/ Kitchen Styles

The Importance of Ample Illumination

A white kitchen with pendant lights, recessed lights and undercabinet lights.

This kitchen's well-planned lighting design combines pendant lights over the island and dining table with under cabinet lights and recessed ceiling lights, as well as large windows for plenty of natural light.

For safety reasons alone, good light matters in a chef's kitchen. "At work, I don't have shadows created by cabinets above the countertop," says Chef Duncan Firth. "You need constant light over the counter where you're working." He installed undercabinet lights — puck on one side, a strip on the other — in his kitchen at home to provide that light.

As Designer William Kent notes: "It is important to be able to distinguish your finger from a cornichon." Task lighting in the kitchen comes first to the chef, he says, particularly over the cutting board. Ideally, he says, a chef's kitchen should have multiple light sources with multiple controls or switches.


Kitchen sink with undercabinet lights overhead

Courtesy of Sea Gull Lighting

Undercabinet lights illuminate countertops, making it safe to handle sharp knives and other kitchen tools.


Designer Clare Donohue likes LED lights for under the cabinet. "Color balance has really improved, they run cool, and being called up by a client asking how to change a light bulb will become a thing of the past," she says. For overhead lighting, she suggests incandescent, halogen or MR16 lighting, depending in the kitchen's design style.