6 Types of Kitchen Accent Lighting

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor

Kitchen Accent Lighting

kitchen accent lighting

One of the important elements in lighting a kitchen is using lighting to create moods and images and to bring focus to areas and object that you wish to feature. This is where accent lighting in the kitchen will play a vital role.

What is Accent Lighting?

Accent lighting is the type of lighting used to accent an area of the room or objects within the room. Accent lighting typically can be controlled on its own and separately from the ambient lighting that you may have in the room. Accent lighting also is often controlled by dimmers to adjust the accent elements when desired.

Why is Kitchen Accent Lighting Important?

The kitchen used to be a room that was used to cook and eat and was lit by a single light bulb or fixture in the ceiling. Today, with the various design elements, colors and materials used in the kitchen, accent lighting offers the opportunity to enhance those design elements and colors.

6 Types of Kitchen Accent Lighting kitchen accent lighting

These are the most common types of kitchen accent lighting options that you have. We will discuss each of them and offer you a recommendation if you are interested in looking into some of these products.

  1. Under Cabinet Lighting
  2. Above Cabinet Lighting
  3. Kitchen Cabinet Interior Lighting
  4. Kitchen Drawer Lighting
  5. Toe Kick Lighting
  6. Track Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under cabinet lighting is probably the most common type of kitchen accent lighting that is used today. However, under cabinet lighting is also used as task lighting when you are working on your counters. As a result, dimmers are important because you can use them to adjust the brightness or lumens thus togging back and forth between task lighting and accent lighting.

under cabinet accent lighting

In our home, we use under cabinet lighting as kitchen accent lighting more than for performing tasks. In the evening, we often have the recessed lighting off and only use the accent lighting from the under cabinet lights to illuminate the room. It creates a very cozy feeling.

We spend a lot of time talking about under cabinet lighting here at Lighting Tutor. Take time to review the following articles on under cabinet lighting:

Above Cabinet Lighting

Many kitchens have open soffit areas above the cabinets. This is especially true for kitchens with high ceilings. If you are not using accent lighting in this area, then you are missing out on an opportunity to create an added element that can help make your kitchen a special place.

One of the important things to remember when adding accent lighting above the cabinets is that you are basically lighting the ceiling. Therefore, it is important that your ceiling is painted well and free from imperfections. Otherwise, you will simply bring attention to something that may not be so flattering.

This is also an opportunity to add crown molding, art, plants, or anything else above the cabinets that may look great with accent lighting.

above cabinet lighting

An easy way to add above cabinet lighting is to use rope lighting or strip lights. Both can be dimmed, are inexpensive and can be replaced easily if needed. We recommend installing outlets above your cabinets but out of sight, so these lights can simply be plugged in. Plan to control those outlets with one dimmer switch in your kitchen.

Here are a couple of recommended above cabinet lighting options:

The first one is a rope light that is only 3 feet long. This will fit above most standard sized cabinets and since it is a rope light, you can weave it a bit if your cabinet is shorter than 3 feet. These can also be connected to others if you need a longer span.

The second one is a strip light that can be cut to fit the size you need. It comes in a 3000k temperature which is perfect for the kitchen.

Kitchen Cabinet Interior Lighting

Another way to add kitchen accent lighting is to use lights inside of your cabinets. This really works when you have a cabinet or cabinets with glass doors. Adding glass shelves within those cabinets also helps the light to travel.

If you do not have glass front cabinet doors, you can still add accent lighting inside of your cabinets. However, those lights truly are there to perform a task. You open the door and engage the switch and then the light turns on enabling you can see better inside of the cabinets.

interior cabinet lighting

The use of mini spot lights works well for the glass front cabinets. They are small enough but also provide enough accent lighting to enhance the look and feel of your kitchen. This also means that your guests will see everything inside of your cabinets. So, time to buy pretty dishes and glasses!

Here are some spot lights for the inside of your cabinets. They are hard wired and easy to install especially if you have an open soffit area above your cabinets. These come in multiple color temperatures and have a nice flush look inside of your cabinets. 

Kitchen Drawer Lighting

Lighting inside of your kitchen drawers are not commonly found but will add an upscale element to your kitchen. With kitchen drawer lighting, there will be a small switch that will engage whenever you open your drawer. This type of lighting is used mostly within the silverware drawers or other drawers where added visibility may be needed.

With this type of lighting, we recommend looking into battery operated or low voltage lighting where the controller is plugged into an outlet, then thin gauge low voltage wiring can be run to the various cabinets.

kitchen drawer lighting

Installing kitchen drawer lighting is not difficult but it can be intricate work that will twist you into a pretzel as you try to run the wires through the cabinets. This is where the battery operated options become attractive. Although you will need to replace batteries, the ease of installation is a huge benefit.

We are recommending the Hafele LED kitchen drawer light kit. It comes with a peel and stick light strip, a switch and also the power driver. Check the pricing on Amazon now.

Toe Kick Lighting

Toe kick lighting is another added kitchen accent lighting element that you see in some high-end kitchens. The idea here is similar to that of the above cabinet lighting except you are lighting the bottom of the cabinets along the floor.

toe kick lighting

Similar to the other types of lighting, these should be controlled by one switch and preferably a dimmer. The lighting used here will also be similar to what you would use above the cabinets.

For the toe kick, we are going to recommend the same strip light as we did for the over cabinet lighting.

Track Lighting

Track lighting can be an effective way to add accent lighting to your kitchen. However, not in the way that track lighting was used in the 70s and 80s. The purpose here is to use smaller LED recessed lights to direct light specifically on areas or items in your kitchen that you would like to bring attention to.

kitchen track lighting

Add track accent lighting to paintings, decorative objects, spaces in your kitchen such as your center island or even the front of your cabinet doors. Once again, these should have their own dimmer switch.

We prefer LED track lighting that comes in a kit. We also researched the ones with the most positive reviews.  Click to see the recommended Kitchen Track Lighting on Amazon.


You can see from the description and images above that kitchen accent lighting can make a huge difference. This is also a great way to create an inexpensive facelift to an existing kitchen. You can keep your cabinets, add granite counters, paint the room and use lighting to make your kitchen a show place

With the risk of being repetitive, use a dimmer with all kitchen accent lighting options except the kitchen drawer lighting. Read out article on how to choose a dimmer switch because you will likely need to select dimmers for many lighting situations in your home.


  1. Janet B Knox September 20, 2019
    • The Tutor October 1, 2019