kitchen lighting design guidelines

Kitchen lighting needs to be brighter than in other rooms of a house. A footcandle is the measurement standard for the amount of light in 1 square foot of light. Kitchens need up to 50 footcandles while a bedroom needs only 25 and a living room needs 35. The kitchen lighting design guidelines should provide ample specialized illumination over work stations as well as overhead kitchen lights for general lighting.


If you think of kitchen lighting design in layers, the top layer is the ceiling lights. To provide adequate overall lighting, factor in the placement of the lights to achieve evenly-distributed ambient lighting across the entire ceiling. A light typically provides coverage for up to four times its ceiling height. A light in a 10-foot tall ceiling would cover 40 square feet of floor space. The use of baffles and reflectors changes the size and shape of the lighted area.

kitchen lighting design guidelines

Task Lights

Task lights double the brightness over workspaces, such as the range and the food preparation area. This second layer of lighting may be in the ceiling, suspended or mounted under cabinets. Typically a well-placed task light covers three times its height above the mounting area. For best results, place task lighting so it is directly over the workspace and in front of where you stand. Improperly placed task lights not according to kitchen lighting design guidelines may cause shadows, which diminishes their effectiveness.

kitchen task lighting

Accent Lights

Many kitchens have displays or special areas that serve as the focal point of the room. Small, strategically-placed accent lights can draw the eye toward these areas. Of the lighting design layers, accent lighting should be the smallest. Spot light fixtures allow you to pinpoint the light exactly where you want it. If you prefer, directional ceiling lights are also suitable. In some instances, accent lights may project light upward, which gives the effect of washing a wall in light.

kitchen accent lighting

Energy Efficiency

Fluorescent lighting has been a favorite choice for kitchen light fixtures for many years and is energy efficient. Older incandescent fixtures accommodate compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs that also help save on energy costs. Incorporate energy efficiency into kitchen lights by adding dimmer switches for when full lights aren’t necessary. Install occupancy sensors that turn the lights off when no one is using the kitchen. Select low-voltage task and accent lights for further energy efficiency. We hope that the kitchen lighting design guidelines above can help you to remodel your kitchen lighting.

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