Solstice Kitchen & Bath

The Latest in Kitchen Lighting Design Trends

March 11, 2024

Lighting is essential throughout your home, from your entryway to your attic. A complete lighting design, carefully planned to meet your needs, is especially important in multifunctional spaces like the kitchen design. If you are planning to update your kitchen design, now is the perfect time to fix those annoying spots in your kitchen that lack sufficient lighting or have too much glare.

Use this opportunity to create a well-thought out, layered lighting design. Create a plan for your lighting that can take you from early morning breakfast on a workday to cocktails with friends on a Friday night, and everything in between!

Understanding Kitchen Lighting

Why is lighting so important in a kitchen design? Today’s kitchen is a multi-functional space where you do more than just store and cook food. Most kitchens are also rooms where you eat dinner with your family, host gatherings with friends, help the kids with homework, and relax with a cup of coffee and a good book on a Saturday morning. That’s a lot to ask of one room, but innovative kitchen design techniques let you create a space that can do all this and more!

Your lighting plays a key role in this, helping your kitchen go from one task to the next with ease. Lighting affects your room’s functionality, but it also changes the mood of your space with the light levels, sources, and color. Some areas of your room require more targeted lighting so you can easily see to perform tasks like reading recipes and chopping vegetables. Other zones of a kitchen design need a more general light source or even softer lighting, so you unwind with your best friend over a glass of wine.

Your kitchen light fixtures must do all of this and also complement your kitchen’s design aesthetic. If you have an open plan kitchen design, it also needs to blend with adjacent spaces like living areas. By carefully planning your kitchen’s lighting plan with your kitchen remodeling expert, you can create a cohesive lighting design that meets all of these requirements.

Types of Lighting for Kitchen Designs

The key to creating the perfect lighting design for a busy kitchen is a layered lighting plan. Remember also that a single light fixture can serve more than one purpose, particularly when combined with lighting controls to change light levels. Here are the key types of lighting you need to consider for your kitchen design:

Ambient lighting is the general light source throughout your room. It tends to provide softer lighting that gives your room a cozy feel rather than being a purely functional, clinical space. It lets you create a space where you feel like you can relax, unwind, and hang out with family and friends. Ambient light also gives your space character by highlighting different zones within the kitchen, creating a welcoming atmosphere that draws you into different areas within the kitchen.  Recessed or pendant lights can be an ambient light source, especially when paired with a dimmer switch or smart lighting controls. Wall sconces, over or under-cabinet lights, and toe kick lights are also excellent sources of ambient light.

Task lighting is your focused, targeted light sources that are essential to the work you do in your kitchen design. Workspaces such as countertops, the sink, and cooking areas require task lighting so you can see clearly to perform the job at hand. Whether you are reading recipes, chopping vegetables, preparing meat, or adding ingredients to your dinner, you need a bright, targeted light source with no glare or shadow so you can see what you are doing. Recessed lights, spotlights, undercabinet lights, and well-positioned pendants can all form part of task lighting for your kitchen design. Natural daylight through large open windows can also enhance your room’s illumination, including for task lighting.

Accent lighting is similar to the spotlights, downlighters, or uplighters you typically see in a gallery to highlight pieces of artwork. In your kitchen design, accent light sources can be used to highlight decorative features like a tile design, contents of open storage like accessories on a floating shelf, or special dishes or glassware in a display cabinet. Determine which features you want to draw attention to, and carefully position spotlights, wall sconces, or uplighters to make them a focal point.

Decorative lighting transforms your functional light fixtures into design accessories. Choose from the array of today’s stunning light fixtures that serve to light up your space while also accenting your design style. You could add a bold pendant or a modern chandelier over your dining table or kitchen island, for example. Select light fixtures that are big enough to draw attention but not so large that they overwhelm your room. Choose materials and finishes for your light fixtures that complement your room’s aesthetic, either in shades that match other design features or in a contrasting tone to stand out as a focal point.

Latest Trends in Kitchen Lighting Designs

In the latest kitchen design styles, lighting balances form and function, with light fixtures and lighting controls that are as multi-functional as your kitchen work zones. Get inspired by the latest lighting trends to help you choose fixtures and a lighting plan that will take you from morning to night with ease.

Go for Architectural or Natural Lines: The latest lighting styles have moved beyond traditional chandeliers and sconces to feature sculptural lines that mimic architectural features or natural lines that emulate a curving river or peaked mountain. They create an eye-catching focal point and can be found in materials such as glass, metal, wood, and more.

Create a Stunning Focal Point: Some lighting naturally blends in with your room, such as recessed ceiling lights or undercabinet lights. Other light fixtures become a design feature and create a focal point in your room. The latter has gained in popularity as they are an ideal way to bring a dramatic flair to your kitchen design. They also serve to draw attention to particular areas and to delineate key zones in your kitchen.

Place a large pendant or a modern chandelier over a dining area to set it apart from your kitchen work zones. Or place a cluster of smaller lights, such as glass pendants over an island. Another way to make your light fixtures stand out is to choose an unusual material or a contrasting color or finish that distinguishes it from other design accessories in your kitchen design. If your kitchen includes a breakfast nook or a reading corner with a cozy chair, you could pair it with an eye-catching table lamp or a floor lamp with a dramatic arc.

Choose Multi-Functional Light Fixtures: In a busy kitchen design, there are multiple demands on your light fixtures. It helps to understand that many light fixtures can serve more than one purpose, so you don’t need a unique fixture for each lighting need. Spotlights or pendants at an island, for example, can be targeted for task lighting, but when dimmed can also serve as softer ambient light sources. In cabinet lighting in glass front cabinets can both accent decorative glassware while also forming part of your ambient light sources. Careful planning and clever design choices let your light sources meet your needs without overpowering your space with too many fixtures.

wood and white kitchen cabinet design

Light Up Different Levels: When planning lighting for your kitchen design, make sure to consider all areas of your kitchen. In addition to choosing light sources to cover all zones, be sure to address different levels of your kitchen design. This could include recessed ceiling lights, pendants or chandeliers, or spotlights, all bringing light in from the ceiling. Wall sconces and large windows add light at the wall-level of your room, as do over-, in-, and under-cabinet lighting. Toe kick lights illuminate your kitchen at floor level and can be an ideal soft light to leave on for late night trips to get a glass of water.

Mix Your Materials and Colors: If you are including decorative fixtures as part of your lighting plan, then you open up a world of opportunities to enhance your kitchen design style. Select light fixtures that form part of your room’s style by choosing a size, shape, material, color, and finish that fits your aesthetic. Select a fixture that matches other design features like plumbing fixtures and cabinet hardware or go for a different tone that stands out. One of the latest trends is to choose a fixture with mixed materials or two-tone metallic features to bring a unique edge to your design. For example, choose a fixture that combines glass and metal, or go for a metal fixture that pairs two metal tones such as black and gold.

Other Practical Tips for Choosing Kitchen Lighting

Once you have selected the right lighting plan and fixture style for your kitchen, what else do you need to know?

  • If you are changing your light fixtures, make sure you have an electrician to help you. A kitchen remodel is the perfect time to update your lighting as you will already have an electrician onsite working on your project.
  • Take natural lighting into account when planning your lighting design. You could consider installing larger windows so you can maximize your available light during daylight hours. This may also depend on the position of your kitchen and how much sunlight it gets during the day.
  • Install lighting controls so that your light fixtures can perform more than one job. This could be as simple as a dimmer switch. Or go for the tech solution by installing a smart lighting system. This lets you control your light sources, levels, and even color at the tap of a button on your smart device. You can even save presets so you can set up your kitchen for holiday dinner or party mode with a simple swipe.

Create Your Ideal Kitchen Lighting Design

No kitchen design is complete without a full lighting design. It impacts both your room’s style and functionality, so give careful consideration to the type of light fixtures, the position of your lighting, and the style of your fixtures. Be sure to include more than one light source and choose light fixtures that meet all your needs, from task to ambient, accent, and decorative lighting.  Pair these light sources with smart controls that let you change light levels with ease to meet all your needs, day or night.

At Solstice Kitchen and Bath, our kitchen remodeling experts can help with all your design and remodeling needs, from updating your layout to creating the perfect lighting design.