How to light the kitchen: Ideas and tips for ceiling, worktop, cabinets and island

Finding the right lighting for the kitchen is sometimes more difficult than expected. This is because it is a multifunctional space that we use at different times of the day: in the morning for breakfast, at noon for lunch and in the evening for dinner and parties.

There are several crucial factors in achieving practical and functional lighting that also creates a pleasant atmosphere for this focal point of any home, a place for good conversation and shared activities.

To help you plan your kitchen lighting, we have put together the most important tips and tricks.


Gone are the days when, in most kitchens, a fluorescent tube hung from the ceiling and bathed the entire room in an unpleasant, almost morgue-like light. If you are wondering what lighting to install in the kitchen, nowadays there are almost endless possibilities for optimally illuminating this area of the house.

When planning kitchen lighting, special attention must be paid to the use of multiple light sources that allow for comfortable and safe cooking and working in the kitchen.

  • Avoid light casting shadows on the worktop and work surfaces.
  • Ensure that lighting is sufficient to properly process food and determine its quality.
  • Lighting should be designed to create a pleasant atmosphere.

To properly plan the lighting in the kitchen, it is important to know where the light is needed. For this purpose, the kitchen is usually divided into different areas: Basic lighting on the ceiling, basic lighting for the worktop and hob, lamps for the dining table and accent lighting.


Kitchen ceiling luminaires are one of the cornerstones of any lighting design and are primarily used for orientation. It is important to choose light sources that illuminate the room evenly. Recessed spotlights, spotlights, LED tracks and pendant luminaires are available for this purpose.

In the case of recessed spotlights, those with a large beam angle (at least 60°), rotatable and tiltable and made of easy-care and easy-to-clean metal materials are particularly recommended. They can be arranged in various shapes: Lines, circles, geometric shapes... Depending on the type of spotlight, the maximum distance between them varies between 80 cm (halogen spotlights) and up to 150 cm (downlights, which offer a very open beam angle).

Pendant luminaires with shades create a homely atmosphere and are particularly popular in country-style kitchens. Narrow shades are not suitable, however, because the light is projected too narrowly onto a small area and does not illuminate sufficiently. In the case of these ceiling lamps, it is recommended that they are also smooth and made of easy-care materials for easy cleaning. Lampshades made of fabric, for example, are not suitable because they turn yellow in a very short time and also retain odours.

For modern kitchens and open kitchens, there is also indirect lighting in the form of "invisible" light sources that illuminate the ceiling from the wall units. These lights create a particularly pleasant atmosphere in a large area of the kitchen. It is important that the walls and ceilings are white or light-coloured because they reflect the light best, allowing it to spread throughout the room.

For optimal basic lighting, warm white lights (2,700 - 3,000 Kelvin) and 300 lumens per square metre are usually recommended, which allow clear and good visibility in all areas of the kitchen.


Although ceiling lights provide pleasant illumination to ensure orientation, additional light sources are required for a safe working area.

In most kitchens, tall cabinets block the passage of ceiling lights and cause shadows. To ensure safe working and avoid cuts and burns, direct lighting of the work area is an excellent solution. It should not cast shadows or blind the people cooking.

In kitchens with wall units, integrated spotlights, LED strips (integrated or surface-mounted) and LED lamps with a flexible light arm that can be directed towards the work area can be installed under the cabinets. All these luminaires must have special protection devices, be fireproof (especially recessed spotlights in cabinets) and waterproof (especially the luminaires above the cooking area). Therefore, when planning the kitchen, it is best to choose a cooker hood that already has powerful integrated lighting.

Neutral to cool white light (3,300 - 5,300 Kelvin) and 500 to 600 lumens per square metre are recommended for illuminating work areas. To ensure uniform illumination, the distance between light sources and work surface should be at least 50 cm and the distance between light sources 50 to 80 centimetres.

Those who dispense with wall units in the kitchen are rewarded with a generous sense of space and more lighting options. In this case, pendant luminaires can be used for spot lighting. It is important that they hang high enough so that they are not in the way when cooking and preparing food.


If you have your dining area in the kitchen, it should be additionally illuminated. The lamps in the dining area should help to create a pleasant atmosphere that invites you to feel good and enjoy yourself. To this end, many people opt for decorative pendant luminaires that provide targeted light and create a cosy atmosphere. But here, too, there are a few tips to bear in mind:

  • If the table is round or square, round luminaires ensure a harmonious appearance.
  • Elongated luminaires go well with a rectangular table.
  • Several height-adjustable pendant luminaires are also ideal for skilfully setting the scene in a dining area or bar.
  • The optimal distance between table and lamps is between 60 and 70 centimetres so that they do not interfere with conversations with friends or family.
  • You should also make sure that the light is not too dazzling.
  • With a dimmer, you can adjust the light to the time of day and the respective mood. After all, the atmosphere of a breakfast with the whole family is different from that of a romantic dinner.
  • If all these measures are not enough, you can set further accents with additional LED lighting above or in cupboards and cabinets.

Warm white lamps (2,700 - 3,000 Kelvin) and 200 to 300 lumens per square metre are recommended for lighting the kitchen table.


Kitchen cabinet lighting is an ideal addition to the basic lighting in the kitchen and also helps to distinguish salt from sugar and find the kitchen utensils you need in no time.

If there is a gap between the cupboards and the ceiling, luminaires mounted above the wall cupboards are a good solution as they illuminate them perfectly.

LED lights are also very popular for this purpose and are suitable for installation on the bottom as well as on the top of the shelves. Glass shelves with LED light are also very practical, as they illuminate the cabinet and the work surface evenly.

On the other hand, open shelves can be equipped with LED light strips to create individual lighting accents in the kitchen.

Integrated spots and LED strips are particularly effective and elegant for glass display cabinets.


A combination of direct and indirect lighting in the kitchen is crucial for a harmonious overall appearance. While functional lighting in the form of direct light should be used above worktops and the kitchen island, indirect lighting can be placed almost anywhere but is ideal for shelves, in kitchen cabinets or next to the extractor hood. In the communal dining area, both options are conceivable. Indirect light creates a warm and cosy atmosphere in the kitchen.

Downlights that can simply be installed as LED strips under cabinets, cabinets illuminated from the inside, light strips in handles and finger pulls... are some of the existing possibilities.


As already mentioned, the easiest way to illuminate the cooking surface is to choose a cooker hood with built-in lights. Such lights should be waterproof and easy to clean, as they are in contact with cooking fumes and grease residues. Especially in the case of cooking islands, modern cooker hoods look more like lamps than cooking appliances.


The island is usually a work area (cutting, preparing food, cooking), but sometimes it is also a place for snacking, sitting or chatting. If it has a cooker hood, it is advisable that it is already equipped with appropriate lighting. If there are downdraft extractors or if there is enough space, one or more pendant lights can be installed to create zones.


Finally, it is the details that turn a conventional kitchen into an exceptional space: lighting of the kitchen racks, handles, skirting boards...


Thanks to illuminated kitchen racks, usually with LED lights, you will have no problem distinguishing the spatula from the ladle. These systems are available in different designs, colours and sizes.


Illuminated and dimmable handles can create an attractive ambience and bathe the kitchen in indirect light. If the kitchen has handleless cabinets, LED light strips can be installed in the profiles, which further accentuate the modern look of the kitchen.


LED strip lights in the kitchen skirting boards create a cosy and modern ambience. These strips are available in a wide variety of lengths, allowing for exact adjustment.


Shiny glass splashbacks are an eye-catcher in themselves, but illuminated they are a real visual highlight that sets the kitchen off beyond compare. This usually involves integrated LED lighting, the light colour of which can be infinitely adjusted.


For modern kitchen lighting, there is basically a choice between LED and halogen lamps, or a combination of both types. Both variants have specific properties and the following table summarises the advantages and disadvantages of each type:

LED lights



Energy saving

More expensive

Long life

Little possibility of attenuation

Immediate illumination

Spot lighting

Individual and decorative possibilities

LED bulbs are recyclable and do not pollute the environment

No ultraviolet and infrared rays (no health risks)

Halogen lights



Bright light

Shorter lifetime than LED lamps

Optimum colour rendering

Require more energy

Spot lighting

Easily dimmable


Colour temperature is the different shades that a light can have. That is, whether it is more yellow, more white or more bluish and is measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

Colour temperature has a proven effect on our well-being. When you buy a lamp, you can choose between warm (2,200 to 2,700 Kelvin), neutral (4,000 to 4,500 Kelvin) and cool (5,000 to 6,500 K) light. In the kitchen, a combination of the different is ideal.

Work and cooking surfaces should be equipped with a cooler light source, and the dining area with a dimmable warm white light.


Since the kitchen has different zones, the lighting of which also depends on the time of day and circumstances, an ideal option is to opt for an intelligent kitchen. By integrating the control of all lighting units in a home automation system, you can determine the desired lighting constellation at any given time.


In modern households, the kitchen is no longer simply a "place to prepare meals". The kitchen has become a multifunctional space that we share with family and friends, where we sometimes even work, and the scene of gastronomy, stories, experiences, celebrations... in other words, of our lives. That is why the lighting of the kitchen and each of its areas must be approached with knowledge and detail.

In this blog post we have presented the most important factors for the ideal kitchen lighting, so that you can make the most of the possibilities of this space in the house.

At Luxsystems we have extensive experience in designing the lighting for these spaces that many families turn into places of conviviality, get-togethers and shared time, far beyond the act of cooking. Tell us about your project and we will be happy to help you to achieve a warm and functional atmosphere, with the design you dream of.

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