A good lighting scheme is a crucial element of any kitchen—as well as illuminating work spaces in this most action-oriented of rooms, lighting will set the mood in a kitchen-cum-dining room. Light should be used where required in a kitchen—so a bank of downlights on the ceiling isn't enough. Think in terms of layers—lights at different heights—and zones—highlighting each functional zone in the room.
Ceiling spotlights can be angled to highlight certain areas and obscure others. The key is to position them so that the spotlights are never shining directly into your eyes. We can see here that the spotlights are cleverly arranged so that their full glare is away from both the work space and the breakfast bar, and are used to light the oven and to highlight the wall decorations. Super low-hanging pendants very effectively zone off the breakfast bar from the worktop, as they're tightly focused on the breakfast bar.
In rooms with high ceilings, uplights that illuminate either cuboards or ceilings will create a sense of space. The light reflecting off surfaces will add brightness, meaning you need fewer downlights. Using uplighting like this can obviate the need for ceiling lights altogether.
Use lighting to create different zones in your kitchen—work zones and dining zones. If you have a kitchen island that functions as breakfast bar and workspace, pendant lights hanging low over the island will provide enough light to work by while also creating a pleasantly lit space to linger in at breakfast in the morning.
Under-shelf lighting, or lights recessed into cupboards, are the ideal choice for task lighting. Recessed lights won't get in the way, and will stop your shadow from obscuring the worktop. Lights over or near cookers should be flush with the surface they're recessed in, making them easy to wipe clean. Glass covered lights are ideal for this. Low-watt modern LEDs don't give off much heat, which will both save money and keep cupboards, shelves and the food stored in them from getting too warm.
Consider varying the warmth of the bulbs you use over task spaces and dining spaces. Cooler light over a worktop will mark it out as a space of work, while making a warmer light over a dining space seem even cosier by contrast. Fitting low-watt LED bulbs throughout your kitchen will mean you can have a multitude of lights with low cost and low environmental impact.
Uplights in drop ceilings are increasingly popular, and are extremely effective in subtly reinforcing zones in the kitchen. We can see here that the under-cupboard lights provide illumination for tasks, but the uplights in the ceiling extend that space out by a couple of feet, creating an invisible 'line' that takes in both the worktop and the space you'll be moving around in while you work. This idea could equally be applied to a dropped ceiling over a dining table or breakfast bar.
Think of your kitchen lighting in terms of at least three staggered heights—ceiling, pendant, and under-cupboard. The three steps can be added to—for example with uplights on cupboards—but you'll need at least three to effectively create zones and atmosphere. A mix and match of styles can work well, too.
Pendant lights are an opportunity to go a little bold, stylistically, in the kitchen. General and task lighting should be oriented toward getting the job done, but a pendant can be more playful. The baroque filigree of this pendant is in fun contrast to the practical task and ceiling lights. Using a number of different light sources in a kitchen will create a three dimensional feel, and give you control over the mood in the room. Each light should have its own switch or dimmer, allowing you to transition the space from day to night, or work to play.
For more ideas on lighting your home, take a peek at this ideabook.