How to light a kitchen effectively

Kitchens are complex spaces that perform many functions, and they need to do it effortlessly. A layered kitchen lighting scheme is key to achieving that - these are the essentials to consider, whether your space is small or spacious.


All kitchens need a bright overhead light to make everyday tasks easy. Pendant lights are one solution. These have the added advantage of making your space look polished, thanks to the elegant shapes and materials on offer. Our Joel and Ginestra designs are pared-down metal bell shades in soft neutral colours: they not only harmonise with all styles of décor, but also look great hung in rows and clusters. For a smaller kitchen, one pendant may be enough - providing it diffuses a wide enough pool of light - but for most spaces, multiples are more functional. Groups of lights can also echo rows of kitchen cabinets and deliver a sense of rhythm and flow, which is especially important if you have a long, galley-style kitchen.

If ceilings are low, flush fittings have a similar effect without getting in the way. Our Taiko design is a curved bell shape in spun steel that casts a broad pool of light, with no glare thanks to its white polycarbonate diffuser. It appears to float just below the ceiling, adding visual lightness to small or dark kitchens.

Track lighting

A track system is a space-saving alternative to pendants. It gives a modern, uncluttered look while taking care of many lighting needs in one go. Our track configurator makes planning a custom arrangement easy: a simple row, L-shape or U-shape with angled spotlights to illuminate worktops, or a complete rectangle over an island. As well as powerful task lighting, you'll gain much-needed ceiling space, so things like hanging pan racks can be installed in between the tracks. As with all track lighting, plan the placement carefully, so it doesn't interfere with the opening of cabinet doors and appliances.

Lighting for worktops

This is where the layering aspect of kitchen lighting really comes into play. A lot depends on whether your space has wall cupboards or open shelves. With cupboards, the best approach is often a row of ceiling downlights or spotlights. Position them in front of cabinets to ensure your whole worktop is effectively lit, and don't neglect potentially shadowy areas, such as corners. Our Ascoli and Koto light bars come with a number of different spotlights so you can find the right mix to suit your space.

There's a growing trend for open shelves in kitchens, which has a visually light, relaxed feel. In this scenario, stylish wall lights are the perfect choice, as they complement the sophisticated look of display shelves. Choose adjustable fittings and place them where they won't obstruct workspace and small appliances. Our Imari wall light pivots smoothly and is compact enough to be placed around shelves. Pair it with Ginestra or Osca for a more layered effect - just keep colours the same throughout.

In kitchens where you need discreet lighting - perhaps because space is restricted, or to place the focus on furniture - recessed downlights are a great solution. Our Minima and Trimless collections are thoughtfully designed to eliminate the glare often associated with downlights, and the mini versions of both designs cater for compact kitchens. Consider the beam width of lamps when planning how they'll be spaced.


Lighting above an island can bring together an entire kitchen look. As it's linear in arrangement, it will complement the streamlined appearance of cabinetry. Fittings should be scaled in proportion with the island; ensure edges aren't left in shadow. This could mean a single linear light, such as our iO Pendant 1000, or a pair over a square island. Rows of pendants are equally elegant - choose compact Hashira or expansive Ginestra depending on the island's size. Also, remember that uneven numbers of lights are considered more visually pleasing.

Materials and dimmers

For practicality's sake, always choose materials that are easy to wipe clean, unless they're positioned well away from cooking zones. In addition, kitchen lighting should always be dimmable, so you can adjust the mood for dining and entertaining.

Discover our complete range of kitchen and indoor lighting online now at astrolighting.com.

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