How To Plan The Lighting For Your Kitchen Diner

Modern grey kitchen diner with feature lighting over kitchen island

One of the myriad of decisions we had to make when planning our kitchen diner knock through is what types of lighting to have in our kitchen diner and where to put it. In our old kitchen, there was just one central light fitting, which had a 4 spot bar light on. Given the size of the room, this was simply not adequate. I don’t know about you, but I like to be able to see what I’m cooking! Getting the lighting right in a room can transform the look and feel of it. These are my top lighting tips for making sure your kitchen diner shines.

Think About How You Use The Kitchen Diner To Plan The Lighting

These days we want our kitchen-diner areas to do multiple things. So the lighting should be planned to be as flexible as our needs and uses of the room. For example, in our house the lighting needs to be bright during the daytime and early evening when the family are cooking and using the dining table for homework etc. But in the evening we want to be able to tone down and soften the lighting to be more intimate whilst eating and socialising.

Also Consider The Natural Lighting

In our Kitchen Diner, the ‘Kitchen’ part of the room gets natural light in the morning from an East facing window, but by mid-afternoon this part of the kitchen can be pretty dark. The ‘Diner’ and more social parts of the room get the afternoon sun from 2 West facing windows. Therefore an important consideration for us was being able to turn some lights on in the ‘kitchen’ part of the room, without having to light up the whole space.

What Kinds of Lighting Do You Need In The Kitchen Diner?

The types of lighting needed for a kitchen diner can generally be split into 3 types, which are general purpose lighting, task lighting and feature lighting. Firstly you need some general purpose lighting, that floods the room with bright light. Downlighters spread across the kitchen diner ceiling, but particularly above the key workstations (sink, hob) are really effective for this task.

Attractive traditional kitchen diner with downlighters across the ceiling.
Image: Used Kitchen Exchange – Preloved In-frame Painted Kitchen

In the image above, you can see the kitchen diner space has a good spread of downlighters across the ceiling which helps to give a really nice even spread of light across the space. LED downlighers are perfect for this task as they not only use far less energy than a conventional downlighter, they also last far longer – so no wobbling around on a chair to change the bulb! They are also dimmable, so you can change the brightness level to suit yourself.

The second type of lighting it is useful to have in your kitchen diner is task lighting. In general in a kitchen this takes the form of under cabinet lights. These kind of lights help to ensure there are no areas of shadow on the worktops when prepping your meals. These lights can also be left on, when the main lights are turned off, to provide that more intimate mood. Again, LED lighting is perfect for this task. In the image below you can see that the under cabinet LED strip lights bathe the worktops in light providing plenty of light for working.

Dark grey shaker kitchen showing a range of lighting styles.
Image: Mereway Kitchens and Bathrooms

In a kitchen where you don’t have upper cabinets, you can use wall lights creatively to provide task lighting as in the image below:

The final type of lighting to have in your kitchen diner is feature lighting. This is to highlight it’s best bits! This is the part where you can really have fun – and help create the lighting ambience that you want for your kitchen diner space. For example in the image below, plinth and under-worktop lighting beneath the cabinets on the kitchen island really highlight the beautiful colour of the wood it is made from.

Beautifully lit kitchen diner with stunning feature kitchen island.
Image: John Cullen Lighting

If you have a stunning kitchen dresser filled with all of your best treasures – you can use lighting as in the image below to highlight this:

Kitchen dresser with backlighting to show off the contents through the glass doors.
Image: Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms

Dividing the space

Feature lighting can help to divide an open plan kitchen diner. For example a feature light above the dining table helps to define this area and set it apart from the main kitchen.

Kitchen diner with feature light above the dining table.

Similarly, if you have a kitchen island, a feature light above it helps to delineate the ‘cooking’ space, from the ‘eating’ or ‘social’ space.

Layering The Lighting In Your Kitchen Diner Space

When planning your lighting, you want it as flexible as possible. The ability to separately turn on and off different aspects of the lights is key to creating different moods.

Kitchen diner showing a range of lighting layered across the room.

What Colour Should The Lighting Be?

Using different types of bulbs that glow at a different temperature levels in the kitchen and diner areas can also change the feel. The temperature of lighting is measured in Kelvin (K). The higher the K, the whiter and more closely resembling daylight the bulb is. The lower the K, the more yellow and warm the light is. So for task lighting you might want to choose lighting that has a fairly high K (3500 or above), but for more general purpose lighting you might want to choose something a bit softer.

For example using bright white lights in the kitchen area, but using mellow warmer white bulbs in the more social spaces. Here is a useful guide that explains it all if you would like more information about this.

I hope you find these lighting ideas for your kitchen diner useful; here’s how our own kitchen diner family room transformation turned out.