Smart Ways to Light Up Your Kitchen

Over recent years, the kitchen has became the hub of the home with most people extending or knocking down walls to create the perfect open plan living/kitchen/dining experience. Quite often, people are too pre-occupied finding the perfect sink, space saving technique or colour scheme and often forget about lighting. While all of those factors are super important… lighting can transform a kitchen and getting it right is absolutely critical.

If you’re anything like me, your Pinterest is full of kitchen ideas ranging from different ways to fit an island into your space to DIY hacks and storage solutions to the colour and material of your worktops, cupboards and splash-backs. However I bet not many of you have really thought about the small, technical details that can really make a difference to the way you use your kitchen and also add to the final look. The role of the kitchen has certainly evolved and is now one of the most important rooms in the home so why not put that same importance into ensuring you have a lighting scheme which is packed full of ways to improve the functionality of your kitchen and make daily life simpler.

There are many locations in which lighting can be used and if it’s done well, it can change the feel of your kitchen as well as creating a great atmosphere. Before I get into the different types of lighting, I want to show you a picture showing just how effective it can be…


Before – only ceiling downlights have been used

After – featuring the use of plinth, under cabinet, shelf lighting and the midway hanging rail!

Under Cabinet Lighting

This is probably our most popular section and something that people usually look at first when delving into the world of kitchen lighting. Under cupboard lighting is a great way to illuminate your worktops which makes for a fantastic task light when preparing food. Depending on the look you’re going for and how much light you require, the 2 options are spot lights or strip lighting. A rule of thumb when trying to figure out how many spot lights to buy is usually to have a light under each cupboard or similar to the image above; having a light in the middle of each double door. However, there is no real right or wrong way to do this as it depends on the look you’re going for, the size and layout of your kitchen and the intended use of the lights.

In my opinion, if you’re wanting a more ambient light then go for strip lighting and maybe even a dimming switch or remote control to allow you to adjust the brightness. If you’re wanting the lights to be used for task lighting so you can read your recipe books, chop up food or make a feature out of an appliance on your worktop then go for spot lighting as this will give you a more concentrated light.

Sensio Arrow SLS Strip Light

Our most popular under cabinet spot light has got to be the Quadra range by Sensio Lighting; the biggest seller is the Quadra Plus however these are limited on stock as they have been upgraded to the SLS version which is quick on the heels of its predecessor and features a much sleeker and stylish design.

If you’re looking for something that’s seriously smart then why not go for the SensioSound which is an LED light combined with a speaker. This features Bluetooth connectivity allowing you to play your music whilst cooking or entertaining as well as keeping surfaces tidy from external devices.

Sensio Bluetooth Speaker Light

Plinth Lighting

Again with plinth lighting, a popular choice is to have a run of strip lighting. As above, this can be used to create a seamless wash of light adding a beautiful atmospheric finish to your kitchen. If you’re not keen on seeing the LED ‘dots’ then you can purchase an aluminium profile which features a frosted cover to give off a diffused light. Profiles can either be surface mounted or recessed into the plinth depending on the look and style you’re wanting to create.

Another choice which is becoming increasingly popular is to use separate plinth lights and spacing them out along the plinth (see below) They can be used to add dimension and depth to the room and are used for decorative purposes rather than having a functional use.

Shelf Lighting

There are 2 versions of shelf lighting available; clip lights, which basically clip onto an existing glass shelf, or a glass shelf which features an integrated LED strip light. The most popular option is the shelf clip light as they’re easy enough to install. This type of lighting is only really effective or needed if you have a glass fronted cupboard, if you do, then this can make a real statement in your kitchen. Mood lighting is often overlooked however has the biggest impact so it’s definitely something that is worth investing in. You can use two of the lengths side by side if you have longer units and link them both to the same driver to avoid unnecessary amounts of cable to hide.

Sensio Edge clip on shelf light

The second option is an external glass shelf which is a great choice if you want to introduce subtle lighting whilst adding additional storage space. In my opinion, this looks better in a modern kitchen which features high gloss surfaces as they are only available in cool white.

In Cabinet Lighting

Illuminating the inside of your cupboards provides a beautiful added extra in your kitchen which can only improve the ease of use. This convenient type of lighting often includes a PIR sensor meaning the lights will automatically come on once the doors are opened and turn off once the doors are closed; practical and stylish. You can choose from battery powered or low voltage in-cabinet light fittings depending on whether you can run a cable to your mains supply or not.

In cabinet lights can also make a great addition if you have glass fronted cupboards. You can place an LED spot light at the top of the unit to illuminate the glassware or crockery inside the cabinet and make a feature of them instead of hiding them away.

You can also use this type of lighting to illuminate deep pan drawers. These LED fittings run at such a low wattage you can illuminate the full drawer stack and run them from one driver/transformer. Alternatively, you can consider the battery powered options if wiring to the mains supply from your drawers is a major job.

Over Cabinet Lighting

To introduce mood lighting into your kitchen you can run flexible strip lighting above wall units to up light the ceiling, adding depth to the room. Alternatively, you can add an over cabinet light to illuminate the door fronts and make them a feature. Using an over cabinet light could be used instead of an in cabinet light if it’s easier for you to hide drivers and cables above a cabinet rather than inside. They won’t have quite the same function or effect however once the door is opened they should light your cupboard up enough if in cabinet lighting isn’t a viable option for your kitchen.

Purchase the Quadra mounting bracket to transform the SLS Quadra into an over cabinet light

Choosing your Colour Temperature

Last but by no means least is picking the colour temperature which best suits your kitchen. This is quite possibly one of the most important aspects when choosing your kitchen lighting and one of the first questions you should ask yourself when deciding on going ahead with a lighting scheme for your kitchen. The 2 main options are cool white or warm white – some manufacturers also deal with natural white however this is usually only available on a limited number of products.

Warm white is basically the closest match to a normal halogen fitting so has yellow tones whereas cool white is a more clinical type of light and has a very white finish with a slight blue undertone. The image below provides an insight into what they look like and give a good idea as to what style of kitchen they are usually catered for.

Sensio have put together a fantastic guide to help you choose which colour temperature to go for depending on the overall style and the type of worktops and door finishes you have. This isn’t set in stone so don’t worry if you have a really modern kitchen but prefer warm white – at the end of the day, the decision is yours and it’s all about the look you prefer. After all, you’re the one who is going to be living with the kitchen for many years to come so it has to be something you love rather than what someone has advised you to do.

I’ll leave you with a few examples Sensio have provided to show how a lighting scheme can look in a traditional or contemporary kitchen…

A traditional kitchen using strip lighting on the plinths, under cabinet spot lights and in cabinet lights

A contemporary kitchen using over and under cabinet strip lighting, separate plinth lights as well as in cabinet and drawer lighting

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