Lighting your kitchen the right way

By 2017


Kitchens can be notoriously difficult to light. Lighting needs to be correctly positioned and angled to allow the safe use of appliances and surfaces for normal daily activities, but it also can become a feature. It’s therefore important to consider how you’re going to use the room, before you begin.

Lighting must be suitably located to facilitate the task at hand – preparing meals, handling hot pots and pans, cleaning up and often dining too. If you’re chopping vegetables, the light needs to reach the surface from three different points and should be at a 45-degree angle. This lighting should create a modelling effect and giving much better 3D vision – making spatial awareness easier.

All surfaces should be lit uniformly so there are no bright to dim areas, which make the eyes adjust and reduce awareness of hot or sharp objects. A single light in the centre of the room is not sufficient and will create shadow.

Other areas, such as a hob, should have all round light to highlight it – not just from the rear of an extractor, as this gives a shadow and the user could miss the handle of a saucepan and knock it – creating a danger zone. Cold zones should be lit with a small amount of light, making the fridge a focal point. A really good scheme would increase the amount of lighting in that area when it’s being used and lower it when it’s not.

Feature lighting in kitchens has grown in popularity. It’s possible to create central islands that can ‘float’ and light the inside of cupboards to highlight the contents (if you don’t mind having things on show). Just make sure to position it correctly so that you don’t have the light shining out of the units in people’s eyes.

A kitchen should have a general light level for cleaning – bright enough to see clearly, but also ideally controllable. The lighting should be adjustable in many different ways, to allow the users to change the brightness in different areas easily. Control could take the form of a motion sensor pad, which is very cost effective to install and can even be retrofitted into an existing system.

Lastly, colour is important. Not the light fittings, but the colour of the light itself. Different colour temperatures do different things and a lighting designer will be able to explain the most appropriate colours of light for the space.

All of these factors should be considered when lighting a kitchen, to ensure that the room has the right feeling, colour of light, brightness, ability to be dimmed and coverage. We’re independent of any manufacturer and can therefore provide impartial advice on suitable fittings – get in touch to discuss lighting your space.