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Best kitchen lighting for a modern, stylish look

Oct 10, 2023Oct 10, 2023

There are more options than the dreaded Big Light

any years ago, I went to a friend’s home for the first time and was gobsmacked to find they were using a cheap table lamp to light their kitchen.

It was a shortcut solution in a longer-term fight with their landlord, but it made me realise just how essential lighting the kitchen is. Positioned by the stove, it cast a direct light over the cooking area, but put the rest of the room in dark shadows, making it seem rather sinister.

Good lighting is key to being able to see what’s on the chopping board or in the saucepan and being able to clean up properly afterwards. But lighting needn’t just be for function: you can use lighting to create ambience for eating dinner or add it to accent unusual features or artwork in the kitchen.

As such, kitchen lighting can be broken down into three categories: general, task and accent lighting.

General is for lighting the room as a whole (aka the big light). Pendant and ceiling lights are best for this, set in the centre of the room to cast a glow evenly across the entire space.

Task lighting is for giving crucial areas like the sink or cooker a bit of extra firepower in the illumination department. You can add things like spotlights to the underside of cupboards to give you extra light without taking up precious countertop space. There are also tiny lights you can attach to the inside hinges of cupboards to light the inside when you open the door.

Accent lighting is also known as decorative lighting, something that’s there for fun more than function. It’s a great idea to use this style if your dining table is in the kitchen area, or you eat some of your meals in the kitchen (because strip lighting has never been conducive to a relaxing or romantic meal).

Good kitchen lighting isn’t a case of one over the other. It’s more of a blended approach, using a pick n mix lighting style that works best for your space.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve rounded up the best kitchen lights to bring your space to life and give the heart of the home the spotlight it deserves. We’ve taken care to include a mix of lighting options and clever solutions that should work for kitchens big and small.

See the options below

Statement lighting is an easy way to bring style into any room, and M&S has glamour in the bag with this ribbed light which sits flush against the ceiling to stop dampness from entering the electrical element.

The glass panel ring and frosted diffuser offers a soft glow to the space, which means you’ll likely need extra task lights over workspaces so you can see what you’re doing properly. The chic look means it’s better suited for kitchen diners as this light can straddle both functions.

While it’s slightly cheaper than its lookalike over Pooky, you may need an electrician to fit it, so factor that into the cost.

A chandelier in the kitchen? Why not? Opt for a fun, globe-heavy design that will work nicely in contemporary kitchens. Dunelm’s design sits flush against the ceiling and has a modest drop, which keeps it in the game even if you don’t have high ceilings.

If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen with high ceilings, a pendant ceiling light can add form and interest to various areas of the room: think over the sink or a kitchen island.

IKEA’s powder-coated RANARP design offers an industrial feel with solid steel details and a striped textile cord instead of a chain. It gives direct light so is better suited to task lighting but in small spaces, can also work as a general light.

Turn the spotlight onto your most-used kitchen corners to enjoy perfect lighting exactly where you need it. This ceiling lamp allows you to swivel the spotlight into different areas allowing you to tailor it to your needs. The gold and black design makes it one for statement-seekers. Takes four GU10 bulbs, which are not included.

A brilliant cost-effective solution to kitchen lighting that doesn’t involve wiring or intrusive installation. These strip lights come in a pack of three, each fitted with a 2000mAh battery that can be recharged once it’s out of juice through a USB-C port.

There are two colour temperatures to play with and adjustable brightnesses too, so you can tweak and tailor the light to suit the task at hand. Best of all, it operates through motion detection, so no fumbling for a switch when your hands are busy or messy with dinner prep.

These are ideal for the underside of kitchen cupboards - they attach with a magnetic strip that has adhesive on one side - turning on like magic when you need some light for cooking tasks or in the middle of the night when you’re making a cuppa.

Adding wall lights to your kitchen is a simple way of adding style without having to go to too much bother. Take inspiration from swanky hotel bathrooms where lights are set on either side of a mirror, and put yours on either side of the kitchen sink or opposing walls for a look of unity. Habitat’s green and brass design brings a gentle decorative glow that will work well in many existing kitchen set-ups.

A pretty vintage-inspired light over your breakfast bar makes a lovely option if you've been searching for a secondary light source in your kitchen. The brass hardware and decorative glass shades will up the ante in minimalist kitchens, or join the party for maximalist types.

This 80cm halo-style light is a popular choice for kitchen lighting, and it’s easy to see why. Slim and compact, the ring light casts a wide, even glow over worktops and cooking spaces to make the important stuff visible. Suspend it over a dining area, breakfast bar or kitchen island to give fun and function.

The clear lampshade on this pendant light makes it ideal for kitchens and eating spaces, casting light around the room evenly. The piece has been hand-finished in India while the metal hardware lends itself well to those with an industrial kitchen aesthetic in mind.

A light just to illuminate your carefully chosen wall art - why not? Whether you want to show off a masterpiece or your favourite movie poster, Dunelm’s Dual Wall Light will give it the spotlight it deserves. The industrial look riffs off traditional styles and is best placed in the living room, kitchen or hallway.

DIY skills lacking? No need to call a sparky with this set of bronze wall light sconces; just screw it directly into the wall and use a remote to operate the light through an integrated rechargeable battery pack. They’re helpful in places where you don’t have mains power and can be used even in the event of power outages. A smart hack for the modern home.

Give your wall art the setting it deserves with this battery-operated wall light. It offers three light modes; warm white, natural white light and cool white light, giving you plenty of options to best highlight your piece.

You could even use it as a stand-free lamp over your home office desk or keep it over your cookbook shelf for extra illumination when you’re cheffing in the kitchen.

The lamp head is rotatable and the tube light is dimmable while a timer feature means you won’t zap the batteries if you accidentally leave it switched on.