Brighten Up Your Low-Ceiling Kitchen With These Clever Lighting Tricks

If your kitchen has a low ceiling under 8 feet high, you know lighting can be tricky. That awkward, closed-in feeling is no fun. But with some clever tips and lighting tricks, you can brighten up your small kitchen space so it feels open and airy.

In this post, we’ll share our best ideas for lighting a low-ceiling kitchen. From calculating the ideal lumens to creative fixture placements, these tips will help you maximize every inch. With the right lighting plan, even a compact kitchen can feel spacious and brilliant. Read on to learn how uplighting, LEDs, and reflective surfaces can transform your low-ceiling kitchen!

Calculate the Recommended Lumens for Your Space

First things first – determine the right brightness level for your kitchen. Lumens measure the total quantity of visible light emitted by a light source. The recommended lumens for adequate kitchen lighting fall between 30-50 lumens per square foot. Here’s a simple equation to find the ideal lumen range:

Total Square Feet x Minimum Lumens (30) = Minimum Total Lumens

low ceiling small kitchen lighting

Total Square Feet x Maximum Lumens (50) = Maximum Total Lumens

For example, for a cozy 100 square foot kitchen, the minimum recommended lumens would be:

100 sq ft x 30 lumens = 3,000 minimum total lumens

The maximum would be:

100 sq ft x 50 lumens = 5,000 maximum total lumens

Shoot for the 3,000 – 5,000 lumen range to avoid any dark or underlit spots in a 100 square foot kitchen. The bigger the kitchen, the more lumens you’ll need. But for compact kitchens, 3000-5000 lumens from multiple light sources will provide ideal brightness.

Direct Light Upwards With Uplighting Fixtures

One of the best tricks for opening up a low-ceiling kitchen is to use uplighting. Uplighting refers to any light source that shines upwards and reflects light off the ceiling. The light bouncing down creates a nice ambient glow. No need for large overhead fixtures that overwhelm a petite kitchen.!

Uplighting Fixture Ideas

  • Sconces mounted on walls to direct light upwards
  • Track lighting that highlights and accents the ceiling
  • Recessed can lights – just point them upwards
  • LED strip lighting placed to shine light up

These fixtures illuminate and brighten without hanging down. Position them strategically to light up walls, corners, and any kitchen focal points. The reflected glow from uplighting makes rooms feel more expansive.

Get Creative With Versatile LED Strip Lights

One of our favorite low-ceiling kitchen lighting options is LED strip lights. Linear LED strips are thin, versatile, and easy to install pretty much anywhere since they don’t take up space. Take advantage of their flexibility to add accent lighting exactly where you need it most.

Smart LED Strip Light Placement Ideas

  • Undercabinet LEDs for task lighting
  • At the toe kick along the floor for an ambient glow
  • As cove lighting to brighten up walls

LED strips give you freedom to illuminate the kitchen creatively. Bend and mold them wherever you need extra light. For low ceilings, they ensure light reaches every corner while leaving overhead space open.

Opt for Flush or Semi-Flush Mounts

Hanging pendant lights are popular for kitchens, but they hang too low in spaces with limited ceiling height. The solution? Swap pendants for flush or semi-flush mount fixtures instead.

Flush mounts sit directly against the ceiling, with no gaps or hanging parts. Semi-flush mounts leave just a few inches between the fixture and ceiling. These sleek, modern styles provide ambient and task lighting without overwhelming a petite kitchen.

Some low-profile flush or semi-flush fixtures we recommend include:

  • Drum-shaped or flat panel LED lights
  • Clustered candelabra bulbs
  • Circle or square frame lights
  • Fixture with multiple recessed downlights

They provide plenty of light for prepping, cooking, and cleaning up without sacrificing style.

Place Floor Lamps in Problematic Corners

Here’s an underutilized idea that works perfectly in small kitchens – placing floor lamps strategically in corners or other awkward spots traditional fixtures can’t reach. The long arm and height of floor lamps direct light upwards, bouncing it off walls and the ceiling. And the base doesn’t take up counter or cabinet space.

Floor lamps are ideal for illuminating problematic corners or island areas that overhead lights fail to reach. They provide ambiance without hogging valuable real estate that a pendant or chandelier would. We love the look of modern arched or swing arm floor lamps in kitchen corners.

Reflect Light with Mirrors and Metallics

Here’s a trick interior designers use to make rooms look brighter and feel more spacious – reflective surfaces! Adding mirrors and metallic accents allows you to multiply lighting and illuminate the kitchen further.

Try hanging a mirror on the backsplash to reflect pendant or task lighting. Or add a mirrored backsplash that will glitter from undercabinet LEDs. Metallic pendants, appliances, barstools or furnishings will also bounce light around the kitchen.

You can even apply reflective wallpaper or metallic paint to the ceiling to maximize light. The reflections expand the feeling of space and make your compact kitchen glow.

Clear the Way for Light to Spread

For lighting to be effective, it needs clear paths to illuminate the entire kitchen space. Ensure fixtures are not blocked by hanging plants, pot racks, or other decor obstructions. Raised cabinets can also prevent light from reaching all areas.

Consider glass-front upper cabinets to allow illumination to pass through. Open shelving is another way to keep the space feeling bright and open rather than dark and cramped.

Keeping walking paths, workstations, and seating areas free from barriers allows light to spread properly. This prevents dim spots from developing in oddly blocked off corners or walls.

Use Dimmers and Layer Lighting

Harsh, bright lighting can feel stark and cold in a petite kitchen. Instead, create warmth and dimension by mixing different lighting temperatures and levels throughout the space.

Use dimmer switches to control brightness of overhead and task lighting. Then layer ambient fixtures, accent lighting, and pops of color to make a small kitchen glow. For example, try pairing:

  • Overhead LED lights + undercabinet strips
  • Pendant lights + LED cove lighting
  • Recessed cans + accent lighting on display shelves

Blending different kinds of lighting at various intensities prevents a cramped feeling. The kitchen will stay cozy and warm instead of cold and clinical.

Lighting a low-ceiling kitchen present unique challenges. But with uplighting to generate an ambient glow, clever LED placements, and reflective surfaces, your compact kitchen can shine bright. Dimmers, layers and the right mix of lighting styles also keep things cozy.

Follow our tips to make the most of the space you have. With strategic lighting choices, even a kitchen with a 7 foot ceiling can feel open, inviting, and well-illuminated. So don’t despair, get creative and transform your kitchen into a bright, beautiful space you’ll be proud of!

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