8 Bright Accent Light Ideas For Your Kitchen

Your kitchen isn't fully illuminated with some accent lighting. Photo Source: Weaver Custom Homes

Your kitchen isn’t fully illuminated without accent lighting.
Photo Source: Weaver Custom Homes

So you’ve purchased and installed your kitchen cabinets and you love them. Your countertop and backsplash complement your cabinetry perfectly and everything seems to be coming together. But something seems to be missing. You look over your scrapbook of magazine-ready kitchens but you still can’t seem to figure out how to get that particular look that you’re imagining. Well the answer to your dilemma may just be accent lighting.

It seems simple enough, but the right lighting can have a major influence on the type of ambiance you create in your space. When it comes to kitchens, we tend to focus on the typical sources of lighting, such as overhead lighting. If you have a kitchen island, you may have installed hanging pendant lights or a chandelier above it for some extra task lighting, or simply for decoration. But there are several other areas in kitchen where adding a few LED lights can take your entire kitchen ambiance to a whole new level.

Light Up Your Cabinets

This gorgeous white kitchen uses LED lighting to illuminate the wall cabinetry, as well as below.

This gorgeous white kitchen uses LED lighting to illuminate the wall cabinetry, as well as below. Photo Credit: Gast Architects

If you’re still in the planning stages of your remodel, placing accent lights inside your cabinets is a perfect way to create the illusion of a bigger kitchen. Of course, glass doors are necessary to allow the light to shine through, and if you can manage to have glass doors on all of your wall cabinets, the visual effect will be stunning. The type of glass you choose can add another layer of visual interest if you so desire. A completely transparent glass will showcase your china or wine glass collection. A more opaque or frosted glass will soften the light, adding a touch of warmth without being too overbearing.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

If you’re not a fan of glass cabinet doors but would still like to light up your cabinets, try adding lights underneath. This is a great way to illuminate the countertop space underneath, which is extra helpful if you use this space as a prep area. Be sure to purchase light rail molding to hide the light source underneath.

Open Shelf Lighting Photo Source: Renovation Planning LLC

Open Shelf Lighting
Photo Source: Renovation Planning LLC

Open Shelf Lighting

This is another great trick for opening up a small kitchen space. Ditch the upper wall cabinets and opt for open shelves instead. Then add lights underneath the shelves to light up and showcase whatever will be stored there.

Glass shelves with lights

Floating glass shelves with LED light strips create a stunning light source, perfect for a contemporary kitchen. Photo Source: Aurora Lighting

Make It Glow!

If you’re looking for a unique, eye-catching element to add to your contemporary kitchen design, then this may pique your interest. Take the open shelf design to a whole new level by installing floating glass shelves and adding LED light strips around them. This is a cool, futuristic look that will pair well with a minimalist kitchen design. This can be tricky to pull off, so be sure to find a lighting company that can provide the proper lighting and assistance.

Contemporary kitchen with under-counter and above-cabinet lighting.

Contemporary kitchen with under-counter and above-cabinet lighting. Photo Source: Light IQ

Under-Counter Lighting

The most intuitive design choice is to place hanging pendant lights or a gorgeous chandelier over the kitchen island. But the kitchen island can be so much more versatile than we give it credit for, and can be a great place to experiment with cool lighting looks. For a more subdued lighting option, consider placing a row of lights underneath the overhang of your island’s countertop. This will create a soft ambiance, perfect for late evening socializing or a romantic night in.

Above Cabinet Lighting

Another unique way to add warm accent lighting to your kitchen is by placing them above the cabinets rather than below. Moving the light source up and away from the line of sight subdues the light just enough to be useful but not overbearing. This is great for again creating a soft and intimate ambiance, or simply providing light for late nights. It’s best if your cabinets are placed about a foot below the ceiling in order for the light to shine out, as well as to provide space for a molding to hide the light source.

Gorgeous contemporary kitchen featuring under-counter lighting and toe lighting. Photo Source: Gilbert Kitchen & Bath Designers BeautifulRemodel.com

“Toe” Lighting

This is a perfect lighting option for those late night excursions into the kitchen. Toe lighting is placed underneath your base cabinets, right above the toe kick. These can be placed all around your kitchen for optimal lighting, or just underneath your island for a warm, unique aesthetic.

Color-changing LED lights illuminate the glass backsplash and bring new life to this contemporary kitchen. Photo Credit: Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Southam Design Inc

Glass Backsplash Lighting

This lighting option is for the adventurous homeowner who wants to go big. Perfect for minimalist, contemporary kitchens, placing lights behind a glass backsplash is an eye-catching way to illuminate your entire kitchen. Take it up a notch with colored or color-changing lights that will allow you to customize your backsplash and your kitchen design on a whim. This setup requires a lot of planning and assistance, so be sure to work with design professionals who can pull it off for you.

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