Kitchen Lighting – Ambient, Task, and Accent

By | May 17, 2013

While good lighting can enhance any room, it’s particularly helpful in the kitchen. Poor lighting can make it difficult to navigate or work in your kitchen. It can also be dangerous, especially if you’re using sharp utensils, handling portable appliances, or working near flames or hot surfaces. If you’re eating or entertaining in your kitchen, the right lighting can enhance the mood and make the experience even more enjoyable.

There are three main types of lighting to consider: ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Combining these three types will give your kitchen the optimum illumination.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is also known as general lighting. It provides overall illumination to the room. Some ambient light can be gained naturally from the sunlight that shines through your windows, but overhead light is also important.

Flush and semi-flush mount lights are popular choices for overhead light. Flush mount lights are mounted to the ceiling, while semi-flush mount lights feature a small gap between the light and the ceiling. Recessed lights are also an option. These lights, also known as “can” lights, are located within openings in the ceiling. Track lighting is another way to go. In track lighting, light fixtures are placed along a track that’s mounted to the ceiling. These lights can be moved and adjusted.

Task lighting

Task lighting is more focused than ambient lighting. It provides direct illumination to areas where you’ll be working. In a kitchen, these areas include countertops, islands, and sinks.

Under-cabinet lights provide light to the countertop area. Puck lights, which are small round or oval light fixtures, are common under-cabinet lights. Recessed lights can also be used under cabinets.

Islands and tables also benefit from task lighting. One way to light these areas is with pendant lights. Pendant lights are ornamental fixtures that hang from the ceiling. They are typically suspended from the ceiling by chains, cords or other similar objects. They come in a large variety of shapes, designs, and colors, so they can add a decorative touch to your kitchen.

There are other kitchen areas where light can be directed as well. The sink can be illuminated by recessed lights, for example, and the range can be illuminated by a range hood.

Kitchen Lighting - Task Lighting - Stainless Steel Kitchen - Futuro Futuro Streamline Island Range Hood

Kitchen Lighting – Task Lighting – Stainless Steel Kitchen – Futuro Futuro Streamline Island Range Hood

Accent lighting

Accent lighting highlights specific items in your kitchen, such as artwork, plate collections, and plants. You can achieve this with track lighting by focusing the light fixtures on the items you’d like to spotlight. Accent lighting is also a great way to showcase a special backsplash. The following example is a close-up of a kitchen project by, in which the polished stainless-steel tiles are glowing with the light of the undercabinet LED strip. The twin cylindrical “Jupiter” range hoods by Futuro Futuro illuminate the cooktop with 6 bright halogen lights. For a complete breakdown of this remodel, visit the post “Kitchen Design Case Study: Contemporary Kitchen with Zebra Wood Cabinetry“.

Kitchen Lighting - Accent Lighting - SV Kitchen by BeautifulRemodel

Kitchen Lighting – Accent Lighting – SV Kitchen by BeautifulRemodel

Some lighting arrangements can perform a mix of functions. Undercabinet light strips are a great way to accent the backsplash and countertop, but also dispel shadows under the cabinets, letting the chef use the entire counter space for storage, preparation, and cool-down. In the following photo, an LED lightstrip shows off the dramatic texture of the wallpaper, while illuminating the countertop and sink area. The Murano Collection “Snow” range hood by Futuro Futuro adds focused lighting for the cooktop, as well as casting a soft glow on the upper backsplash.

Kitchen Lighting - Task Lighting - Contemporary Kitchen - Futuro Futuro Murano Snow Range Hood

Kitchen Lighting – Task Lighting – Contemporary Kitchen – Futuro Futuro Murano Snow Range Hood

Your kitchen lighting can be further enhanced with a dimmer switch. When you’re cooking, you may want bright light that lets you clearly see what you’re doing. On the other hand, when you’re entertaining guests or relaxing in the kitchen, you may want softer light. With a dimmer switch, you’ll always have just the right amount of light in your kitchen.

Light plays a big role in how your kitchen looks and feels. With the right lighting, your kitchen will be safe, fun, and easy to use.

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