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Get a practical (and pretty) space with the right lighting over the kitchen sink

Kitchen lighting is a decision almost as important as the appliances you select. Not only is it critical for cooking, slicing, and dicing, but it helps set a mood and can add a punch of style and design to your space. Whether you’re looking for lighting over a kitchen sink or island, under cabinets, or as an ambient option, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you have the right wattage, location, position, and style based on the rest of the room.

There are so many choices when it comes to kitchen lighting depending on where your sink is located in the space. Here are a few considerations you’ll want to weigh out when choosing your lighting.

glass globe feature in modern kitchen
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Kitchen light styles for over the sink

There are plenty of options when it comes to sink lighting. You don’t have to give up style for it to be considered task lighting.

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Recessed lights

Recessed lights are always a good option if you want a clean line of vision across your entire kitchen. They are also easy to clean and maintain.

Pendant lights

Pendant lights are also popular because you can experiment with color and style; just make sure there is enough light pointing downward, so you have a useful area to prep and clean.


Sconces are having a moment because you can add more than one above or to the side of the sink, and they can be adjusted based on what you’re working on.

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Where to place lighting over a kitchen sink

When choosing the right type of lighting, it’s important to think about the height of the light.

Over sink lights should be placed directly overhead, so if you have the ability to add a joist to secure a particularly heavy light fixture, do it during a remodel. You never know if you’re going to need it, and it can be a time and cost savings if you do choose to go heavier down the road. If you choose to install the light yourself but don’t have a lot of experience, there are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch to get the hang of it. It’s a fairly easy project, but because you are dealing with electricity, make sure you follow safety protocols when doing so. If you’re not comfortable with the process and don’t have the time or inclination to learn, choose a well-reviewed electrician for the job.

If you’re choosing pendant lights above a sink in an island, they should hang down 12 to 20 inches from an eight-foot ceiling. If you have higher ceilings, you can add from there (for each additional foot of ceiling height, add three inches). Another way to look at it is this general rule: There should be a minimum of 36 inches above the counter (but 40 inches is optimal if there is room).

If you are looking to install over kitchen sink lighting and the sink is next to a wall, pendant lights should be four to six inches away from it so it doesn’t get in the way of what you’re doing but isn’t too close to the wall itself. It’s always good to use something (say, a piece of tape) to hang from the ceiling so you can visualize exactly where the pendant will hang when installed.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What type of bulbs should you choose?

All kitchens are different when it comes to sink setups (for example, your sink may be under a window, on an island, or under a counter), and the position of the sink matters when it comes to selecting lighting. For instance, if the sink is under a window where there is a lot of natural light coming in, you can choose lighting with less powerful wattage — say, 80-watt bulbs instead of traditional 100-watt bulbs.

In terms of color, selecting a warm white color gives enough brightness but isn’t too harsh when it comes to entertaining and eating. It gives off a slightly yellow light perfect for the space and its various uses.

Because the kitchen is used for prepping, cooking, and entertaining, we recommend putting a dimmer on all kitchen light switches, so the lighting can be adjusted depending on what you are doing in the room. No one wants to eat and converse in extreme brightness, but having that option when dicing an onion has its benefits. We know that, more than ever, the kitchen is being used as a homework station, workspace, and more, so having the option to control the light level is key.

All that’s left now is setting a budget, doing your homework on what lighting will work best with the space you have over your sink, and finding a style that will complement the overall aesthetic of your home. There are so many choices for lighting color, shape, and material that you’re bound to find one that works for you. Happy shopping!

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Julie Scagell
Former Digital Trends Contributor
I am a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, MN. My passions include my dogs, talking about my dogs, and taking pictures of…
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