Lighting Wow: Kitchens


A few weeks ago I began a series on lighting design starting out with how to design lighting for the Dining Room. Today we are talking about lighting for your Kitchen, not only the decorative fixtures shown here but how to layout the recessed fixtures as well. Above, two fabulous sheer drum lights cover crystal chandeliers for some serious wow factor. Recessed lights were placed under the soffit to shine light onto the counter tops. Begin by looking at the room as a whole when creating a lighting plan.


I wanted to share a reflected ceiling plan with you, it is a technical term for a drawing which shows the items that are located on the ceiling of a room. It is the method I use when designing the lighting placement. Don’t worry if you cannot draw, you will be drawing circles where the fixtures will be to help you visualize where you need light. I have created hundreds of reflected ceiling plans and I promise you it is not as hard as it looks. If you have a floor plan, tape a piece of tracing paper over the kitchen. Start with the Wow Factor lights. For example; decide if there will be pendents over the island and how many, or a central fixture in the room such as a chandelier or will there be a combination of a chandelier over the dining table and pendents over the island? Making these decisions first will help determine the placement of the recessed lights.


Looking at the plan, the open circles represents where the recessed fixtures will be and the circle with the cross through it represents pendent lights. Smaller circles in the bay window represent a smaller recessed fixture.  Even if you are working with an interior designer this is basic lighting design information that is good to know, read more. Next you will need to create a switching plan; which fixtures lead to which switch and are they on dimmers. You will also need to decide if you want under cabinet lights or any lights in the cabinets, Bright Lightz  is a good source. This kitchen below shows the combination of recessed lights, pendents, cabinet lighting and under cabinet lighting. Wow.


Ok, enough technical lets get back to the fun part, selecting fabulous fixtures. Here is an example of a single statement piece above the island that complements the fabulous ceiling detail and ambient lighting.



l1 People ask me all the time what I prefer to see over islands, multiple lights or a single fixture? The answer depends on several factors starting out with what I think will look best with the cabinets, the architecture and the overall style I am creating in the kitchen. I also want to LOVE what is going over the island because it becomes a focal point in the room. The fixture to the left is a favorite of mine because it is a double light but is one fixture providing a clean line with the most stunning glass. Below, lanterns in a natural iron finish are hung farther apart to allow for two small recessed fixtures in between. Over the dining table some serious wow factor lighting.


I wanted to end with a kitchen that created a wow factor with lighting both planned and natural. A bold choice in quantity and scale but a real wow factor result. These sleek, modern drum lights complement the urban setting perfectly. Recessed lights are also present to create an even light level. Check out that spectacular skylight and ceiling detail that maximizes the natural light during the day. Lighting design can truly bring your rooms to life.


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  • Vanessa Lund

    Great post on lighting. I love these gorgeous light fixtures they are making now. Lovely pics.

    • Cathy Wolfram

      Thanks Vanessa,lighting for the kitchen seems to be the most challenging for my clients so I tried to break it down to simple DIY interior design steps.

  • Dawn Thomas Inman

    I agree with Vanessa…there are SO MANY really great lighting options to choose from these days! I’ve wanted to replace many throughout my new town home from the ones put in by the builder, as I think it makes a HUGE difference in the charm of a room. I’ve decided to start with a chandelier over my dining room table, but I’m so chicken to try the wiring part myself. So, I was thinking I would get an electrician or handy man to come do it for me. I’m so excited!! Any suggestions about where I can look for a good deal?

    • Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Hi Dawn, sounds like a plan I find Bellacor and Lamps Plus online are excellent sources. Ask for a coupon or discount. So nice to meet you.

  • Connie

    Other sites show lovely pictures, but your site gives such professional information, in addition to fabulous examples, it’s like taking a design course. Thank you so much.

    • Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Thanks Connie, I am so glad the information is helpful.

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  • Andrea

    It is so uncanny that you posted this today. I am having such trouble choosing lighting for our home office. We are doing a design similar to the 2 person office you have on your blog. We are making it a 3 person office since we both work at home and our daughter likes to “work” with us and she will eventually do her homework in here with us. I’m having such a tough time choosing lighting. I’ll keep my eyes out for a future blog post from you on home office lighting!

    • Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Andrea sounds like our home office, over crowded. I will post about home office lighting in a few weeks but can tell you the best solution for an even light level is a recessed lighting. For a typical 10 x 12 size, six to eight fixtures depending on the size and be sure to use par 20 bulbs. They look the most like day light. Hope this helps.