Everything you need to know about under cabinet lighting

Lighting ideas

Lighting under wall-hung cabinets can help to create a welcoming atmosphere in your kitchen, whether you want to add subtle illumination or make a bold statement with rows of LED bulbs.

By carefully deciding the placement and the type of lights, you can make your kitchen a little extra special with under cabinet lighting.

Types of under cabinet lighting

Types of under cabinet lighting

The two most popular types of under cabinet lighting are strip lights and spotlights:

  • Strip lights are a long and narrow sequence of lights. They may be structured as a band containing a row of small individual lights or as a long, singular bulb. They are designed to provide unbroken illumination over a wide area.
  • Spotlights are single lights that provide concentrated illumination over a smaller area. They can be used as an independent feature light or placed across an area in a series.

In addition to lighting structure, the type of bulbs you choose will have a different effect in your kitchen:

  • Fluorescent lights are budget-friendly, energy efficient and long-lasting, but can take up to a minute to reach their full brightness.
  • LED lights have a long lifespan and are highly energy efficient, making them ideal lights for under kitchen cabinets. They instantly provide full illumination and can be paired with a dimmer switch, so you can alter the brightness to suit.

Benefits of installing under cabinet lighting

There are several benefits for incorporating lights under your kitchen units.

  • They’re cost-effective: Rather than installing a new lamp or ceiling fixture, under cabinet lights are installed directly into a fixed cabinet; saving you money on material and installation costs.
  • They’re resourceful: Under cabinet lighting creates light only where it is needed, meaning no excess light (and energy) is displayed across the rest of the kitchen.
  • They’re aesthetically pleasing: When installing under cabinet lighting, they’re kept almost hidden, so you can’t see the wires and fixtures; providing a clean, minimalist look in your kitchen.

Where to install under cabinet lighting

Strip lights and kitchen spotlights have their own installation benefits, depending on which features you want to emphasise in your kitchen. There are many ways you can arrange under cupboard lights to create the look you want in your kitchen.

  • Low lights: This is where you place under cabinet lights at the base of your units, so they sit a few inches off the ground. If you can't fit lights around the entire layout, consider highlighting one wall to create a contemporary effect.
  • Create a zone: You can highlight a designated food prep area in your kitchen. Place under cupboard lights over an integrated chopping board to make your culinary environment more comfortable, or simply use them to section off an area of your worktop where you tend to do most of your chopping, stirring and mixing.
  • Light it up: If you have a dark or small kitchen, using under cabinet lighting across your entire layout will bring an extra layer of illumination to the room, especially if ceiling space is limited. You'll benefit from functional lighting when you're cooking as well as added brightness for when you're socialising in the kitchen.
  • Show off your stuff: Under cabinet spotlights can also be used artistically, to emphasise a favourite picture or highlight a beautiful set of crockery – consider placing them on the underside of an open cabinet to help show off whatever prized item is on the shelf below.
Benefits of installing under cabinet lighting

How to style these kitchen unit lighting ideas

You can use your kitchen design and features to complement under cabinet lighting.

For example, glossy, pale-coloured surfaces will reflect light, instantly creating a bright and cheerful atmosphere. If you don't have much natural light in your kitchen, consider choosing cabinets and worktops in a gloss finish and using them with under cabinet lights to make your room feel more awake.

Alternatively, dark colours or wooden finishes will absorb light. If you want to bring a calmer mood, consider pairing under cabinet lights with rich or matt-coloured cabinets and countertops.

When you're chopping salad, flicking through a magazine or tucking into a dreamy dessert, under cabinet lighting is a small addition that can instantly transform the way your kitchen looks and feels. Remember, all electrical work needs to be carried out by a licenced electrician – our installation experts can help you let in the light.

To bring these kitchen cabinet lighting ideas to life, try out our online kitchen planner, or book an appointment to visit your nearest Wren showroom.