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26 of the best Kitchen Recessed Lighting Ideas

Recessed kitchen lights are ideally suited for today's kitchens, since they add essential general lighting and task lighting throughout the room. These fixtures can be used in many different layouts, ceiling heights, and scenarios to optimize your kitchen. Since there are so many options for using recessed kitchen lights, we've compiled 26 of our favorite kitchens with recessed lights and provided kitchen recessed lighting ideas to guide you through designing your kitchen.

Creative Connections (Contemporary)

The shapes of your recessed lights can connect to contemporary lighting fixtures, but they can also connect to the room's overarching architecture and cabinets. In this example, the cabinets, island, and windows all feature very clean-cut rectangular/square shapes. These accents then tie back to the recessed lights to create a very cohesive, creatively defined kitchen.

Unconventional Balance

With various kitchen ceiling heights and types, you may not be able to line up your lights in perfect rows and lines. This ceiling with the vaulted kitchen displays that through their scattered lights. Even if you cannot create a perfectly symmetrical lighting scheme with your recessed lights, space them intentionally like this kitchen. The placement of three lights, then two, and then one helps create a balanced lighting scheme and add enough lighting to the different areas of the kitchen.

Monochromatic Marvels

If your kitchen highlights a monochromatic color scheme with blacks and whites, it is especially vital to consider what lights you use in your kitchen. By incorporating recessed lights near any dark cabinets or accents, you can add essential lighting to your kitchen and inadvertently highlight the stunning contrast of the kitchen's main colors.

Multiple Lighting Types

This classic kitchen shows how easily different lighting fixtures can be used in a common space. Between the pendant lights, chandelier, and recessed lights, each lighting fixture has its own purpose and space to shine. The recessed lights don't detract from those accents; instead, they are readily available to provide essential task lighting and compliment the nearby areas and lights.

Modern Aesthetics

Recessed lights are often considered to be modern accents, since they have a minimal presence and great functionality. With that in mind, using recessed lighting fixtures in any kitchen can help elevate the room to fit into today's modern world, even if you pair those recessed lights with more traditional lighting fixtures and accents.

No island? No problem - No Island Kitchen Lighting Ideas!


This transitional kitchen features two stunning pendant lights above the chandelier, recessed lights over the span of the kitchen, and two smaller recessed lights over the kitchen sink. All of these lights are placed with intentional purposes to add style, create general lighting, or add task lighting. This kitchen masterfully uses 4 inch recessed lights above the sink to brighten a smaller area and cast more focused light on a highly practical area. Different recessed light sizes have different functionality, so it is vital to consider what size lights work best in your kitchen.

Learn more about 4 vs 6 Inch Recessed Lights!

Creative Connections (Traditional)

The previous example showed how square recessed lights can connect to other elements of the room. In this example, the round recessed lights tie into other soft curves in the room. The pendant lights, rounded chairs, and softer lines all compliment the recessed can lights and fit the transitional style of the kitchen.

Being Square

We've already stated how square recessed ceiling lights are highly contemporary in their styles, but they can be further elevated depending on what pendant lights and chandeliers they're paired with. This scenic modern kitchen has a partially inset ceiling and three rectangular pendant lights accenting the island. By using squares in these lights, you connect the recessed lights to the pendants in similar styles and tones.

More Galley Style Kitchen Lighting Ideas!

Kitchens of All Sizes

Recessed lights can be used in kitchens with tall ceilings, vaulted ceilings, or standard and low ceilings. They can be used as the main lights in kitchen with low ceilings, or they can be paired with certain pendant lights, chandeliers, and ceiling lights. Recessed lights are highly efficient in brightening your kitchen without shrinking the size of the room, so they are ideal for small and large kitchens alike.

Get inspired with Low Ceiling Kitchen Lighting Ideas!

Designer's Details

The lights and their placement are highly important for defining the kitchen's practicality and style. In this sleek modern kitchen, the cabinets and island all feature glossy surfaces and finishes. With that, the pendant lights, recessed lights, and under cabinets lights all reflect off these surfaces and cast light further throughout the kitchen. Details like these can define your kitchen as masterfully designed and highly artistic.

Transitional Styles

Transitional style is a blending of modern and traditional aesthetics to create a new, timeless style. Even if recessed ceiling lights are considered more modern, they can easily work into transitional and traditional spaces. These fixtures can be incredibly subtle with different options with trim and design, but you can also choose bold options if you want to accent a more contemporary kitchen.

Blending In

Recessed ceiling lights have various options with types of trim and borders. By choosing a light with simple white trim, you can seamlessly blend it into the kitchen's ceiling and white color scheme. With that, the lights may not even be noticeable at first glance!


There's no need to be overly complicated with kitchen lighting fixtures. In fact, it's not even mandatory to have a chandelier, ceiling light, or pendant light to accent the space. Adding simple recessed lights throughout the kitchen can help you create a very sleek, minimalist aesthetic and highlight an uncluttered kitchen.

Enjoy More Recessed Lighting Ideas!

Recessed Lights in Open Concept Kitchens

Even if your kitchen shares a common space with a living room or dining room, the recessed ceiling lights do not have to carry over from area to area. As you can see by this kitchen and dining space, the recessed lights are intentionally placed around the perimeter of the kitchen to create essential task lighting. They are not placed throughout the entire kitchen so that they do not detract from the pendant lights above the island. Similarly, the lights do not carry over to the dining room, since that space has enough ambient lighting through its own lighting fixture.

More Living Room Recessed Lighting Ideas!

Creating Balance

In previous kitchens, the recessed lights have been a fair distance from any other pendant lights or chandeliers. In this kitchen, the lights are spaced out over the main portion of the kitchen and line up near the pendant light. As you can see, this setup provides great lighting for the kitchen at large and doesn't detract from the pendant light, since the pendant light makes such a clear style statement while the recessed lights act as complementary fixtures.

Something Different

Most recessed lighting fixtures are round in shape. However, using square recessed lights is a great way to change up your space and add a unique design element. These lights are used in mostly contemporary or modern spaces, since their rigid shapes fit into a modern aesthetic. Consider different sizes, trims, and placements to create subtle or bold statements with your square recessed lighting fixtures.

Wooden Charm

Whether you are adding lights to a wood ceiling like this or a ceiling with exposed beams, rest assured that recessed lights work even in more rustic, cottage, and farmhouse aesthetics. Their ability to blend in and create warm light actually helps accent these styles and create your ideal mood.

Vaulted Kitchen Ceilings

It can be difficult to brighten a kitchen with a vaulted ceiling. Recessed lights can help you subtly add lights to those ceilings and create your optimal kitchen. Either four inch or six inch recessed lights can work with recessed ceilings, but four inch lights are often preferred because they are less obvious in the ceiling. Their smaller size and more narrowed beams help them blend into the scenery and keep them as accents as opposed to the main focal points.

Illuminate your kitchen with Kitchen Vaulted Ceiling Lighting Ideas!

Small Kitchens

Small kitchens may not necessarily need recessed ceiling lights to accent the room. If you choose a central pendant light or chandelier that casts light over a large area, then that light alone may be enough to brighten the small kitchen. Even with that setup, consider adding in under cabinet lights in the room to create optimal task lighting and style. As we continue our list, you will see other examples of small kitchens that use recessed lights as well, so they are perfectly fitting for even small rooms.

Adding Warmth

All lights have different lighting temperatures, including kitchen recessed ceiling lights. The lights can create warm or cool tones, or they can mimic sunlight. This mid century modern kitchen uses warm lights, which is fitting for complementing the nearby wood tones and warming up the white cabinetry. Carefully considering the lighting temperature of your kitchen lights will impact the room's mood dramatically.

Fabulous Focal Points

This kitchen masterfully displays how to include an artistic kitchen island light to create a focal point in kitchen. With that however, it is easy to notice how the counters behind it would not have enough task lighting on their own. That's why recessed ceiling lights are intentionally placed over the sink and the back counters. Not only do these lights add essential task lighting, but they do so without detracting from the central lighting fixture/focal point.

Explore Over Kitchen Sink Lighting Ideas!

Mid Century Modern Aesthetics

Mid century modern homes make the most of dramatic wood accents and unique furnishings. Including recessed lights in the kitchen can help compliment any mid century modern cabinets, backsplash, or flooring you have by adding illumination and not detracting from those elements. Plus, if you have an open concept space like this one, recessed ceiling lights can accent the kitchen while allowing the dining space to stand out with a mid-century modern pendant light.

Setting The Tone

As mentioned above, lighting temperature has a large impact on the kitchen's overarching mood. When you pair recessed lights with other lighting types, it is essential that you pair them through similar lighting temperatures to create a consistent tone. Whether you choose a consistent warm, cool, or natural color, the unity will go far in defining your kitchen's aesthetic.

Complimentary Design

Recessed lights are likely not your kitchen's focal point. In fact, you will likely use pendant lights or chandeliers to serve as those key accents. With that in mind, adding some distance between the recessed lights and pendant lights can help those hanging lights to shine as their own accents. Even if they are mounted closely to one another, allowing pendant lights to hang further down distances them from the ceiling and ceiling lights, which allows them to shine as key focal points and accents.

Small Kitchens

Small kitchens may not necessarily need recessed ceiling lights to accent the room. If you choose a central pendant light or chandelier that casts light over a large area, then that light alone may be enough to brighten the small kitchen. Even with that setup, consider adding in under cabinet lights in the room to create optimal task lighting and style. As we continue our list, you will see other examples of small kitchens that use recessed lights as well, so they are perfectly fitting for even small rooms.

Gathering ideas and creating a plan are the first two steps in planning your ideal kitchen. With the 25 recessed kitchen lighting ideas listed above, you now have more guidance and inspiration to help you create your perfect kitchen. Remember, no matter what style you fall into, recessed lights can accentuate your style and positively impact your kitchen's functionality and style.


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