Task Lighting to Take Your Kitchen from Plain to Professional

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to be able to see in your kitchen. Even if your kitchen is only windows on the top of a hill with perfect sun viewing throughout the day, you need at least one light to be able to have an early breakfast or a late dinner. Task lighting doesn’t always look the prettiest, but it lets you use the room no matter what’s going on outside. Whether you need lights to see every dark corner of your kitchen or just enough to make a midnight sandwich, here are some task lights for you.

The Most Important Task Light

Notice them or not, basic overhead lights are critical to any kitchen (by Braitman Design Studio)

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You may not give them much thought, but your overhead lights are the most important task lighting you have. Task lighting is considered any lighting that has a specific, functional purpose instead of highlighting or accenting a space. To be able to use your kitchen at all, you need to be able to see it. Typically, the most efficient and least intrusive way to do this is with recessed lights. Can lights provide good, even coverage throughout your entire kitchen. But as long as it covers most of the room any type of overhead light will get the job done.

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Island in the Sun

Alanna Pendant, 31508/4 by Elk Lighting

Island-specific lighting is unique among task lights because of its strong decorative element. A nice island fixture draws attention and is very much an accent piece to any kitchen. But don’t mistake its beauty for a lack of functionality. The kitchen island is either where you prep your meals or where you eat them – or even both. An island benefits from more than just general kitchen lighting, and often needs more than just a strong, bright light. This is where a dimmer comes in handy. Your island area can be as bright as a professional kitchen while you’re cooking, then dimmed to the ambiance of a table in an atmospheric restaurant at dinnertime.

Keep an Eye on Your Cooking

Range hood lighting isn’t just practical, it’s also already built-in (by Kitchen Concepts, Inc.)

Task lighting over the stove may seem excessive if you typically only use your overhead lights to cook. But recently I’ve become a big fan of bright range hood lights due to quarantine cooking. There’s cooking by muscle memory and there’s cooking by sight, and if you’re trying an unfamiliar recipe you’re doing the latter. Having a well-lit stove is a huge advantage when trying to get your meal look like the picture, and can be the first warning sign that something’s about to burn before that too-late smell. A lot of range hoods come with lights installed, so adding task lighting here doesn’t require extra work if you have stovetop ventilation already. Either start using your range hood to its full potential or update your kitchen with a better, multipurpose one.

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See Your Entire Pantry

Strips of pantry lights keep your foods from being forgotten on their shelves (by Kristi Spouse Interiors)

Digging through a crammed pantry to find the ingredients you’re looking for is a hard enough task at regular visibility. In a dimly-lit or lightless pantry – even a small one – it can be a nightmare. Some pantries rely on a single overhead light, often with a pull chain. But this top-down approach will leave your lowest shelves in the dark. Adding lighting strips on the underside of each shelf will help brighten even the farthest back corners of the space, making more of your storage convenient to use.

Brighten Your Counters

Any workspace should have a dedicated task light, and your counters are no different (by Saikley Architects)

You can also use lighting strips under your kitchen cabinets to brighten your countertops. While less necessary than the other types to be able to see and use your countertops, good visibility goes a long way in how effectively you use them. Any place where you’re cutting vegetables benefits from being well-lit to avoid accidents in the kitchen. Also, with better lighting, you’ll find that you even use more of the given counter space. When you can see all the way back to the wall, you’ll realize how much of your counters were lost to shadows. Plus, if something stains or splatters, you can see it instantly to clean it instead of letting that glop of dinner hang out for a week.

With so many places to potentially put lights, there’s no reason to use your kitchen in the dark. Whether you use the space to entertain, or just want to keep your kitchen looking open and orderly, adding one or more new sources of light can chase back shadows and help improve the ambiance of your kitchen – not to mention making it safer, too!