What Is the Best Lighting for a Galley Kitchen (Inspiration Photos Included)?

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Galley kitchens are very popular, primarily because of their ability to pack a lot of useful features into a small amount of space. But galley kitchens can feel cramped and confined. Fortunately, homeowners can use lighting to their advantage to make galley kitchens seem spacious.

The best lighting options for a galley kitchen include recessed, pendant, and chandelier lights. Puck lights, under-cabinet lights, and recessed lighting are great for illuminating small tasks. Use decorative lighting sparingly, but passive lighting techniques (like bright paint colors) are a must.

Have you found yourself wondering about the best types of lighting for galley kitchens, as well as some other general tips about how to make the most of your galley kitchen? This quick guide can help inspire you and get you headed in a bright direction.

About Galley Kitchens

The term ‘galley kitchen’ comes from ships and trains that contain galleys instead of kitchens. These galleys are, by necessity, long and tube-shaped. In order to maximize the efficiency of cooking, galleys were organized in ways that prioritized safety. But where does your home come into this history lesson?

Galley kitchens are a popular kitchen layout that features all of your kitchen appliances, cabinets, and countertop space along two parallel walls. This creates a kind of corridor where your free kitchen floor space is. Galley kitchens are popular because you can put your sink, stove, and fridge in the ideal pattern for the most efficient cooking and food preparation.

A galley kitchen can come in all kinds of modified forms and designs that open up space and make it more of a social zone. Many people like the aesthetic effect of a galley kitchen, and still more enjoy its convenience.

However, these kitchens do have their downsides. You’ll mourn the sacrificed floor space when several people decide to enter the kitchen at once. And if your kitchen leads to another room, rather than containing a back wall, you might rue the day you got a galley kitchen.

Still, galley kitchens remain popular for the sheer efficiency they provide. It doesn’t hurt that you can do a lot of things to make them seem less closed off and confined, including installing some diverse lighting fixtures.

The Best Lighting for a Galley Kitchen

Lighting is always a consideration when doing a home renovation, but it holds special importance with galley kitchens. Because of how confined they can be, you naturally want the best possible light to make it more illuminated.

This is especially true of galley kitchens that don’t open up to the rest of the house. These closed kitchens won’t enjoy any light from living room fixtures or windows, so you’ll need to ensure you have plenty of lighting options inside your kitchen.

Thankfully, there are many lighting solutions to make your galley kitchen feel more like home and less like a prison. Ideally, you want as much light as possible and as little shadow as possible.

In galley kitchens, shadows tend to congregate in corners, under cabinets, and on work surfaces such as the stove. Adequate lighting is crucial for minimizing the downsides all galley kitchens have. Pairing a solid main lighting fixture with several task lighting options might be the best way to go.

Main Lighting

Your main or central lighting comes from a series of lights installed in the ceiling. There are a wide variety of lights designed for this purpose, but which are best?

Because a galley kitchen has a boxy shape and lots of angles, homeowners should use a variety of lights to keep counters and appliances well lit.

  • Recessed or canned lighting that’s flush with the ceiling can be a great addition to your kitchen, provided they’re equipped with LED bulbs. These have a sleek look to them that doesn’t intrude on the actual space of the kitchen, making them ideal for homes with lower ceilings.
  • Pendant lighting is a form of hanging light fixture resembling jewelry. If equipped with proper bulbs, these can be a very stylish and classic method of lighting your kitchen.
  • Chandeliers are a classic. But because of the length of a typical galley kitchen, it may make more sense to opt for two or three smaller chandeliers across the length of the ceiling, with headspace and ceiling height in mind.
  • Track lighting, with adjustable lights at various angles as determined by the track, are a great and classy way to light your kitchen with multiple angles in mind.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is used to highlight smaller and more particular areas. This lighting type is used in kitchens to provide extra light to countertops, stoves, and other work surfaces. In essence, task lighting makes it easier to see fine details when performing a task.

  • Recessed lighting behind your stovetop and countertops can help brighten up your cooking, allowing you to better focus on any minute details you need to pay attention to. Its flush look helps streamline your kitchen and brighten it at the same time!
  • Puck lighting is an increasingly popular alternative to ‘outdated’ recessed lights. These pucks can be placed on just about any surface and offer slightly brighter lighting compared to recessed lights.
  • Under-cabinet lighting often consists of light bars attached to the underside of your cabinets. Because most surfaces in a galley kitchen are under the cabinets, this is a smart and subtle lighting solution that helps you to see what really matters: the food!

Accent Lighting

Accent or decorative lighting is tricky because you don’t want too much, or it runs the risk of distracting from the positive features of your kitchen. With the right accent lighting, you can fool visitors into thinking that your kitchen is far larger than it truly is.

  • Under-cabinet lighting also functions as an accent light in areas where you normally don’t spend much time performing tasks.
  • Lighted switch plates are popular for their ability to add accentuation to an area normally thought little about. They provide little light but make a nice conversation starter.
  • Rope lights are a fun way to lighten up your kitchen, and not just because they glow! They add a whimsical touch to any kitchen that needs some metaphorical brightening up and can be designed in many different fashions.

Passive Lighting

Lights illuminate your kitchen, but they aren’t the only way your kitchen seems bright. There are tons of ways to passively highlight and complement the different aspects of your kitchen without actually using any kind of electric light.

Avoid dark paints that cast shadows and swallow light, and instead, opt for light colors like beige and grey. Utilize light-colored countertops and flooring choices that complement each other and the lighting you choose.

If you have a window or a window that fits with your design choices, they can be a great source of natural lighting that softens the overall feel of your kitchen and lessens the need for using your electric lighting. When it comes to passive lighting, make active choices about brightening up your space.

Final Thoughts

Galley kitchens are convenient, space-saving solutions to any home. However, they can feel cramped and claustrophobic. Luckily, the right lighting choices can make your galley kitchen feel much more inviting. By the way, here are some fun hexagon touch lights you can use to spice up your kitchen!

From understated to classy, there are tons of main, task, and accentual lighting options waiting to be installed in your kitchen today. Choosing bright paint for your kitchen walls and installing light-colored countertops can also help. Small space doesn’t mean you can’t have a bright kitchen!

Galley Kitchen Inspiration Photos