Interior Design Basics with DKOR: Kitchen Lighting Tips

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We have reviewed with you kitchen layouts, kitchen basic dimensions, and materials as part of our design basic series. Our topic today, and our last post on the kitchen topic is about kitchen lighting tips.

Lighting is a crucial element for every kitchen. It needs to be planned well, to make sure you have enough ambient (also called general), task and accent lighting. The key is to have a good balance of all three types of lighting. The American lighting association states that “a good lighting plan combines all three types to light an area according to function and style” (from their website here).

Kitchen Lighting – Ambient 


Let us start by working on your ambient lighting. This is accomplished with your general lights and it is the main source of light for your kitchen space. A good rule of thumb is to have a central light point in the middle of the room, like a pendant fixture. Then, plan for a grid of recessed or track lights in your ceiling. We say that you should have a recessed light every 5 feet approximately.

Typically, the light sources for general lighting are recessed or track lighting, and as mentioned above, pendant fixtures like chandeliers for example. In some cases, wall sconces can be part of the general lighting as well. Make sure you have enough of these sources to illuminate your entire space but without creating glare.

Kitchen Lighting Tips by Miami Interior Designers

Kitchen and Breakfast Area – Residential Interior Design Project in Aventura, Florida

See in above picture: a grid of recessed lights and a central light over the breakfast area. See in the back additional pendant light over kitchen island as well.


Kitchen Lighting – Task Light


The second lighting type is task light; it is the most important! This kitchen lighting will help you while prepping, cooking or reading. We recommend ample task lighting for all kitchen counter areas. Here more than ever, check that your lights do not create glare or any distracting shadows.

The most common task light source in a kitchen are the under cabinet lights. Companies also offer mechanically activated lights illuminating the inside of the cabinets.

Kitchen Lighting Tips by Miami Interior Designers

Residential Interior Design Project in Canada


See above combination of a central light pendant, grid of recessed lights and under-counter lighting.

Kitchen Lighting – Accent 


The third and last type of light is accent lighting. You can create a special mood and add drama to any space with this type of lighting. It is used to highlight specific areas, such as an architectural feature, or a texture on a wall. It is often used also to showcase a particular item, like a painting or sculpture.

Wall sconces, picture lights, LED reveals, recessed or track spotlights are all fixtures one can use to create such a light.

See how we used lighting ABOVE the cabinets to create mood lighting. It makes the cabinetry feel ethereal and light.


Notice here: general recessed light, under-counter task light, and accent LED reveals to highlight the ceiling beams, as well as in the countertop wall return, highlighting the tile backsplash.

Our Miami interior design team use pendant lights as decorative lighting rather than as part of the general light scheme. Some light fixtures are accents by themselves, just due to their design and materiality. But they may not create enough light to be considered part of the general lighting.


Kitchen Lighting Tips by Miami Interior Designers

See here the Tom Dixon bronze Etch light we selected has a decorative feature versus helping with general lighting.

Lighting Favorites


If you check out our interior design portfolio, you will notice that we LOVE to have pendants above kitchen islands. It anchors the island and gives us the opportunity to add a pop of metal, glass or even a color in the kitchen. Whether you place it centered or off-centered, that’s up to you. An offset cluster of pendants can add a dramatic focal point. While a linear pendant, centered, can be just the piece you need to finish your space. Of course, the classic two or three pendants, aligned, on top of the island always work as well!



Look at these two beautiful pendants above island/bar area on our Miami Modern Home project.

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