Designer kitchen lighting - 8 practical tips

Designer lighting in a kitchen can be both practical and beautiful. Here are eight useful tips to help you get it right...

1. Consider lighting at the planning stage

When redesigning your kitchen, make sure that lighting is part of the plan from the very start. So if you want beautiful designer pendants or wall lights in your kitchen as well as more functional LED lights built into recesses and cabinets, you can get the balance right from the outset. Lighting design can even affect your decisions on units. For example, if you have a strong directed light over a workstation you might want to choose a non-reflective material for the work surface to avoid glare.

Top fashion writer Lucy Williams in her very stylish kitchen, complete with Pooky's Thea pendant lights. Image credit.

2. Think about all the different roles your kitchen plays when planning your lighting

In many homes a kitchen isn’t just a place for cooking. It’s also a dining room, a family room, a place for entertaining, even an office. So give yourself plenty of options for different atmospheres and activities – e.g. practical task lighting for cooking and working; softer mood lighting for dinner parties. That means having multiple light sources rather than relying on a single main overhead light (see our guide to layering light here).

In their Style Room entitled 'The kitchen table' at the 2017 House & Garden Festival, 2LG Studio addressed the multifunctional nature of kitchen tables for dining, play and work. See more here

3. Watch out for shadows - make sure you have enough ambient light for kitchen tasks

It’s tempting to think that a pendant light over a work surface solves the issue of task lighting. But don’t forget that if you’re chopping veg or frying bacon directly below a single low-hanging pendant you’ll block the light and be working in your own shadow. So make sure the room has sufficient general ambient light for tasks.

4. Be as bold as you like with designer fixtures

If your general ambient and task lighting are taken care of with built-in cabinet LEDs and recess lights, then what’s stopping you from going for beautiful designer ceiling lights and wall light fittings? It’s your chance to stamp your style and personality on the kitchen, and to carry design themes through from the rest of the home.

Lucy Williams' Thea pendants are in perfect trio over a long kitchen table. Image credit.

5. Hang pendants in threes

Pendants are perfect over kitchen islands and tables. Follow the age-old designer’s ‘rule of three’ and hang small pendants in trios: in a row over long tables, bars or islands, or in clusters over square or round surfaces.

A cluster of Pooky's Cookie pendants

6. A single round pendant looks great over a round table

Something large and spherical in brass or glass looks fabulous over a round dining table.

Bulbus glass pendant - great over a round table

7. Go glam with a centrepiece

Got a boring light tube in the centre of your kitchen ceiling? Why not replace it with a talking point, like a spectacular chandelier? They can be surprisingly affordable…

Starsky chandelier - shop here

8. Use lights as accessories in a design style

If you want to achieve a particular design style then lights and lampshades are among the most useful weapons in your armoury. Perhaps a fabric shade on a wall light for a more cosy or shabby chic feel, or an ironwork pendant for a more industrial look. And talking of industrial kitchens, for more tips and ideas, check out our post The industrial style kitchen – tips for lighting and décor.

18cm straight empire pendant shade in green block printed cotton with swan neck wall light fitting in antiqued brass - shop here

See also our guide to designer bathroom lighting, and find more inspiration from professional designers on our blog. And browse our range of designer pendant lights here and designer wall lights here.