for a balance of both, so your space feels harmonious and inviting.

4. The power of pendant lighting

kitchen lighting ideas
Expansive view of granite countertops, kitchen island, pendant lights, black accented cabinets and appliances, and access to outdoor patio. ©Getty

Oversized pendant lighting is having a moment in interiors, and it's easy to see why. They are smaller than chandeliers, but still douse your kitchen island in beautiful light, and they can also be used in clusters for a layered lighting effect. Weil explains that pendant lights cast 'a captivating glow over breakfast bars and islands while delineating distinct zones within your kitchen.'

Tara Gilson, social media manager at Uber Interiors, explains they are seeing lots of interest in colourful and impactful pendant lighting. 'While recessed ceiling lights are as popular as they always have been due to their hidden setting and ambient lighting, pendants are being embraced by designers who want to make more of a statement in the room. A big colourful pendant light is a great option when there isn't space for a feature wall,' she says.

5. Add under-unit lighting

kitchen lighting ideas
A general interior view of a small truffle taupe coloured shaker style fitted kitchen within a home ©Getty

Adding under-unit lighting is one of the easiest ways to transform the ambience of your kitchen. Will Franklin, founder of Kitchen Makeovers, explains this inexpensive addition brings 'warmth and depth' to the room, to make it feel both inviting and functional. 'Whether you opt for LED strips or puck lights, installing under-cabinet lighting is a relatively simple DIY project that yields significant results – and both options can be picked up rather inexpensively online or in any DIY store.' he says. 'As well as improving visibility while cooking or prepping meals, adding under-unit lighting adds a touch of elegance to your kitchen's aesthetic.'

6. Focus on ambient lighting

kitchen lighting ideas
Three green pendant lights above unit with Silestone work surface in kitchen with raised bar and stools ©Getty

If you're going for a modern aesthetic in your kitchen, then lighting is key. Jen Nash, Head of Design at Magnet, explains that ambient lighting - which creates the general light in a space - can 'transform the look and feel of your kitchen' by 'providing general illumination throughout the space' and ensuring there are no dark corners. 'This even distribution of light is especially effective in helping smaller kitchens feel more spacious,' she adds.

7. Try in-shelf lighting

kitchen lighting ideas
Modern apartment kitchen interior. Large marble kitchen countertop, bar stools, concrete floor and glass door in the background. Copy space template. Render. ©Getty

As with under-unit lighting, in-shelf lighting is a great way to illuminate your shelves and create a modern aesthetic in your kitchen. 'In shelf lighting is also great if you are looking to showcase your favourite cocktail glasses or champagne flutes. It adds visual interest and a modern feel to the space, drawing attention to specific items and enhancing the overall aesthetics of the kitchen,' says Nash.

8. Experiment with door lights

kitchen lighting ideas
Modern kitchen interior design in white finishing ©Getty

You can also try door-mounted LED lights to add some illumination to darker areas in your kitchen.  Jamie Robinson, installation mananger at Value Doors, explains that these lights can be installed on cabinet doors to provide both 'functional illumination' and add a 'stylish touch' to the kitchen's design. 'Another lighting trend growing in popularity involves motion sensor lights within cabinet doors. These lights offer convenience and efficiency, automatically lighting up a cabinet’s interior when opened,' he says.

9. Go metallic

kitchen lighting ideas
Black / gray modern kitchen interior with island, sink, cabinets, kitchen appliances and marble floor in a new luxury home. ©Getty

Metallic features are a popular feature of modern kitchens, and can instantly elevate any space. Glen Peskett, DIY expert and owner of Saxton Blades, explains that 'gold and brass' can infuse your kitchen with a sense of luxury and sophistication. From pendants to floor lamps, he recommends looking for lighting in these hues to instantly add 'warmth and character' to your kitchen.

10. Mix it up

kitchen lighting ideas
Picture of modern black and white kitchen. Render image. ©Getty

They say that variety is the spice of life and when it comes to kitchen lighting, that certainly rings true. As Simone Wilson, Colour and Trend Expert at Voyage Maison, acknowledges, there's nothing worse than having to rely on 'harsh spotlights' for every occasion.

'My simple formula is functional - overheads that do the job when you need to see what you’re doing, statement - a standout central lighting element, perhaps over a dining table of kitchen island, that also acts as a focal point in the room, and ambience - at least two, if not more, side lights or lamps that can be used when you want the correct mood,' she says.

11. Use your counters

kitchen lighting ideas
Modern apartment kitchen interior. White cabinet, oven, sink, white walls. Copy space template. Render. ©Getty

Don't think that table lamps are just reserved for bedrooms and sitting rooms. With the rise of trends such as cottagecore and farmhouse kitchen, lamps are an easy way to bring a cosy ambience to your kitchen - and something Wilson believes is a 'must-have' for any space. 'Ticking off the box for both style and functionality, a table lamp used on a counter can accessorise a space just as well as any plant or vase, whilst also working to create that all important ambience when the big light needs to stay firmly off,' she says.

12. Make a colour statement

kitchen lighting ideas
A women setting a colorful table in a bright Midcentury Modern dining room,with orange accessories ©Getty

Wilson explains that, in 2024, we're seeing lots of 'dark, moody' kitchen spaces, with popular colours being burgundy, browns and deep greens. One of the best ways to break this up and add a pop of colour is through bold lampshades, she says, which add a 'focal point' to your kitchen. 'I recommend lighting in a space like this as being a great way to dip your toe into the waters of adding a bolder pop of colour into your space. Take inspiration from the latest trend sweeping interiors, "the unexpected red theory", where by adding that statement pop of colour you can completely change the warmth, style and look of your space,' she adds.

13. Choose materials wisely

kitchen lighting ideas
Interior of Scandinavian style dining room. ©Getty

When finessing your interiors, it's all in the detail so don't overlook the importance of material when elevating your space. 'When it comes to floor or table lamps, choosing solid woods or artisanal ceramics for the base not only creates visual interest but also mean a practical and hard-wearing product,' says Wilson. 'Similarly, materials you choose for a shade are important; this season the fabric shade trend shows no sign of slowing, so choose simple shades in luxe linen or bolder prints for an elevated feel.'

15. Add a skylight

kitchen lighting ideas
A general view of a modern fitted grey kitchen with large island, breakfast bar, white walls and sky light windows within a home ©Getty

Skylights are a great way of adding natural light into your kitchen, while also creating visual interest and ventilation. Weil says that integrating lighting via skylights is a great way to infuse your kitchen with 'celestial allure.'

16. Mix and match

kitchen lighting ideas
Picture of a modern kitchen. Render image. ©Getty

We know that eclectic interiors are having a moment, and lighting is a great way to create this aesthetic. Wilson recommends going for 'clashing patterns in similar colour palettes' within an individual lamp to create the ultimate statement. She adds that you can continue these print choices throughout the other lighting elements in your kitchen for a 'cohesive but creative' aesthetic. 'Some brands, such as Voyage Maison, even offer you the ability to not only mix and match your own fabrics within lighting but to also have blinds and other soft furnishings created to match,' she says.

17. Treat lighting as art

kitchen lighting ideas
+++NOTE TO INSPECTOR: Photo artwork on the counter is taken by me, see property release.+++ A contemporary kitchen with open concept design and bar counter in a modern home. ©Getty

As Wilson acknowledges, lighting in the kitchen can be the 'ultimate multifunctional accessory' and double up as artwork. 'Whether its ornate hanging pendant lamps or handmade ceramic bases, sculptural lighting is the perfect way to make your space seem luxurious and well thought out,' she says. 'Choose neutral lampshades with more texted and sculptural bases or go full on maximalist with clashing printed shades alongside bright bases for a bold look that’s bound to stand out.'

18. Old meets new

Kitchen galley with dark hardwood floors and blue rug to match island cabinets ©Getty

Why not inject some character into your modern kitchen. Wilson explains that 'antique-style' and 'brass finished' lighting creates the 'perfect blend of old and new', while a 'vintage palette of colours and textures' is the perfect way to cosy up your space. If your kitchen is full of character already, she recommends adding a bold sculptural piece to elevate your space.

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