5 spot on kitchen task lighting tips you need to know (and 5 kitchen lighting mistakes you should absolutely avoid)


With the kitchen now a multifunctional space in most homes, it’s really no wonder that lighting is causing confusion. We want our kitchens to accommodate statement lighting fixtures, and be equipped with suitable task lighting, as well as dining lighting and ambient lighting for eating, relaxing and entertaining.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to lighting and getting all of the required levels of lighting in the kitchen right isn’t an easy task (it’s called layering).

When it comes to lighting, the unfortunate mistake many people make when fitting out their kitchen is to choose style over substance. Getting carried away with form and forgetting about functionality is the biggest oversight made when it comes to kitchen lighting.

Statement lighting, cool pendants and up-lighters all make the kitchen appear as though it is a dream to work in. But, when kitchen lighting isn’t thought through properly, the worktops you most use to prep food can be left gloomy and drab.

Prepping food without sufficient lighting takes the joy out of any task. The precision cutting of julienne vegetables, careful mixing of cake ingredients and attentive stirring of a risotto are just some of the tasks made easier with the right kind of lighting. With sufficient task lighting chopping veg with a sharp knife is safer too.

A great lighting plan will make all the difference to your kitchen and how you work in it. Find out more about how to create a layered kitchen lighting scheme here. And here’s a recap of exactly what task lighting is and 5 bright and brilliant tips for getting task lighting in the kitchen spot on.

What is task lighting?

Task lighting refers to the brightest lights, which generally target the main working areas in the kitchen, such as the worktops, the cooker top (hob) and the sink. We need task lighting because it isn’t efficient to provide the same amount of light across the whole of a room.

Great choices are under-cupboard downlighters, flexible LED strip lighting (can also be mounted on the underside of cupboards to highlight a worktop), or ceiling mounted lights with directional spots. Rise and fall lighting is another great option in the kitchen and works particularly well over kitchen islands and dining areas. For examples of rise and fall lighting and other great kitchen lighting ideas see Universal’s kitchen light range here.

5 light-loving tips to make cooking in your kitchen a dream


  1. Think about lighting at the planning stage

The biggest mistake people make with their kitchen remodel is to leave lighting out of the planning equation. But, leave lighting decisions to the last minute and you will be limiting lighting possibilities. Task lighting you would like built into cabinetry won’t happen if you don’t specify this requirement at the planning stage. All electrical work needs to be done prior to the installation of your new cabinetry.

  1. Think carefully about how you use your kitchen

It’s really tricky when planning a new kitchen or giving your existing kitchen a makeover to make decisions about how to make the best use of space and create a workable kitchen triangle or an equivalent. Even if you aren’t starting from scratch, you can still change the way you use your space to make it more efficient and easy to use.

Think about where you will be preparing food and make this area the focus for task lighting. Don’t forget you will need sufficient lighting over your stovetop too. Take natural lighting into consideration. It’s nice, for example, to have the sink in front of a window. Uniform task lighting works best.

  1. Consider positioning and glare

It’s important to consider lighting in the context of your kitchen. Worktops with a highly reflective surface will create glare. Any task lighting should ideally be positioned above your head and out of your eyes. The light source should never be in your direct line of sight.

  1. Think about lighting control

How you control your lighting is just as important as the lighting itself. A dimmer control is a good way to make your task lighting multi-functional from bright lighting for tasks to low lighting for a relaxing ambience.

  1. Precision matters

Where you install your task lighting is also important. A ceiling light source illuminating a worktop without a wall cabinet above it should be 60 cm away from the wall. With wall cabinets obscuring part of the worktop, any ceiling task lights should be approx. 100 cm away from the wall. This will minimise shadows from the wall cabinet.

Rail systems for spot lighting work well in the kitchen. Many of these lighting system enable you to angle lights ensuring they illuminate your worktops in exactly the right areas. Where you have wall cabinets over the worktop, the best form of task lighting is under cabinet lighting.

Avoid these 5 common blunders to give your kitchen the glow it deserves.

  1. Not understanding the importance of layering
  2. Not enough lights
  3. Forgetting about task lighting altogether
  4. Under or oversized fixtures
  5. Installing lighting that is too harsh

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About Mike James

Mike James
Mike James is a writer by trade, specialising largely in cybersecurity professionally - and then the home (kitchen) leisurely. Based in Brighton, Mike is a design connoisseur and big time foodie - appreciating a fine, single malt whisky on the odd (frequent) occasion.

  Email:  Mike James


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