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Types of Lighting for Kitchen Upgrades

Upgrading a kitchen instead of a full remodel is a less expensive way to improve the home and its market value if budget is an issue. A good way to do that is to replace kitchen countertops with granite, marble, or quartz, or replace kitchen cabinets, or both. It might also pay to add new lights, which can dramatically change the look and character of the kitchen.

Quite a few options are available when it comes to lighting fixtures. Here are a few types of lighting for kitchen upgrades you might want to consider.

Under cabinet lights

An easy and clever way to light up your kitchen is with under cabinet lighting. Wall cabinets often cast a shadow directly beneath them, an strong central lighting only makes it worse.

Under cabinet lights provide illumination for the kitchen countertops, making this a practical choice for additional lighting. Additionally, you can choose what areas you need to illuminate, and may not even need to put on the central lights, helping you save some money on utilities. This is especially true if you use LED lights.

Aside from these practical considerations, under cabinet lighting can bring out the best features of your granite, marble, or quartz countertops and blacksplashes. In some instances, it can even give your kitchen a dramatic ambiance.

The great thing about under cabinet lights is that you do not need a professional to install it for you. You can do it yourself if you choose one of the various LED light types available for this purpose. Of course, you can include this in your design when doing an upgrade, and mist contractors will not charge you extra to install them.

LED lights come in strips, ropes, and bars that you can simply stick to the underside of your wall cabinets, and plug into a regular socket. These LED light types are readily available from hardware stores and home depots in any length you need.

Floor lights

Floor lights can be a bit like under cabinet lights but attach to the toe kick of base cabinets rather than the underside of wall cabinets. These are very dramatic, providing you with illumination at night and during parties. You can use any of the LED variants described above to achieve this effect.

Another type of floor light is those you install in the floor itself. You can put them in different areas of the kitchen, not just under the base cabinets. However, this does require the services of a professional remodeler, so expect to pay a hefty price for this upgrade. You might get a break if you are doing a kitchen remodel that includes replacing the floors, so definitely include it in your design.

Recessed lights

Recessed lights, as the term implies, go into some surface. It could be the ceiling, floor, or walls, but it is usually in the ceilings. The main purpose of recessed lights is to provide lighting without getting in the way. What you get is a sleek, uncluttered look to your ceiling. These are particularly useful in kitchens with low ceilings.

Some people call these can lights because the housing of some variants resembles a can. However, since this is mostly out of sight, recessed lights are a more obvious term.

In most cases, you will need a professional to install these types of lighting, as it requires creating holes on the surface. You will also have to arrange for a power source, so you probably need an electrician as well.
Take note that since most of the light fixture is inside a surface, the light can only shine directly down, rather than down and out like with non-recessed lights. You will need to put several of them together to give off enough light to work.

Side lights

One type of recessed light are sidelights, which are precisely like those that go into ceilings, but they typically go into walls. Sidelights provide a narrow area of illumination directly beneath it, so you will need a series of these lights in one area to get a good amount of light. Aside from the kitchen, which gives it an attractive light-washed look, sidelights also work well in hallways.

Tray ceiling lights

Tray ceiling lights are also hidden, but they are different from recessed lights. These light bars or strips go into a type of ledge in the ceiling called an open soffit, providing indirect lighting to a room. This is a common lighting type in hotel lobbies, paired with larger central lights such as chandeliers.

When used in the kitchen, you can choose to put in a soffit in the center of the room, or all around the sides. A central soffit works if you have an open layout, while a perimeter soffit is appropriate for a closed off kitchen.
Tray lights give a look of elegance and luxury to any room, including the kitchen. However, it should not cost you too much with a little strategy.

Obviously, you will need a professional to put in tray lights if your kitchen does not have an existing soffit, because you will need to create a space for the tray lights. The best time to do this is during a remodel. However, if you have an existing soffit, you can put in your own tray lights using LED strips or bars.


Different lighting types can have varying effects on the kitchen, but it is an easy way to upgrade your kitchen. If you need professional help to do this, make sure you consider Fairfax Kitchen Bath if you are in the DC, MD and Northern Virginia metropolitan areas.
We are a Class A, licensed and insured contractor, registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We have a showroom in Fairfax, Virginia, which houses all our products.

We sell only top-quality products for all your kitchen remodeling needs, from top-brand kitchen cabinets of all type materials to natural and engineered stone slabs. We carry products from Schrock Cabinetry, Fabuwood, Silestone, Blanco, Kohler, and Mosaic Décor. We would be more than happy to advise and assist you in putting in better lights for your kitchen upgrade.

Contact us today to get free in-home design consultation and quote for your RTA kitchen countertops, cabinets and other remodeling projects. We guarantee you will love it for life!

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Picture of Sam Kazanci <br/><span id="position">Owner</span>
Sam Kazanci

Sam Kazanci is the owner of Fairfax Kitchen Bath Remodeling. He has experience to build and remodel the kitchen and baths with his team and the author of fkb blog: You can find Sam on LinkedIn and Twitter.