What's the Best Lighting for My Kitchen?

Written by Michele Dawson
Updated June 25, 2015
light fixture hanging in kitchen
The kitchen is a multi-purpose room, so you'll likely need a variety of lighting types. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

Consider these tips for selecting kitchen lights.

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Good kitchen lighting helps you see clearly and makes tasks like cooking and cleaning easier. The kitchen’s easily the busiest room for many households, with bill paying, eating, homework, meal prep, socializing, Web surfing and work going on at the table or island.

Because it serves so many functions, you'll likely want to install different types of kitchen lighting.

A look at kitchen lighting

Specific kitchen lighting requirements include:

Bars and islands: A combo of general and task lighting is needed where a lot of multitasking occurs. A great solution is a row of individual pendants. They should be mounted so the bottom of the shades are about 66 inches from the floor. And, as a general rule, you should have one pendant for every two to three feet of counter space.

Cabinets: For a special touch, you can add halogen light bulbs inside glass-doored cabinets to showcase pieces of art, china or dinnerware.

General lighting: Usually recessed lighting or a chandelier provide adequate light for general tasks. Typically, glass shades are preferred over fabric because they're easier to keep clean in the food environment. If you choose recessed lighting, it should be about 30 inches from the wall and around the kitchen’s perimeter.

RELATED: LED Lights: Right to Light Your Kitchen Remodel?

Range and sink lighting: Consistent, effective lighting is essential for these kitchen work areas. Recessed lighting is one option, which provides even illumination without dimming, flickering or inadequate light for cooking and cleaning. Recessed lights are available in circular or square configurations and come in different metallic trims.

Table lights: The kitchen table is generally used for activities from dining to playing cards. A chandelier or pendant works perfectly over the table. It not only provides light but serves as a nice accent.

Pendant fixtures should be 30 inches above the table, according to the American Lighting Association. For round tables, the fixture should ideally be 12 inches narrower than the table's diameter. With a square or rectangular table, the association recommends a light that is a foot narrower than the smallest side.

Undercabinet lighting: When you prep meals and read recipes on the counter, you need good lighting. It also showcases your backsplash and countertop.

Try slim, energy-efficient fluorescents, low-voltage linear systems and miniature track lights. If you want background lighting, you can add dimmers to keep the lights on low and save energy.

And when you leave the kitchen, remember to turn out the lights.

Check ou the Angie's List Guide to Led Lights for more creative ways to use lighting in your kitchen.

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