13 Lighting Ideas for Small Kitchens

pendant lights in kitchens

Desiree Burns

Your small kitchen deserves to shine—literally! "Like any room in your home, creating layers of lighting from the ceiling down is imperative," designer Amy Youngblood says. "This is true especially for a small kitchen—if it is not well lit, it will look even smaller."

So how can you easily introduce plenty of functional lighting into your pint sized cooking space? We spoke with designers who weighed in on everything from the benefits of statement lighting to minimalistic solutions.

  • 01 of 13

    Install Statement Lighting

    statement lighting

    JLK Interiors

    Why not go big with an oversized lighting piece? Designer Paige Gray urges homeowners to do just that in the kitchen. "I'd opt for a statement lighting piece that doubles as a piece of art," she notes. "Not only does it do a great job of lighting a small space by casting multi-directional light, but it makes for a beautiful centerpiece that's interesting to look at."

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  • 02 of 13

    Try a Little Lamp

    small kitchen lighting

    Reema Desai for Heather DiSabella

    Placing a tiny lamp on the countertop is another option if you're in need of extra light. Just be sure to opt for a lamp with a small footprint, anything too large will just be cumbersome, especially if your kitchen is already short on square footage.

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  • 03 of 13

    Hang a Trio of Intricate Pendants

    pendant lights in kitchen

    Murphy Maude Interiors

    Whether you install one pendant light or several is your call—though designer Leslie Murphy is a proponent of going with three, even in a smaller sized kitchen, as she did in the space shown here. "For a compact space, I'd incorporate a trio of pendants above the counter," she comments. "It provides just the right amount of light above where you'll be preparing and cooking food." But the benefits go beyond the practical, she notes. "It's also a great way to add a bit of personality, glamour, and style in an otherwise confined space."  

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  • 04 of 13

    Try Some Globe-Shaped Pendants

    globe pendant

    Seth Caplan for DATE Interiors

    Designer Molly Torres opted for this style of lighting in a recent kitchen project, pictured here. "Globe pendant lights are a favorite for compact kitchens because they have a large impact with a relatively small footprint," she explains.

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  • 05 of 13

    Don't Forget About Under-Cabinet Lighting

    under cabinet lighting

    Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions

     "This is crucial for work spaces, so use an LED strip to illuminate the countertop," designer Roz Murphy advises.

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  • 06 of 13

    Pick the Right Color Temperature

    pendant light

    Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions

    This is a key detail to make note of, designer Karen Harautuneian shares. "Make sure that the color temperature of the lamping in all of the fixtures is the same," she explains. "We use warm dimmable 2700 K LED fixtures for the recessed ceiling fixtures and for the under-cabinet lighting. We pair the LED fixtures with standard incandescent or 2700 K LED bulbs in both the decorative wall fixtures and ceiling pendants."

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  • 07 of 13

    Pay Attention to Scale

    oversized light fixture

    Jane Beiles for Design Lines Signature

    After all, you want to ensure that the fixture you choose doesn't look out of place in your small kitchen. "If you use a fixture that is too heavy in proportion or large in scale it will dominate the room," Harautuneian explains. "On the flip side, the use of a small decorative fixture in a small room makes the room look even smaller."

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  • 08 of 13

    Use Lighting to Define Distinct Spaces

    lighting over table

    Jane Beiles for Georgia Zikas Design

    Here, in this space by Georgia Zikas Design, a pendant light helps make this small kitchen's breakfast nook feel as though it's a separate room, even though it's actually part of the narrow gallery kitchen.

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  • 09 of 13

    Light Some Candles

    candles in corner

    @mariannesides / Instagram

    Whether you opt for real flames or faux candles is up to you, but we love the touch of romance that candlelight brings to a small kitchen. This corner nook is the perfect place for a little extra flicker or light.

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  • 10 of 13

    Also Include Task Lighting

    task lighting in kitchen

    Avery Nicole Photography for Kristin Marino

    "It’s also important to include task lighting, such as over the sink, to provide adequate light when performing everyday tasks," designer Kristin Marino notes. After all, the dishes won't scrub themselves!

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  • 11 of 13

    Add Warmth With Sconces

    sconces in kitchen

    @mycityapartment / Instagram

    If your small kitchen also doubles as a seating area, warm up that portion of the room by hanging a sconce or two on the wall.

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  • 12 of 13

    Make Minimalistic Choices

    neutral pendant lights

    Lindye Galloway

    According to designer Lindye Galloway, "Small kitchens tend to look best with a minimalistic lighting design." For Galloway, this means choosing subdued colors. "Neutral colored flush mounts or pendants help illuminate the room without taking away from the space. In addition, these lighting fixtures assist in distributing light evenly throughout."

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  • 13 of 13

    Try a Larger Table Lamp

    table lamp on books

    @karinalamarener / Instagram

    If you don't have many appliances that take up space on the counter, you can always opt for a table lamp that's a bit more substantial in size. We like how this one is set atop some cookbooks so that not an inch of space goes to waste!