8 Brilliant, Inexpensive Ways to Improve the Light in Your Kitchen

updated Jul 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Above any other room in the house, the kitchen really is the one that needs the best lighting. You technically could get dressed in the dark or put your makeup on in a dim bathroom. Could you debone a chicken in the dark? Probably not. At least, we don’t want to watch you try!

Luckily, you don’t have to have a electrician’s license to add lighting to your kitchen. There are all sorts of things you can do to brighten up your space without having to mess with the hardwiring and breakers. Here are eight smart and inexpensive products and tips that’ll help light the way toward dinner.

(Image credit: Home Depot)

If you have open shelving in your kitchen, this clamp light is a great way to add an industrial touch to the space. You simply clamp the bottom to the edge of the shelf, run the cord, and plug it in. Add a few to put a spotlight on your dinnerware collection or point a single one toward your prep space.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Of your entire kitchen, the single spot that needs the best lighting is your countertop surface. After all, you need good lighting in order to see what you’re doing, right? No one should mince garlic is the shadows of cabinetry! That’s why under-cabinet lights are so key. These LED lights can be connected to each other (link up to 12!), are easy to mount, and don’t require the services of an electrician.

(Image credit: West Elm)

3. Metalized Glass Table Lamp + USB, $129 at West Elm

Want something even easier? Set up a table lamp! They’re a non-permanent solution (read: great for renters!) and can make a room feel polished and styled. Plus, it’s not common to see table lamps in the kitchen, so putting one on the counter is sure to make a statement. Obviously, you can find table lamps on lots of sites, but we really love this option from West Elm because the base has a built-in USB plug so you can charge your phone while you follow a recipe.

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Did you know that you can turn a recessed light into a pendant light? You can! Home Depot sells a kit that screws into the recessed lighting bulb mechanism. It has a simple cord hanging down to give you a pendant where you previously did not have one. If you want something a little more ornate, Home Depot also has plenty of other options. Like this one shown above.

(Image credit: Wayfair)

No recessed lighting? You can still add a pendant light (or three!) — if you narrow down your search to options that just get plugged in (versus hardwired into a switch). Check sites like Wayfair, Home Depot, and even Amazon.

(Image credit: FairyLightsFactory)

6. Cotton Ball Fairy Lights, from $28 at Etsy

Before you write off string lights as being too college-y, take a minute to consider these cotton globe lights. They come in three different lengths and dozens of color combinations. We can totally see them strung up (criss-cross style) over a kitchen island or a breakfast table.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Back away from the 60-watt light bulbs! Turns out, they’re not bright enough: Experts say overhead kitchen lights should have an 80- to 100-watt bulb. That means better lighting in your kitchen can be as achievable as just changing out your existing bulbs.

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

8. LED Stick-On Push Lights, $12 for five

Stop blindly hunting around in the depths of your cabinets and pantries. Instead, light the way with some stick-on, battery-powered push lights, which you can tap to turn on when you need it. Contributor Anne Wolfe Postic added some to her pantry and she says it’s the best thing she’s ever done.

What have you done to improve the lighting in your kitchen?

(Image credit: The Kitchn)