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14 Tips for Better Kitchen Lighting

Kitchens aren't just for cooking, they're often the spot where people gather in the home. Whether you're looking for better lighting for your cooking tasks or want to create a more welcoming space for friends and family, here are 14 tips for better kitchen lighting.

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Go for LayersBreadmaker/Shutterstock

Go for Layers

Since no single fixture will provide all the light necessary for kitchen lighting tasks, try adding layers. Use a main overhead light with layers of smaller lights placed in areas for various tasks, such as near a food prep station, over the stove and above the kitchen sink. Adding layers will also help cut down on glare.
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Add AmbianceSandra Schramm/Shutterstock

Add Ambiance

Ambient kitchen lighting is often overlooked in cooking areas. And it can help fill any gaps in lighting, while also creating a warm glow for the room and is an inexpensive way to upgrade your kitchen.
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Think About TasksMarko Poplasen/Shutterstock

Think About Tasks

Properly placed task kitchen lighting will provide just the right illumination for tasks such as reading recipes and prepping vegetables. The best place for task lighting is between the work surface and a person's head, so lighting placed under cabinets is ideal. And strip lights are a popular choice for this space.
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Use Light DimmersFamily Handyman

Use Light Dimmers

Adding light dimmer switches in the kitchen makes sense because bright illumination makes tasks easier, while dimmed lights help with ambiance after the meal. Adding separate kitchen lighting dimmers for each fixture will help you customize the lighting for the situation.
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Add Depth With AccentsKristin Smith/Shutterstock

Add Depth With Accents

Accent kitchen lighting gives depth and dimension to your space. For example, if you have a cabinet to store decorative glassware or a china collection, find the right type of LED light for the space. And rope lights and puck lights are popular for this type of cabinet lighting.
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Add a Wall Sconce for Kitchen LightingFamily Handyman

Add a Wall Sconce for Kitchen Lighting

Adding wall sconces for kitchen lighting is a unique way to showcase what makes your kitchen light special, such as highlighting a piece of artwork. And sconces can also help with ambient light. Try low-voltage fixtures for your kitchen light wall sconces.
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Think in ThreesBondRocketImages/Shutterstock

Think in Threes

Instead of one main kitchen light, try three identical hanging pendant fixtures over the center of the kitchen. Pendants come in a variety of styles from classic to modern, and bulbs of various wattage can be used, depending on the amount of kitchen lighting you need.
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The Power of Track LightingUSJ/Shutterstock

The Power of Track Lighting

No one wants to work in their own shadow, so this is where track kitchen lighting comes in. In fact, track lighting is rising in popularity as an overhead lighting source because it's available in energy efficient options. But it also allows you to position each light to customize your space. Installing track lighting is a project that can be completed in a weekend.
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Glam Up Your CenterpieceEkachai Sathittaweechai/Shutterstock

Glam Up Your Centerpiece

Don't be afraid to go big when replacing a kitchen light centerpiece. Whether it's a classic chandelier or something reflective of your eclectic style, a big, bold piece in the center of the kitchen will make a statement.
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When Less is MoreJR-stock/Shutterstock

When Less is More

When considering your main overhead kitchen lighting options, light designers say there is such a thing as too much. Try to keep to one main bold piece, or two to three pendants over an area. Competing hanging fixtures can make a kitchen look cluttered. And if more lighting is needed for work spaces, try affordable track lighting or under-cabinet lights.
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Open Shelf Lightingromakoma/Shutterstock

Open Shelf Lighting

If your kitchen has open shelves, add LED strip lights or puck lights to the back or underneath the shelves. This will create light to highlight objects on the shelves.
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Be Mindful of ColorBreadmaker/Shutterstock

Be Mindful of Color

When choosing your fixtures, think about the color of your kitchen. Since white reflects light, if you have a lot of white in your kitchen you may be able to lower the wattage of bulbs. But those with darker kitchen lighting may need more wattage.
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A Light in the Dark

Have a space that's always dark, such as the back of a cabinet or pantry? Install a motion sensor that will activate a puck or LED light when the door is opened. This will help you find that pot you need, or that spice that's hard to see in the dark cabinet.
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A Simple Makeoverbmphotographer/Shutterstock

A Simple Makeover

If you have recessed can lights and want an update, try recessed can converters, which are as easy as screwing in a lightbulb. This will allow you to add stylish pendants for a simple kitchen lighting makeover. And before you get started, read up on the top 10 electrical mistakes and how to prevent them.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.

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