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Kitchen Update

An Enlightened Way To Live

From Prometheus gifting fire to humanity to Thomas Edison inventing the light globe, the integration of light into our lives and homes continues to be a fundamental to our existence. The lighting fixtures chosen for your kitchen – the very heart of your home – offer both practical and aesthetic benefits that can transform your everyday life. Here, Amelia Mansell sits down with Allan Aitken, certified kitchen and bathroom designer at Kitchen Update, to shed a little light on the ins and outs of how to best illuminate your kitchen.

Kitchen Update
Kitchen Update
Kitchen Update

While natural light is a beautiful thing to have within your kitchen workspace, it is not always the most reliable of light sources when it comes to the daily machinations and needs of kitchen living. Ensuring that you incorporate functional as well as aesthetically pleasing light fixtures into your kitchen can assist in creating a space that is uniquely tailored you, and how you use your kitchen.


Gone are the days of the traditional lone pendant catering to the lighting needs of an entire kitchen. With the surge in popularity of recessed lighting, such as the now all-familiar downlight and other ingenious fixtures such as strip and display lighting, the ability to create a multi-dimensional space became all the more attainable. From cooking to entertaining, to setting an ambient mood for the accompanying open-living areas, your choice and combination of lighting fixtures ensure you are prepared for any task or occasion. “We regularly use downlights in combination with pendants as this gives our client’s more control over how bright or dimmed the lighting is, [and] also serves as mood lighting if the kitchen is part of an open-plan living and dining area.” Downlights and pendants each serve separate benefits within your kitchen space, Aitken explains; “Ceiling downlights give an overall feel to the light in a room, [whereas] a pendant gives more directed light to an island or peninsula bar”.

Kitchen Update

Under-cabinet strip lighting is a trending gamechanger in terms of functional lighting within your kitchen. Offering a touch of luxe living, this sleek lighting fixture is not only for aesthetics, but practical purposes. While downlights serve to illuminate the room as a whole, strip lighting installed on the underside of your upper cabinetry creates the perfect task-lighting for your kitchen workspaces – or even laundries and bathrooms. The rise in popularity of this style of lighting is part of the growing trend towards more task-oriented lighting with the world of kitchen design, “with a combination of different lights for different needs and jobs,” Aitken elaborates.

While your kitchen may have a strategic placement of downlights and statement pendants that illuminate the room, work areas such as your stovetop and oven are reliant on good rangehood lighting to make that task space a pleasurable and practical area to cook and entertain. “Good lighting from a rangehood is always an advantage especially if the fitting can have the light adjusted as the Qasair brand does,” Aitken says. Just as important as choosing lights to serve your daily purposes, ensuring you take time to consider your preferred light globe setting, such warm white, cool white and daylight, can create a significant impact upon the room and your usage of it.


With downlights doing the hard work in terms of light distribution in your kitchen and living areas, pendant and feature lights have garnered more attention for their ability to create a stunning stylistic statement within the room. Whether large or small, single or multiple, having a well-placed and well-chosen feature light can be the final touch that ties your aesthetic together. “Placement of a feature light depends upon the kitchen layout. Sometimes it is just one fitting, on other occasions [the layout] may need several smaller pendants.”

Kitchen Update

A single multi-headed pendant light or a long strip pendant can be the pièce de rèsistance for a generous island bench that needs to be lit up to perfection, or for those simply wishing to get maximum light from their statement feature, Aitken suggests. The breadth of these lighting fixture options offers a different appearance than the traditional line of drop pendants, and will ensure you find the perfect match for an asymmetrical kitchen layout or for homeowners wanting to draw attention to just how open their open-plan living area is. Coming in all shapes and sizes, statement lights are not only limited to those fortunate enough to have a large kitchen; simply choose a smaller or more delicate fitting, and even the most space-conscious of kitchens can have their feature moment.

With much time and effort going into the choice of shape, size, colour and placement of your feature lights, it can be a concern that including various other lights throughout your kitchen and living areas will detract from your carefully orchestrated lighting statement.

But rest assured, “most downlights are subtle once fitted, as they seem to merge into the ceiling when [turned] off. So therefore, [they] don’t distract from a feature fitting,” Aitken assures.


Your chosen lighting fixtures can also be utilised to show off the stunning qualities or design features of your kitchen. Running cabinet lighting through glass-fronted cabinets can create a beautiful display feature, or night-time ambiance within your home. “We use this to effect when we also incorporate glass shelving”, Aitken says, “as this allows the light to cover several layers”. From ultra-modern kitchens seeking that final touch of glamour, to traditional shaker-style designs, thinking outside the box – or in this case, inside it – can take your kitchen to another level.

The perhaps lesser-known sibling of the downlight is the concept of up-lighting your kitchen. Ideal for rooms featuring a raised, vaulted or coffered ceiling, lighting can be a powerful tool to highlight the foundational elements of your kitchen that make it truly unique. Aitken particularly enjoys up lighting coffered ceiling, using this lighting feature “in conjunction with either pendants or mood lighting” to bring together a design that delights the senses.

Kitchen Update

The choice of lighting within your kitchen is a decision that goes deep into the practicalities of your everyday life as well as the design layout and aesthetic of your kitchen. Finding this balance between function and form can be an undertaking, but with the constant advancements and options of how and where you can include lighting fixtures within your kitchen to give it the ‘wow’ factor and Aitken’s recommendation to tailor each of your lighting fixtures to a task-oriented purpose, you are sure to elevate your kitchen to new and enlightened heights.

Images courtesy of Kitchen Update.