Does it feel like the walls are closing in every time you walk into the kitchen? Does the space feel small, tight and cramped? The kitchen is the worst room in the home to have poor lighting. If you’re not blessed with lots of natural light, it can make things tricky. However, you shouldn’t have to squint when you do the dishes or chop vegetables. And you don’t have to live with a dark kitchen. There is plenty you can do to brighten up a dark kitchen. Even better, it doesn’t need to cost the Earth. Here’s how you do it.

Brighten up a dark kitchen: Let there be light!

If you have a dark kitchen the obvious way to brighten it up is to add more lighting. The simplest solution is to just use brighter bulbs. The standard wattage for the kitchen is 60 watts. However, by going for the maximum wattage for each fixture – typically 80 watts or 100 watts – you can make your dark kitchen brighter in an instant. What’s more, you can still use energy-saving bulbs too. You could even consider swapping your traditional bulbs for LED lights. LED bulbs have more lumens for the same wattage as other types of bulb.

If you have a dark kitchen, recessed lighting seems like an obvious solution. Recessed lighting will transform the feel of the kitchen space. You can place recessed lights in the ceiling so that they don’t interfere with natural sight lines. They can also be placed in upper cabinets, so that the room feels the benefit of the entire light shining down. Another approach is to think strategically about where to place recessed lighting. Think about the areas of the kitchen that need the light the most, such as food preparation areas and the sink. These are the areas that should be targeted first. Begin where the light is needed most and work from there.

Alternatives to recessed lighting

Despite all the obvious advantages, recessed lighting is not always practical. If it isn’t viable in your kitchen, clamp lamps could be the answer. These versatile and handy lights can be easily fixed to any wall or ceiling.

Similarly, if you already have recessed lighting but it’s not quite doing the job for you, you could swap them for pendant lighting. Some conversion kits can be simply screwed into the existing recessed lighting fixtures.

With a dark kitchen, under-cabinet lighting can be a godsend. These days, there are a range of options, including fluorescent bars and LED strips. This means that you will definitely find an under-cabinet lighting solution to suit your needs. Under-cabinet lighting also allows you to show off what you have on view on you countertops. Of course, normally this would always literally be in the shadows of the upper wall cabinets. Whether it’s a backsplash or cookware you want to showcase, you can showcase it effectively and inexpensively with under-cabinet lighting solutions.

Add white or lighter and brighter colours

Having done all you can to improve the lighting in a dark kitchen, there are still plenty of other ways you can lighten and brighten the space. Changing the colour of the walls up to include more vibrant and bright colours is a good move. For those of you who are a little less bold, you can still incorporate a bit of vibrancy with little pops of colour such as with brightly-coloured ceramics, or maybe a piece of art.

An alternative to bright colours would be to go back to one of the all-time classic kitchen looks – an all-white kitchen. The result is a space that looks and feels much bigger and brighter. When all is said and done, you won’t find a better way to bounce light around the room. White is a perennial favourite in the kitchen that will make any small space look instantly larger.

Another way to create the illusion of light and space is to place a mirror on the wall in the kitchen. For the best effect, hang a mirror directly opposite a window. This will enable the maximum amount of light to get bounced around the kitchen.

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Choose lighter colour schemes

It’s a misconception to say that dark colours should be avoided in the kitchen. Even in relatively small spaces, the inclusion of dark colours can be extremely effective. However, if the space is small and already short of natural light, darker colour schemes tend to make the room feel oppressive and smaller. Add metallic tones to the design to help reflect light. If you go for stainless steel throughout: the sink, fridge, and other appliances, light will disperse naturally throughout the room.

Dark woods – good as they look – are probably not the best choice for cabinets in a dark and small space. If you have a dimly lit kitchen, dark woods will suck what light you do have out of the space.

Cabinets take up a large proportion of the space in any kitchen, so choosing lighter colours will really help to make the room appear a bit brighter and more welcoming overall.

It’s okay to be bold but avoid busy designs

When it comes to flooring, countertops and accessories, you can make a dark kitchen feel lighter, brighter and more open with a bit of careful thought. Splashes, accents of bold and bright colours can work well, but any design that is too busy and overly fussy will have a detrimental effect. If you want your kitchen to feel open and inviting, you really want people’s eyes to travel freely throughout the space. If things are too busy, complicated or cluttered, this will disrupt the flow. Having a focal point or statement feature for the kitchen us fine. However, the overall flow and feel of the room should not be hindered. A streamlined and minimal look is better when you are working with smaller or darker spaces.

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Tricks and tips to take advantage of light in a dark kitchen

Natural light is the most desirable type of light there is. So, this means that you should make the most of whatever natural light you have. After all, natural light is free! Windows – if you have them in the kitchen – need to be shown some love. Don’t block the light with window treatments. If you concerned about privacy, you can find a privacy film that is designed to still allow light to flow into the space. Sheer curtains or blinds are going to be a better option than dark curtains. Finally, don’t clutter the windowsill. Quite simply, the more natural light you have in the kitchen, the bigger it will feel overall.

Another way to take advantage of light in a dark kitchen is to make natural light to work for you. As previously mentioned, mirrors are one way of doing this. However, there are other ways to make the light bounce around the kitchen. Reflective surfaces, such as stainless steel, will do just that. A gloss-tiled backsplash will be just the ticket too. Finding any way you can find to let the light travel round the kitchen will make the space feel larger and more inviting.

Open-up the space to the other rooms

It might not be an option for everyone, and it’s a bit more complicated than the other options – but if it is practical to open-up your dark kitchen to other rooms, then it is definitely an opportunity you should grab with open arms!

You can create a line of sight into the kitchen and make use of the light from another room. You can remove a wall completely or simply create a window to another room to feel the benefit of extra light. This can be a good option if you have a load-bearing wall, as it doesn’t need a support beam – which can add significantly to the cost of a project.

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What about transforming your dark kitchen with a full refit?

Of course, sometimes you can get the feeling that a fresh start is the best way forward. While there are plenty of things you can do to brighten up a dark space, when it comes to the kitchen you often just know that it’s time for a full kitchen remodel. If that’s the case for you, Kitchen Warehouse definitely have a design and style for you. From the classic and timeless look of Shaker kitchens to the ultra-modern glossy vibe of handleless kitchens, there are a vast range of options at your disposal. Simply take your time browsing all the fabulous looks on the website. Alternatively, come into our showroom in Ripon to see what we have to offer in the flesh. Feel free to get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team if you have any questions or queries. We are always on hand to help you move from your dark kitchen to the light and brightness of a brand-new kitchen design.