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Oct 22, 2020

In this Kitchen Design Essentials episode Frances runs through the critical element of lighting in your kitchen. She discusses the need for task, ambient and decorative lighting for different scenarios, particularly for kitchens in an open plan space. She also discusses the many different alternatives available to using downlights, and why it’s important to use a combination of light sources.


Lighting affects your mood and your ability to work in a space. It is a key component to the overall functionality of your kitchen.

Task Lighting

Provides specific and increased light to accomplish specific task (E.g reading, working, or cooking). Task lighting is critical in the kitchen, as it is in a bathroom. Proper task lighting enables work surfaces to be illuminated such as island benches, under overhead cupboards, and corners.

  • A good artificial light is required regardless of what natural light is available
  • Natural Lighting – Nothing beats good natural light How much natural light you have depends on orientation of the kitchen and the kitchen location in the home.
  • Skylights- Can be openable which allows hot air to be released. Ambient/Mood Lighting

Kitchens are often placed in an open plan area where it’s open to lounge and dining. To avoid only having task lighting, ambient lighting is needed to create mood and atmosphere in the whole open plan space, including your kitchen.

  • Dimmers- an important way to create ambient lighting
  • Downlights- Choose a downlight that is good quality
    • LED
    • Has broad beam which reach more space

Decorative Lighting

  • Decorative lighting plays a big part of interior design Pendant lights- serves as a decorative element but can also be used as an ambient light.
  • If selected well, and is over an Island bench it will function as task lighting, ambient and decorative lighting.
  • Allows for soft lighting to be used in the overall open plan
  • If you want your pendant lights to provide task lighting over the bench, need to consider the light illuminated from the fitting.
  • Need a number of pendants to match the size of the bench. Scale is important.
  • Pendant lights allow you to add your personality into the kitchen but make sure that it coordinated back to the cabinetry material.

Have a combination of task lighting, ambient/mood lighting, and decorative lighting so you have the ability to dial your lighting up or down as required.

Alternatives to downlights

Directional spots

  • Sit in the ceiling just like a downlight
  • Can move around so you can get light exactly where you need it.

Track Lighting

  • Can be mounted on the ceiling and offers multiple lights from one track
  • You can point them where you need them to be.

LED Strip Lighting – multiple types

  • Strip under the front of the island bench for ambient/decorative effect.
  • Under the overhead cabinetry to illuminate bench under the overhead cupboards.
  • On the top of the overhead cabinetry pointing up to the ceiling to reflect light off the ceiling.


  • Provides excellent task lighting, good ambient lighting and is also  
  • Available in different styles
  • Ideal for homes with high ceilings

Wall Washes

  • Installed in the ceiling like a downlight
  • Points to the wall and bounces light off the wall.
  • Beautiful for highlighting artwork.

Cove lighting

  • Sits above the overhead cabinetry.
  • It creates a strip of light that pushes lights down into space. It can be built into the bulkhead.

Under cabinetry lighting

  • Instead of strip LED, you may want to consider smaller lights (i.e circular or square) that sits in the overhead cabinetry.

Light from your rangehood

  • A good light source
  • Illuminate your stovetop

It is worth investing in getting your lighting design for your kitchen (or your whole house). Engage either a lighting designer or an interior designer that is able to do a lighting plan for you. It is only when you live with poor lighting, that you understand the value of having really good light and the impact on how it makes you work and feel in space


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