Designers Agree This Type of Bulb is Best in a Kitchen — 'It Makes Tasks Easier,' Say Experts

When it comes to kitchen lighting, choosing the right bulb is crucial for a functional yet cozy kitchen scheme

A kitchen with island lighting
(Image credit: The Stylesmiths)

In terms of the kitchen as a functional space, there's the need for bright, focused lighting that can help you complete tasks like food prep and cleaning. Picking the right bulb and light temperature is essential to make both cooking and entertaining easy.

Of course, there are a lot of choices when buying light bulbs, but choosing the right kind is easy with our expert guide. Find out which one is the most effective for your kitchen lighting scheme.

What is the best bulb for the kitchen?

A kitchen with hanging bulbs

(Image credit: Joshua Caldwell. Studio credit AMB Design Inc)

If you want to go for a long-lasting fixture, then LED bulbs rule the roost. 'LED bulbs come in a dimmable 2700k to 3000k and are readily available in new fixtures but the most important feature by far is a dimmer switch,' says Julia Mack, founder of Julia Mack Design. 'This will allow for bright light to illuminate the work surface when cooking then transform to a softly lit, warm, glowing space for evening dinners; one that gently highlights food, serving pieces, and guests.'

When planning your kitchen lighting design, consider LEDs as they fit the standard light sockets and are the most energy-efficient options. In fact, these have lower wattage than incandescent bulbs but still have the same light output. LEDs can last up to 20 years and don’t contain mercury.

Should you choose a warm or a cool light bulb for the kitchen?

A kitchen with a long pendant light above the island

(Image credit: Phil Crozier. Studio credit Reena Sotropa + Alanna Dunn)

'The light can be either temperature, but most people like blue light for tasks and a warmer light for ambiance,' says Jane Lockhart, founder of Jane Lockhart Design. 'Hidden lighting should be a warmer color to make it a soft glow when not performing task work.'

If you're installing a bulb right above the kitchen countertop, then consider a light between 3000K to 4000K — this is between a warm white and a neutral white. It should be bright enough for tasks, without being too starkly white.

However, when you look at the entire kitchen lighting scheme, then it's important to consider that this space is used for socializing as well. So the ideal lighting, therefore, is a combination of warm and cool lights.

What light brightness is best for kitchen?

A kitchen with island lighting

(Image credit: The Stylesmiths)

Whether it is kitchen island lighting or kitchen wall lighting, you want to choose bulbs and the right brightness to serve all your needs.

'The number of lumens you need for your lighting will depend on the particular space in question and what you are lighting,' says Ian Cameron, creative director at Cameron Design House. 'As a general rule, a kitchen or bathroom wall lighting which needs more task lighting can require around 70-80 lumens.'

'For accent lighting like illuminating an artwork in the kitchen, I’d avoid opting for a light with a high measurement of lumens as you generally want to softly showcase something,' advises Ian.

3 kitchen lights to buy

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast).  Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.