Low ceilings in the kitchen can be cozy and save on energy costs.
However, low ceilings in the kitchen can create quite a lighting design dilemma making the space dark and confined.
Master the art of lighting placement, and you will maximize the functionality of a kitchen with a low ceiling using these genius lighting ideas.
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What is considered a low kitchen ceiling?
Before we get started, let’s ensure we are all on the same page.
What is considered a low kitchen ceiling?
If you are residing under 8 feet of ceiling clearance or less, then by today’s standards, your home has low ceilings.
Let’s get technical. The International Code Council, which sets residential building standards, states that habitable spaces and corridors shall have a minimum ceiling height of 7ft 6″ above the finished floor.
The bathrooms, kitchens, storage, and laundry shall have a standard ceiling height of 7ft above the finished floor.
4 Types of Interior Lighting
Who can remember when General Electric, aka GE’s, the slogan was “We bring good things to life.”?
GE retired this slogan in 2003, but it still rings true today.
Lighting in interior design gives life to the space. Lighting in the kitchen must be evenly distributed to all five work zones of the kitchen.
There are four main layers of lighting in interior design.
Kitchen lighting ideas for low ceilings will need all four layers to accomplish the right amount of light.
- Ambient Lighting
- Task Lighting
- Accent Lighting
- Decorative lighting
Ambient lighting is referred to as the first layer of lighting, and this will be the primary light source you will need to consider adding to your kitchen.
The job of ambient lighting is to illuminate all four corners of the kitchen with no specific element or feature being highlighted.
Ambient lighting is more general in nature.
Ambient lighting ideas for kitchens with low ceilings include.
One of the most often used sources is ambient lighting in the kitchen is recessed lights.
Recessed lighting is also known as can lights, high-hats, pot lights, and downlights.
Downlights are sleek and polished, and because they are flush with the ceiling, they work great for kitchens with low ceiling height.
Can lights are spaced evenly throughout the kitchen; they are energy efficient and environmentally friendly when used with LED light bulbs.
Wall sconces are typically thought of as more decorative or accent lighting. Still, depending on the location and the type of wall sconces used in the kitchen, they can be considered another form of ambient lighting.
Wall sconces provide uniform and balanced light throughout the kitchen, not specifically highlighting any area.
Adding wall lights to the kitchen is growing in popularity, and for a good reason. Wall sconces allow you to define your kitchen design style.
Flush Mount Ceiling Light
Flush mount light fixtures are designed, as the name implies, to rest against the ceiling.
This makes flush mount fixtures ideal for kitchen ceilings under 8ft.
Typically located in the center of the kitchen, a flush ceiling light can give a stylish boost to ambient lighting.
Pro Tip For those with a ceiling of 8ft, try a semi-flush light fixture those few inches of hanging space provide the perfect visual interest.
Kitchen Floor lamp
This one always surprises readers, but floor lamps can be an additional source of general lighting in the kitchen.
Strategically placed in an adjacent living room or dining room, kitchen floor lamps are the perfect idea to uplift a kitchen with low-lying ceilings.
We demand so much out of our kitchen design today. Yes, of course, we are cooking and cleaning.
We are also paying bills, kids doing homework, writing out the grocery list, and reading cookbooks.
We need shadow-free, glare-free, focused task lighting to accomplish these everyday tasks.
Countertop Kitchen Lamp
This rising kitchen design trend is one of my favorites.
Adding a lamp to the kitchen countertop or kitchen island is a great way to add task lighting.
Small and cordless works lamps work great for the countertops, while a larger table lamp can be placed on the kitchen’s island.
Under cabinet lighting
You guys know this without me having to tell you. Nothing will provide better task lighting in the kitchen than under-mount lighting.
Pro tip: If you are remodeling or building a new construction home, I recommend installing LED hard-wired under-cabinet lighting.
There are endless aftermarket options, but nothing replaces flipping a switch and turning on under mount cabinet lights.
Under-mount floating shelve lighting
Transform your simple floating shelves into a glowing focal point.
Using 2″ LED tape lights, install the tape underneath and accent the kitchen decor and accessories underneath. Apply the LED strip light to the top of the shelf and give sophisticated uplighting to your favorite liquor.
I debated whether I should categorize this as ambient or task lighting.
In keeping with my initial definitions, ambient lighting is not specifically illuminating any one element in particular.
This is not the case for track lighting. Each lamp head is adjustable; you can intentionally shine the light on the faucet, florals, stove hood, etc.
This makes track lighting a great source of task lighting.
It’s been said that if you are lighting everything, you are lighting nothing.
This is where accent lighting comes to your rescue.
Powerful directional lighting that highlights personal effects, artworks, and architectural elements, creating drama wherever it shines.
Kitchen cabinet lighting
Double-stacked cabinets are not achievable in a kitchen with low ceilings. However, you still have the opportunity to layer in cabinet lighting.
Above cabinet lighting
Enhance the mood and feel of the kitchen with a lower ceiling by adding led strip lighting on top of the kitchen cabinets.
Place one strip against the back wall of the cabinets and the other along the crown molding, and be mesmerized at the diffused warm glow this look creates.
Glass front cabinets can make a kitchen feel light and airy, just what the doctored order for a kitchen with a low ceiling.
Puck lights can be added to the inside shelving of the cabinets with clear glass doors.
If the shelves are glass, one puck light shining down on all the other shelves will be sufficient.
If the interior cabinet shelves are not glass, you may need to add a puck light to each shelf.
With the introduction of rechargeable batteries, wall sconces and picture lights can be added to any wall without hard-wired electrical.
`Offered in several metal finishes, these easily installed fixtures can be up and running in minutes.
Swing arm light sconces
Anytime light can be directed towards an inanimate object, it should be considered either accent or task lighting.
Swing arm light sconces are the perfect example; they can offer additional lighting for dishwashing near the sink.
When shining down on the countertops, the swing arm can reflect back the shimmer and shine of your countertops.
Your 4th and final layer of lighting ideas for kitchens with low ceilings is decorative lighting.
Pendant lights low kitchen ceiling-
This is when you can really express your unique design style and spirit.
There’s no right or wrong answer when deciding which light fixture is best for your kitchen design style.
Consider how different pendant lamps style will distribute light in the kitchen.
Glass pendants will act more like ambient lighting, evenly distributing light around the room. Multiple light bulb glass pendants are an Ideal choice for those seeking more light in the kitchen area.
Closed Dome pendants will act more like task lighting as it shines down onto what sits directly underneath its light. This a great solution for those who like to read at the kitchen island.
Up-light pendants– these types of pendants are designed to illuminate up. Reflecting the majority of its light onto the ceiling. Creating accent lighting. Perfect choice for a modern kitchen.
The most important thing to remember when selecting your pendant lighting for a kitchen with low ceilings is height relationships and scale.
How many pendants will you need?
A simple calculation divides the island’s length by 4 to determine how many pendants you need over your kitchen island.
Then determine how low to hang them.
Pendants should be hung 30 to 36 inches above the countertop. Kitchens with 8ft ceilings should be closer to 30″. Kitchens with taller ceilings will be 36″ above the countertop.
Yes, you can! Just because your ceiling doesn’t soar doesn’t mean you can’t have hanging statement lighting.
Once again, understanding height relationships and scale will make all the difference in your kitchen lighting design.
Kitchen chandeliers that are too low will break sightlines. At the same time, a chandelier that hangs too high will offer little to no additional lighting.
The good news is that most chandelier suspensions can be adjusted.
Here is the formula you will use to determine how tall of a chandelier you will need.
Multiply your ceiling height by 2.5 or 3.
In this case, an 8ft ceiling needs a chandelier between 20-24 inches high.
Chandeliers in the kitchen look great as a central focal point.
They can be hung over the dining table or breakfast nook for a more traditional approach.
My final lighting idea for kitchens with low ceiling heights is to maximize the natural sunlight that already exists in the space.
If you are remodeling the kitchen and have the opportunity and budget, consider switching out small windows for larger windows.
Windows can also be replaced with sliding glass doors or french doors.
Secondly, strategically placed mirrors on the opposite wall of your windows will flood dark corners with sunshine.
Mirrors will reflect back natural light and bounce the sunlight all over the room.
Lastly, paint the kitchen walls white; white paint reflects 80% of natural light. The more natural light, the brighter the kitchen will feel.
I don’t expect you to use all the kitchen lighting ideas for low ceilings, but hopefully, you found one or two gems you can layer into your kitchen.
Review the lamp icon diagram to see all the light options available. There are over 50 different styles and types of lighting to choose from.
You must decide which is the best lighting option for your kitchen area.
The key is ensuring that the ideas you go with feel natural and well thought out. You don’t want these ideas to feel like an afterthought.
This can be avoided by ensuring that metal finishes coordinate with the other metals in the kitchen and that the color and style are in keeping with the kitchen’s other design elements.