01/08/2015 04:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

10 Tips to Get Your Kitchen Lighting Right

Since the kitchen is where most families spend the bulk of their time, it's important that the space is designed just right, especially when it comes to lighting. We asked top designers for their advice on kitchen lighting design, from must-haves to problems to avoid.


TIP: "Choose lighting that compliments the entire home. In this kitchen I designed as part of an Upper West Side duplex penthouse apartment, I used simple contemporary custom fixtures to enhance the aesthetic of clean architectural lines of the furniture and bold art on the walls." - Jennifer Post, Jennifer Post Design


TIP: "Break with tradition! You don't always have to use pendants over a kitchen island. For example, in the kitchen above, the client wanted a clean, uninterrupted look, so we used a pair of the Artemide Orion Suspension Fixtures flush-mounted with the ceiling to create a skylight effect in the high rise." - Ruthie Alan, Alan Design Studio


TIP: "Use lighting on multiple levels. Combine under-cabinet lights with cans for task lighting and add a pendant to create a focal point. Put absolutely everything on a dimmer, even under-cabinet lights if you can. Mood lighting sets the tone." - Cindy Galvin, Bardes Interiors


TIP: "Leave the task lighting to the invisible under-cabinet and recessed fixtures, and select beautiful, interesting fixtures for the ceiling and over the bar. I prefer antique or vintage pieces. Let these be jewelry for the room, providing an ambient glow for those times when the party (inevitably) ends up in the kitchen." - Wesley Moon


TIP: "General kitchen lighting should be located directly over walkways, prep areas, sinks and cook tops. This way, no matter where you are or what you're doing, you won't have any dark corners. I love these three head recessed fixtures we used in the kitchen above." - Jamie Herzlinger


TIP: "Being a high function space, task lighting and lighting at the edge of the countertops is essential. However, kitchens have become the heart of the home and ambient, lifestyle lighting is also important. I love to use unique pendant lighting and highlight focal areas of the kitchen, such as an art piece or a display cabinet." - Jennifer Palumbo


TIP: "Kitchen lighting design should begin at the very onset of the design process and must be considered in the context of the finishes of the cabinets, countertops and walls. In this kitchen above, we used a countertop without much reflectivity so the ceiling lighting wouldn't produce a glare. As it is an all white kitchen, we also worked closely with lighting designer Nancy McCoy to select the best color temperature of the lighting to enhance our vision of 'white.'" - Michael Merrill, ASID


TIP: "Today's kitchen serves as a family room, kitchen, dining room and even office. Therefore, multiple layers of lighting are needed. Treat these open spaces independently with your selections of lights. The finishes and styles don't have to match. Push the envelope and add the unexpected." - Penny Francis, Eclectic Home


TIP: "It's best not to light from the ceiling only as that can lead to shadows on the work surface during cooking. In the kitchen above, we lit the backsplash from behind so it gives out a gentle glow, but good quality LED under-cabinets lights work well too. Just be careful that they don't get reflected in the backsplash material and cause too much glare." - Karin Verzariu, Key Interiors


TIP: "Never underestimate the role that natural light plays in a room. When designing your kitchen make sure to frame out this light with appropriate window treatments--don't be scared to use silk in a kitchen if the formality of the kitchen calls for it. Or sometimes the best option is using appropriately placed recessed and task lighting. The simplest answer is often the best one. " - Rivers Spencer

> More Design Tips from Dering Hall