Trying to cook in a poorly lit kitchen is an exercise in frustration. And, given that our kitchens often now function as dining, entertaining and work spaces, a mix of good light sources has become essential in order to use the space effectively. There’s a wide variety on offer, everything from overhead, under cabinets and shelving, wall-mounted, pendants, and even lights in the plinth.
Kitchen lights can make a room look warm and welcoming, cold and fresh, or feel bigger and brighter. They can change the look of colours and materials, and add a designer look to inexpensive cabinetry, so consider them at the start of your project. T5 Led Tube
We’ve selected some of the best kitchen lights you can buy right now – as well as the questions to ask when making your selection. Below, you'll find our buying guide to help you select the best lights for kitchens or you can scroll on for our top picks.
Task lighting provides light for you to prep and cook food. It can include lights under cupboards or open shelving, or spotlights angled towards a wall so that light reflects onto the worktop.
Overhead lighting serves as the room’s main source. This can include spotlights and track lighting, which can be supplemented with lights at the top of the cabinets, directed towards the ceiling. Directional spotlights can do more than just light the whole room: for example, they can be angled to help you see inside a larder cupboard.
Internal lighting sits within your units or drawers to help you see the contents more clearly. They’re usually LED spots or strips, and can also be used as mood lighting within glass-fronted cupboards.
Decorative or feature lighting is often chosen for its fit with the rest of the kitchen, but it can also serve to highlight different areas or work as task lighting. Examples include pendants or wall lights, especially if they can be angled.
Mood lighting sets the right ambience for the room, whether you’re entertaining, reading or relaxing. It can take the form of LED strips below worktops and shelves, in plinths and cornicing, as backlit splashbacks, or around a dropped ceiling. There may be the option of colour-changing and dimming.
If you can, make sure each type of lighting is on a separate circuit. This means that you don’t need them all on at the same time. For example, your task lights can be off, while your pendants or wall lights are on.
Check the colour temperature as well as brightness of your lights. Energy-efficient LEDs, for example, come in different colour temperatures, from cool to warm. Generally, cooler tones are good to work in, while warm yellowy whites are better for creating a cosy feel. Consider the reflective qualities of your worksurfaces, too, especially in areas where lighting will be positioned above them. Shiny materials such as stainless steel and quartz will maximise the lighting, whereas dark or matte surfaces may need additional lighting for sufficient illumination.
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Since it’s likely that you’ll be buying more than one type of light for your kitchen, as a rule of thumb, budget around the same amount as you’re spending on the flooring, and split it between the types. Pendants and wall lights are often quite affordable, with prices starting around £50, while ceiling-mounted spots can cost as little as £100 for a set. Recessed spotlights tend to cost from £20-30 each. LED strips are also affordable, costing from about £10-15 per metre.
Price: £119 | Buy now from Industville
While there’s no one-size-fits-all pendant for your kitchen, and thousands of styles to choose from, this opal glass design is, quite literally, a great all-rounder. Its simple shape means it suits a variety of spaces, and it can be hung solo or in multiples of three or five over an island. The secret is its opal glass shade, which softly diffuses light, giving it timeless appeal.
Another plus point is that Industville makes a range of opal glass lights, so you can mix and match wall lights with different-shaped pendants, while finishes range from this warm copper, to pewter, brass and black. A final reason to buy is that the shades are made from mostly recycled glass, giving each one an individual, artisan-style look.
Key details – Type: Pendant; IP-rated?: Yes, IP20; Dimensions: 22.2 x 22.2 x 29.8cm; Features: Bespoke specification available
Price: £175 | Buy now from The Conran Shop
Depending on the style you choose, wall lights are just as handy above a dining area as they are in the working area of a kitchen. This beautifully designed wall light is a case in point: complete with a bone-china shade that creates a warm glow, it has a space-saving design that means it can be positioned almost anywhere you like. However, it’s the adjustable bracket that gives it extra versatility, allowing you to position it so the light can double up for food prep.
The natural white shade should be a good fit for both classic and modern schemes. However, there’s also a pretty light blue and green to choose from, and the option of a switched base, should you wish to have one or two controlled independently.
Key details – Type: Wall; IP-rated?: Yes, IP20; Dimensions: 9 x 23 x 16cm; Features: Dimmable
Buy now from The Conran Shop
Price: £90 | Buy now from Dusk Lights
The best task lighting is versatile, as proved by this sleek under-cabinet light bar. Not only can Kob’s trio of 2.3W LEDs be flicked on and off easily via a switch on the unit, its warm white light serves as illumination to prepare food while also not being too harsh to have on by itself in the evening. Even better, you can combine up to three of the bars with a connector (sold separately), so you can turn on all your under-cabinet lighting in one move. This bar is also available in white.
There are a couple of downsides: one is that the bar itself is quite chunky, so unless it’s set far back, it will be visible below the wall cabinet. The other is that there’s no ability to dim the light: this may not be an issue if it’s only going to serve as task lighting, but might if you’d like to use it as mood lighting.
Key details – Type: Under-cabinet light; IP-rated?: Yes, IP20; Dimensions: 60 x 7 x 2.5cm; Features: Manufacturer’s five-year warranty
Buy now from Dusk Lights
Price: £1,199 | Buy now from The Soho Lighting Company
If high ceilings mean that spotlights don’t provide enough overhead light for a kitchen workstation, and shaded pendants aren’t bright enough, then this industrial-style strip light might be the one for you. That’s because it comes with a hanging chain that’s almost 3m long, allowing it to float above island work surfaces while flooding them with task lighting.
Its style is fantastically versatile; it’s crafted from textured aluminium, and when illuminated it adds a warm glow to any space. Perhaps the only thing to be aware of is that you’ll need to hunt down the T8 tube bulbs when they need replacing – although there are now LED versions of what was previously only fluorescent.
Key details – Type: Pendant; IP-rated?: Not stated; Dimensions: 30 x 147 x 23.5cm; Features: Two-year guarantee
Buy now from The Soho Lighting Company
Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Simple Lighting
Affordable enough to dot liberally across your kitchen kickboards, these LED plinth lights are also pretty cheap to run, using just 1.5W of power each. However, you’ll need to invest in a power converter to run them, which is sold separately. On the plus side, once they’re installed, they shouldn’t require much in the way of maintenance – and, when turned on, will give your kitchen an extra bit of ambient sparkle, especially if your flooring reflects light well.
As well as a diffused cover (so the individual LEDs aren’t visible) and a smart brushed-chrome finish, these plinth lights are available in either warm white or natural white, so they can coordinate with the other lighting in the room.
Key details – Type: Plinth; IP-rated?: Yes – IP20; Dimensions: 3.6 x 0.6 x 3.6cm; Features: Lifespan of 30,000 hours, dimmable, 120° beam angle
Buy now from Simple Lighting
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