Lighting, a key element for a successful kitchen remodel project, is often overlooked and undervalued. The right light fixtures, however, will elevate every individual feature in the room, from cabinetry and flooring to appliances and accessories. These fixtures will illuminate the space and transform it into a functional, inviting setting suited for daily tasks, family meals, and entertaining.

Here are our best tips to help master your kitchen lighting selections:

Plan Your Lighting Layout Early

kitchen remodel sketch

There are several reasons why it’s important to consider lighting during the planning stages.  First and most importantly, it helps determine where electrical wiring is necessary. Determining wire and fixture placement in advance helps prevent errors and costly changes. It keeps the remodel within budget and on schedule and ensures that you’ll have the proper amount of lighting for the entire space.

It’s a good idea to collaborate with your design-build contractor and electrician at this stage. Their expertise will offer valuable insight into factors such as appropriate lights for each area, their placement for best illumination, available options such as dimmers and smart features, and so on. A proactive approach offers ample time to plan a personalized layout and choose attractive, functional fixtures that will serve your household for many years.

Understand the Four Layers of Lighting

kitchen with two-tone cabinets and countertops

A well-lit, high-functioning kitchen will include four important types of lighting. These “layers” work together, ensuring that the room functions to its best potential, offering a comfortable level of light for every task and occasion. Good lighting improves the overall aesthetics, complementing your home’s architectural details, décor, and furnishings.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is found over and/or around primary work areas such as countertops, an island or peninsula, and in the pantry. It illuminates daily tasks and activities, from meal preparation and cleanup to family time, entertaining, or a quick midnight snack. This type includes fixtures such as pendant and recessed ceiling lights as well as undercabinet and vent hood lighting. Strategically placed for optimum illumination, these lights are crucial for the daily routine.

Accent Lighting

Though accent lighting is not the primary source of light in the kitchen, it adds an inviting warmth to the space. This layer offers depth and dimension, quietly enhancing the ambiance using sconces, uplights, or in-cabinet, recessed, or track lights to highlight architectural features, artwork, or other decorative elements.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting, often called the base layer, offers a gentle radiance that complements the kitchen design scheme. Sconces, torchieres, chandeliers, uplights, pendants, and in-cabinet, track, and recessed lights help provide a soft, subtle effect offering general illumination and comfortable appeal to the space.

Decorative Lighting

As you might guess, this layer is primarily decorative, providing interest and eye-catching personality. While it does offer illumination, its main purpose is to provide an aesthetically pleasing focal point that complements the room’s other fixtures and design style. Chandeliers and candlestick sconces are popular decorative fixtures, making the desired statement that helps tie the design plan together.

The most successful kitchen lighting design plan includes all these important layers. The complementary combination brightens comfortably when and where needed, banishes shadows and gray areas, and offers a functional purpose to the room. Note that many lights, such as recessed or pendants, can function in more than one layer. Fixture placement, dimmers, light bulbs, and other factors help each one serve where necessary.

Choose the Right Bulbs

lightbulb choices

Light bulbs influence the ambiance of the kitchen, so it’s important to select the right ones for each fixture. Here’s a quick overview using the Kelvin color temperature scale as a guide:

Warm White (2700K-3000K)

Ideal for ambient lighting, its warmth creates a cozy, inviting setting for all your kitchen activities.

Neutral White (3500K-4100K)

This neutral option is the perfect choice for task lighting as it offers a pleasing balance of warmth and coolness. It’s well suited for use over countertops or an island or peninsula.

Cool White (5000K-6500K)

Great for precision tasks in kitchen work areas, this cool option most closely mimics daylight. It’s not a great choice for general kitchen lighting, however, as it’s considered too harsh, upsetting the balance of the layered lighting.

The right light bulbs help all areas of the kitchen function to their fullest potential. Offering comfortable illumination for daily tasks and special occasions, they provide a pleasant ambiance throughout the room.

LED, or light-emitting diode bulbs are a smart choice for all your kitchen fixtures. These versatile bulbs emit less heat and provide consistent, uniform illumination.  Long-lasting and energy efficient, they’re available in various color temperatures to suit all your needs.

Maximize Natural Light

University Park Farmhouse Kitchen With Modern Touch Remodel

Natural light is an obvious asset, offering a bright, cheerful space for daily kitchen activities. So it makes sense to take advantage of its benefits throughout the day with attractive windows, French doors, and skylights or tubes. Start by assessing when and where natural light is available and how it can work to your advantage. Depending on the floor plan of your home, this can include natural light from other areas as well, such as a family room or sun porch.

If your existing windows and doors don’t allow much natural light in, consider adding or enlarging them to optimize the room’s exposure to sunlight. Know that in doing so, however, you may lose potential cabinet space and other features, so weigh your options carefully. Your design-build contractor can help map out a balanced plan.

Choosing the Perfect Light Fixtures

Transitional Galley Kitchen Remodel on the M-Streets in Dallas Island

The ingredients for finding the perfect kitchen light fixtures include:

Size and Scale

The kitchen’s square footage is an important consideration for the size and scale of your fixtures, but it doesn’t need to dictate your every choice. For example, when done right, a few properly proportioned larger pendants can be a stunning addition over an island in a small kitchen. Groupings of small fixtures, such as recessed or track lights, can work as accent or ambient lights in a large kitchen as well.

While you don’t want to overwhelm a small space, you don’t want to underestimate large areas either. The key here is balance and proper proportion, where fixtures work together for an attractive, cohesive, and functional blend.

Open Concept Kitchens

Fixtures for the open-concept kitchen that flow into spaces like a family room should complement lighting in the adjacent areas. Aim for a stylish and seamless look that moves the eye through the space, blending existing elements with the new. With careful planning, varied styles and finishes can provide a unified, attractive look throughout.

Unique Shapes, Sizes, and Finishes

Don’t be afraid to consider fixtures with unique styles, shapes, shades, and finishes. Adding carefully selected eclectic options adds a pop of personality and interest. Whether your design style is mid-century modern, traditional, contemporary, farmhouse, or minimalist, fixtures can help define your unique style. From pendants and chandeliers of every size and shape to sconces and flush mount ceiling lights, there is a fixture for your every need and taste.

Subtle Lighting Choices that Make a Big Impact

Preston Hollow Second Story Addition

Sometimes it’s the small details that create the biggest impact on the overall design.

Undercabinet Lighting

Undercabinet lights, mounted beneath upper cabinets are the unsung hero for cooks of every skill level. These hidden lights make a huge difference in the kitchen’s function, illuminating countertops for meal prep and other daily tasks. Their warm glow also highlights custom cabinetry and backsplashes, showcasing unique details. When used with a dimmer switch, these lights provide additional ambiance for any occasion, from cooking, dining, and entertaining to serving as a night light for midnight snacks.

In-Cabinet Lighting

These useful lights, installed inside glass front cabinetry or around open shelving, showcase dinnerware and/or decorative accessories. Their gentle illumination not only enhances organization within, but they also offer an attractive focal point and understated elegance to the room.

Toe Kick Lights

Toe kick lights are installed in the space between the base cabinets and the floor. In addition to the instant ambiance they provide, they can act as a night light as well. These simple lights elevate the look and feel of the kitchen, showcasing beautiful cabinetry and flooring.

Highlight Special Artwork

Use sconces, uplights, strips, and recessed or track lighting to draw attention to special artwork or architectural details throughout the kitchen. Whether you wish to create a focal point or simply highlight these interesting features, the right lighting will provide the complementary illumination for the best effect.

Incorporate Smart Lighting

With today’s technology, smart lighting systems are more accessible than ever. Convenient and customizable, they enhance lighting function for a pleasant, inviting environment. A smartphone app easily accesses smart programmable switches, bulbs, and dimmers or voice commands through home management devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Control the ambiance in the kitchen by adjusting brightness, color, and level of light throughout the room. Programming lights to turn on and off at specified times saves energy and utility costs and offers additional layers of security when you’re not home, deterring possible intruders.

Take Your Time Selecting Fixtures

homeowners shopping for light fixtures

As with all aspects of your kitchen remodel plan, don’t rush the lighting selection process. Light fixtures are essential to the overall design. They help define your kitchen’s style and unite other essential components. Identify key lighting elements that you’re drawn to and choose those that will function well and complement your home’s architecture and design style. If you’re not feeling confident to make choices on your own, a designer and design-build firm can supply additional ideas and guidance to tie it all together.

Blackline Renovations, Your Kitchen Remodel Experts

Since 2002, Blackline Renovations has had the privilege of providing quality design-build services for Dallas, TX homeowners. Our talented staff has extensive experience with every facet of the kitchen remodel process, including selecting lighting fixtures to suit every homeowner’s needs and style.

Using our wide range of design-build services, we guide homeowners through the entire kitchen remodeling process. From the planning stage to beautiful completion, our team of professionals creates a customized plan just for you.

Please view our portfolio for inspiration from our recently completed projects. Featured projects include kitchen, living room, bed and bathrooms, utility/mud rooms, ADUs/garage conversions, and home additions.

We’d love to help make your remodeling dreams come true. Give us a call at 214-827-3747 or schedule a consultation with our staff. We’re here to answer all your questions about remodeling and home additions.

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