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Creating Ambience: Under Cabinet Lighting

by | Jul 22, 2009 | Decorating Inspiration, Details, Kitchens

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Creating Ambience: Under Cabinet Lighting


One of the most significant and relatively inexpensive things you can do to enhance the feel of your kitchen is to use under cabinet lighting. The options for under cabinet lighting range from lighting strips you plug in to an outlet, to various lights you wire in, or even just setting a lamp on a counter. But however you light your counter tops, the difference will be striking!

We waited about a year after we remodeled our kitchen before we installed our under cabinet lighting. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made! I wish I had a picture of the lights themselves, but you can see in this old holiday photo how the lights reflect on the subway tile making it glow. Without those lights it was shadowy and not nearly as warm looking.

The counters have a bit of sun shining down on them in this photo, but you can really see the effect of the under cabinet lights on the subway tile.

Creating Ambience: Under Cabinet Lighting

You can find under cabinet lighting options at any lighting shop.

In addition to under cabinet lighting, I also love the warm glow of a lamp on a counter. Turning on a lamp and under cabinet lighting at night in the kitchen gives the room a homey and cozy ambience that overhead lighting just can’t!

Do you have under counter lighting and lamps in your kitchen?


  1. Katie

    We decided that under cabinet lighting was a must when we remodeled since we opted for cherry-colored cabinets and black counter tops. I love how it serves as task lighting in a way that an overhead light cannot!

  2. Claudia

    Oh Oh oh…
    You have reminded me about my BIL who does the best under cab lights.

    I will share too… (now making a note to myself to get hinnie out there and convince him he needs to be a show off of his work :)

    You always rock– hope all is going well for you today!

    TTFN~~Claudia ♥

  3. Sheryl

    I would love under-the-cabinet lighting, but DH keeps saying he doesn’t want a cord that will plug in, that it needs to be hardwired. So, it never happens. We both love the look of it, though. I love small lamps everywhere, but I struggle with where to put one in my kitchen. Seems I need that space for other things!

  4. Fifi Flowers

    I adore my under the counter lighting… it makes my kitchen warm and inviting!
    BTW… hope you are getting better!

  5. Gina

    I love our under cabinet lighting-it makes such a huge difference. I also like that ours has a dimmer, great for task work on the counter and ambiance later on. We’ve also got a little lamp too. I agree with you, they do so much more than overheads!

  6. Jen

    I love our under cabinet lightening. It stays on a lot for the ambiance…with the candles, of course. :)

  7. Twice Remembered

    Love this entry AND under cabinet lighting! I have to fight myself not keep ours turned on during the day- I just love the soft glow. I didn’t want cords either and ended up having hubs hardwire some small disc lights. Below is a link to a photo of what our light looks like (during a kitchen redo – excuse our unfinished, unattractive walls!) but if you click my website link, you’ll see what the disc lighting looks like when turned on.
    They are so nice for ambiance but just about imperative for working in my kitchen…it was so dark in that area without them!

  8. Tracy

    I have a little lamp on the bookcase in my kitchen, and undercab lighting in one small area but I really want it in the rest of the space. I just haven’t figured out how to do it myself without plugs showing somewhere… one of these days…

  9. Ruthie

    Hi, My best friend told me about your site. She said in your July 22 issue, you had a sunroom or garden room that would work perfect for my patio area. Can you direct me to that place because I am having a hard time finding it. It has windows with divided lights at the top. Thankyou for your help. Ruthie

  10. Chie

    I have 3 lightings in my lil kitchen. Hubby put up 1 above the sink and one in each side the sink too. Hmmm… complicated to explain. As you know living in Sweden, one really needs a good lightings specially winter time.

    Have a nice day and have a blissful soon w/end.

  11. Jenny

    Still waiting for a good coupon from Lowe’s to buy mine! Can’t wait to see how it changes the look of my kitchen.

  12. Kathy

    I bought those “Dots” lights that can adhere underneath, but I wasn’t thrilled with the light from it, so I didn’t add the others. I love the idea of an accent lamp on a kitchen counter and I have seen so many pictures with one that looks great. I would like to bring in maybe a lamp and under counter lighting in the next house. I do like that cozy, homey look it gives.

  13. Astrid

    I do have undercabinet lighting but it’s so awful that I never ever use them…they’re fluorescent lights that make an awful buzzing sound. I keep meaning to change them out for …what are they called? puck lights? Mine are hardwired so I think I’ll let my husband change them out for me. It would be nice if I could actually use the lights!

  14. Amy

    I love my undercabinet lighting! The only issue is that they are quite hot when left on for a while. I would leave them on all day, otherwise, since I love the warm glow. Without them my dark backsplash becomes a black hole.

  15. Mary

    Since my husband is an electrician by trade, we have all kinds of lights in all kinds of places. The funny thing about my under the counter lights are that the cords show. But, when he put in my friends, he ran the cords up through the cabinets. Voila, no plugs showing. I guess I need to be as particular as Janet. The are great either way.

  16. cynthia

    we have it and LOVE it!
    really makes your kitchen come alive…

    pretty inexpensive too!

  17. Natalie

    Great idea ~ thanks! :)

  18. Lee

    We are going to use some lamps that my husband made a long time ago for under our kitchen cabinets. Once, for a birthday or something, he made me a toaster lamp. It’s the coolest lamp EVA! :) I’ve gotten so many…comments on it. Then, he made a blender lamp out of my mom’s old 70’s-ish puke-green blender. It is also really cool! :) So, those two are going under our cabinet and maybe will be some neat conversation pieces there in the future.

  19. cribtales

    In our new house I repurposed a lovely wee lamp from a former living room and put it on my counter in the kitchen. Like you said, I love the glow that it gives the house at night as it bleeds into all the downstairs rooms that are dark; and it provides extra task light when I’m cooking.

  20. My First Kitchen

    Melissa! My goodness, it’s been so long since I’ve been here. I’m blaming it on the baby… well, the not-yet-born-but-still-active baby. It’s great to stop by and see what you’ve been up to. Are you going to be at SheSpeaks next week? Oh goodness, I hope so. I’d love to meet you for real. Now I’m off to look at what I’ve missed over here the last couple of months! Have a great day!

  21. Amy

    I added cheap Ikea lights under one side of my kitchen cabinets… the others are in our garage waiting to be installed. Love them, but they really heat up the kitchen or anything directly under them.

  22. Tami

    Yes. I have two small lamps in the corners of my kitchen. I just love their light in the evening after I close the kitchen for the night.
    My kitchen is tiny but the far corners would be dead space anyway.

  23. Joanna

    I just love this idea. I love the glow that the under the cabinet lighting lets off when no other lights are on in the kitchen at night,

  24. Becky K.

    I don’t yet but I agree with you 150%!! I love the look of a sweet lamp lit on the kitchen counter.

    Becky K.

  25. the BLAH BLAH BLAHger

    I just added some this year that I found at IKEA for a steal. It makes me happy.

  26. The Blushing Hostess

    This is just what our room needs and I had been avoiding dealing with it, thank you for making it look easy for someone qualified (no me) to do!! :)

  27. Vee

    Yes, but I like the look of that strip better and my lights are LED lights…hate’m. I tried the lamp on the counter for a few weeks and finally decided that it was more of an annoyance than the cute look was worth…maybe if I find just the right lamp.

  28. Janmary, N Ireland

    We went for semi – concealed triangular “wedges” halogen lights on our new work surfaces in our newly made-over kitchen.

    The ambiance lighting I am most pleased about in my new kitchen, however, are the “runway” lights between the cupboards/cabinets and the floor.

    You can see them on my blog (hope it is ok to include this link)

  29. mary b

    We have low voltage linear lighting hard wired under our kitchen cabinets. It is wonderful because you can set your own distance between the bulbs. (search for Seagull or Kichler to see this type of lights)
    I cannot imagine the kitchen without it, especially since we have very dark cabinets.

    • Augie

      Which brand do you have? Did you use 5 watt or 10 watt bulbs? How far apart did you space them? Will a 1- 1/4 inch lip on bottom of my cabinets hide them OK? I’ve seen both Seagull and Kichler linear lights on the web.

      Thanks, Augie

  30. DEEP

    In kitchen cabinet lighting is a really usefull one and very decorative too..

  31. Meg Biram

    My handy husband installed circular under cabinet lighting that has three dimmer settings. It’s wonderful and has drastically changed the lighting in our kitchen! An affordable solution for kitchens in need of lighting!

  32. hairstyles for girls

    What a great idea! I really want to do this. Now I just need to convince the hubby!!


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