Kitchen Lighting

Must have lighting tips for Kitchen / Dining

Without a doubt the kitchen is the central hub of our homes.  When I grew up there was one fluorescent light fitting smack in the centre of the ceiling to light the entire kitchen.  I guess it served its purpose, except at 2am when it would burn a hole in my retinas when getting up for that middle of the night drink of water. 

We now live in a world where your last smartphone, the one you couldn’t wait to get cast aside to upgrade to the infinitely better new model, was powerful enough to run an Apollo mission.  So I’m sorry to say, but a single bright fluoro in the centre of the ceiling just doesn’t cut it any more.  We can easily light the room far better for functionality, immensely better for aesthetics, and monumentally better for your ‘middle of the night’ retinas.



To properly light our kitchen and dining area, we need to use all 3 lighting types (Accent, Ambient, and Task: More on these after), and layer them to cater for the different ways we use the room(s).


Meal preparation

The most obvious function of the kitchen requires at least 2 of the 3 types of lighting, Task and Ambient.  We want ambient lighting, such as downlights or panels, to light the general area evenly.  We then want task lighting to illuminate the specific work areas; a downlight over the sink, some pendants over the island and dining table, and some LED strips under cabinets to light the benches for example.  Let the culinary upheaval begin!



Once we have prepared the meal we usually want to eat it.  Switch lighting scenes so that Kitchen is in ‘Accent’ mode, under island and cabinet highlighting LED strips on with pendants dimmed right down to 20%, and some warm pendants over the dining room table on.  By adding dimmers and/or lighting control, we can vary this scenario to allow for the large and loud extended family feast, or the intimate and romantic dinner for two.  Bon appetit.



When entertaining the Kitchen becomes the zone for probing friends on the latest happenings, sharing recipes, debating Aristotle, and preparing special beverages.  Here we’ll generally have everything on, all task, ambient, and accent lights.  However, once we migrate to the Living room or Patio, we can switch the Kitchen to full Accent mode.  TGIF!


Homework and debriefs

When evening comes and lights begin to come on, the first things to happen in the kitchen are commonly the daily family debriefs, and dreaded homework.  To cater for this, we would usually use some ambient lighting, maybe 50%, and full task lighting to illuminate the kitchen island and/or dining table.  How was your day stinky face?


Coffee conversation

You’re finally sitting in front of that friend and you’re busting to tell them all the news you’ve been saving up and haven’t posted on Facebook.  Accent lighting to highlight the best features of your Kitchen and Dining, and muted task lighting over the dining table or breakfast bench where you’re talking.  “You’ll never guess what happened last week…”



The kitchen is often visible from most other public areas of your home and nothing looks nicer than some elegant accent lighting while you are in an adjoining room.  Highlight the base of the Kitchen Island with an LED strip, light any niches, and dim down some LED strips over the benches.  Spectacular.

Kitchen Lighting 


Ambient Lighting – This is normal lighting that we all understand and have
used all our lives.  Typically, in a Kitchen it will be Downlights and panels designed to light up all the corners of the room.  These lights should be dimmable and natural white in colour temperature, around 4500K.

Accent Lighting – This is how we show off the room; LED Strip highlighting
the base of the Kitchen Island, Lights in overhead cabinets with glass doors, niche lighting on shelving and cut-outs.  Generally, the accent lighting can be on 1 or a few circuits, must be dimmable, and can be a mixture of cool white (6000K) and warm white (3000K) depending on what is being highlighted.

Task Lighting – Task lighting is localised to the area you need it.  So in the
Kitchen it generally means under-bench LED strips and pendants over the island.  Dimming is not essential but could add to the ambience of the room, and colour temperature would normally be cool (6000K) to natural (4500K).


To win at  your kitchen lighting, you need to get lighting control like C-Bus, Dynalite, or Control4.  It will add, to all of the above, the ability to create scenes.  A scene is like a memory or snapshot of a set configuration of lights.  So you can set the lights according to the ‘Dining’ mode above, then save it to a button.  So instead of setting 5 or 6 different lights on/off or dimmed every time you want to change function, you simply press a button to recall a scene.  More on lighting control here.


In Summary:

  • Use 3 types of lighting – Ambient, Task, and Accent
  • Dimmers with dimmable lights are a must
  • Layer the types of lights for different room functions
  • Invest in lighting control


Kitchen Lighting

Types of Lights:

Dimmable Downlights Task Lighting  
Downlights Soffit  
Dimmable Pendant LED Lights  
Track Pendant  




Your kitchen is the central hub of your home, make it captivating!





Kitchen Lighting


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