Planning Your Kitchen Lighting – 8 Easy Steps

1.  Set a budget.  Think about what you can afford and don’t forget to account for costs of labor if you end up having to hire an electrician.

2.  Find out what your current circuit in the kitchen can handle.  In order to do this, multiply the amps by the volts.  Most circuits have 120 volts.  So if your circuit was 15 amps, you’d multiply 15×120.  That amounts to 1800 – the total number of watts your kitchen circuit can handle.  It’s a good rule of thumb to use your circuit up to 80 percent of its capacity.

3.  Consider the condition of your current wiring.  If you’re in an older home, you might consider rewiring the room (this is where you should contact an electrician if you don’t have experience).

4. Now comes the fun part: decide what you want to change.  Think about areas you would like to add more light to and brainstorm design styles that you love.

5. Start with the overhead light fixtures.  Most people have at least some recessed fixtures for kitchens.  They distribute the lighting nicely, and they’re a great first “layer” of light to establish.   You can also consider pendant lights for general overhead lighting.  Even though the light source is more focused, several pendant lights that are grouped together can add a stylish touch to the room.  They’re also often less expensive than chandeliers.

6. Move onto task lightingUnder cabinet lights are essential and are available in xenon, halogen, fluorescent, and LED.  If you’re looking for a dimmable light, make sure to go with xenon or halogen – the other sources don’t have that functionality.   Areas over the sink and island also call for extra task lighting.  Pendants are helpful in those spaces as well.

7. Accent lighting is your next stepOver cabinet lighting can create a pleasant aesthetic effect.  Wall sconces are usually unexpected in the kitchen, but they add an interesting element of design.  Even bringing a small lamp into the corner of the kitchen can help.  The key is to create several different layers of light.

8. Assess your newly-lit kitchen and decide if the lighting is adequate.  Don’t forget to share the pictures of your end results on our Customer Lighting Projects page!

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

3 thoughts to “Planning Your Kitchen Lighting – 8 Easy Steps”

  1. I cannot still get how to plan recess lighting in an older home which has prior middle of the room fixtures. Can you remove and there just add maybe a fan or is a fan/light combo work with pot lights that are dimming??

  2. I am not sure what it means”my reply is awaiting moderation??

    I have a 70’s home with 8 foot ceilings. I have opened the old dining room and kitchen up to each other. Each area has a light fixture in the center of the ceiling. I wish to update the room. I would love to add potlights but wonder how to handle over the table and also should I just add a fan/fanlight to old middle spot or is it important to the look to just keep it to potlights and fix the ceiling and remove evidence of old fixtures. Thanks for any advise. The rooms are 10×12 in the work area and 18×15 in the seating area of the kitchen.

  3. Hi Karen,
    Sorry about that. We get a lot of spam in the comments section, so we have to set it up so that each comment is approved by an administrator before publishing.

    Thanks for your question!

    Honestly, the fan/fanlight and recessed light combo versus just recessed lights is totally a personal preference. There’s not really a rule that says you should do one above the other – and I’ve seen both in photos of beautiful interior design. Have you heard of They have hundreds of thousands of interior & exterior photos for remodeling inspiration. I would suggest searching through their galleries and looking at examples of both to decide which look you like better.

    Here’s an example of a kitchen with a fan + pot lights: I know that’s more of a modern style, but the combo still looks great! Here’s another:—Paiko-Lagoon-Oasis-tropical-kitchen-hawaii

    And here’s one with recessed lighting only:

    My personal opinion is that mixing up the light fixtures is more visually interesting! I like your fan/light combo with recessed lighting idea.

    Let me know if I can help with anything else.

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