Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Optimal Placement of Recessed Lights in Your Kitchen

Gabriela Connell
2 minute read

Transforming your kitchen with perfectly placed recessed lighting can make a world of difference. The right lighting layout highlights your beautiful cabinetry, island, and décor while providing ideal illumination for food preparation and dining.

With recessed lighting, also known as can or high-hat lighting, fixtures are set into the ceiling to create an unobtrusive, seamless look. When planned properly, recessed lights distribute light evenly throughout the space and prevent glare.

Careful Planning is Key

The first step in placing recessed lighting is understanding the size, layout, and lighting needs of your kitchen. Consider existing windows, skylights, and fixtures when deciding on placement.

where to place recessed lights in kitchen

While it may seem formulaic at first, correctly installing recessed lighting requires creativity blended with precise positioning. You want lights centered over key workstations, islands, and cabinets while avoiding beams, vents, and details.

Recommended Number of Recessed Lights

As a general guideline, small kitchens under 150 square feet need 8-10 evenly spaced recessed lights. For medium 150-350 square foot kitchens, plan for 12-16 fixtures. In larger gourmet kitchens, 20 or more recessed lights create uniform illumination.

Space standard 5-6 inch recessed lights approximately 4-5 feet apart for consistent coverage. Mini can lights can be placed a little closer together at 3-4 feet intervals.

Positioning Recessed Ceiling Lights

When installing recessed lighting, ensure lights are logically centered over sinks, stoves, islands, and dining nooks where they’re most needed. This provides ideal task lighting for food preparation.

Avoid placing recessed fixtures directly next to architectural elements like beams, vents, or skylights. Adjust placement so lights align cleanly with your kitchen’s lines and layout.

Illuminate Islands with Pendants

Islands are a focal point, so they deserve proper illumination. Mini-pendants and chandeliers with multiple bulbs make excellent island lighting. Position pendants 32-36 inches above the island counter to provide ideal task lighting.

When hanging pendant lights, place them over the edges of an island rather than dead center. Aligning pendants over the edges frames the island and provides light right where it’s needed most.

While recessed lights offer overall ambient illumination, additional lighting is key. Undercabinet LED strips provide directed task lighting on countertops and sinks. Mini accent lights highlight backsplashes, glass cabinet displays, and artwork.

By layering recessed, accent, pendant, and task lighting, you add beautiful dimension and visual interest to your kitchen. With smart lighting design, you can transform any kitchen into a welcoming, brightly lit gathering space.