The Best Type Of Lighting To Use In Your Kitchen

Does your kitchen seem dim? A lack of proper lighting can make it feel gloomy and uninviting. Dark spaces aren't as fun to gather in as bright, illuminated rooms, and the constant shadows can make it difficult to see what you're chopping, measuring, and cooking. If you know your kitchen has a lighting problem, your next step is to research the best options to brighten it up. However, the answer isn't as simple as adding a new pendant. As it turns out, it's more layered than that — literally. "When it comes to the best type of lighting for kitchens, there isn't just one size fits all solution. You want to think about layered lighting," Eric Bramlett, a realtor and owner of Bramlett Residential Real Estate, a mid-sized real estate brokerage in Austin, Texas, told House Digest in an exclusive interview.

That means incorporating different types of lighting solutions across the entire kitchen to create bright spotlights over where you need to work and mood lighting in pockets where you prefer to gather or relax. After all, you use your kitchen in various ways. While you want your island well-lit, you don't necessarily want a spotlight over where you eat — the lighting should be soft and welcoming, allowing you to relax and enjoy conversation. We take a closer look into what that entails below. 

Layer your lighting by utilizing several options at once

When planning your kitchen's lighting layout, you want to incorporate several tiers of options. The first is task lighting. "Task lighting over the counters and sink is important so you can see what you're doing while cooking," Eric Bramlett exclusively told House Digest. These should be bright lights that create little to no shadows for peak visibility, including those over the stovetop and island, as well as strip lighting under cabinets. For the former, use recessed lights. "Recessed lighting is a versatile option that works well in almost any kitchen design. It can be strategically placed to highlight specific areas," Bramlett shared.

However, you can't just have task lighting in the space. "You also want overall ambient light from the ceiling or pendants to make the space feel bright and welcoming," Bramlett explained. This is your main overhead lighting. Think of it as light that spreads out as a net, whereas task lighting shoots down like a focused beam. However, if you want to add a touch of coziness to the space, you can add extra ambient illumination that doesn't rely on an overhead pendant. "You might be surprised, but things like floor lamps and table lamps work great too for extra accent lighting in nooks of the kitchen," Bramlett explained. "They add warmth and make the area feel cozy." In moments where overhead lighting would be too harsh, you can switch on these accent lights. 

Reach out to a professional if your illumination is lacking

If you have general ambient lighting installed but your space is still poorly lit, then it might be time to consult with a specialist to help you figure out what's missing. "If you get stuck on the best plan, a pro can definitely help," Eric Bramlett exclusively told House Digest. "I recommend calling in an electrician or designer to assess your space and give customized advice. Things like your budget, style preferences, and how you use the kitchen all factor in." Reach out to designers with high reviews in your area, or use a service like The Expert, which lets you consult with award-winning experts for a flat hourly fee. 

If you think you need to add extra recessed lamps or install more pendants to make your kitchen usable, you'll likely need to hire an electrician. "If your lighting plan involves extensive electrical work, such as adding new fixtures, relocating existing ones, or installing new circuits, a licensed electrician should be involved to ensure safety and compliance with local codes," Bramlett said. To find a good electrician, see if you can find one through a trusted referral. If your family or friends used one previously and were pleased with their work, you can bank on being happy with their service as well. If you can't find one through word of mouth, look for one through highly-rated reviews.