Home / Style Guide / Learn About Cabinet / Accent Lighting / Cabinet / Accent Lighting Guide Cabinet / Accent Lighting Guide Cabinet lighting systems – the key ingredient needed to successfully layer light. Residences and light commercial spaces typically contain recessed ceiling and surface-mounted lighting fixtures. A complete lighting package should also include lighting systems to properly layer the light and provide the homeowner/user a variety of lighting options to create the environment that best suits the moment. What should I light? It is a good idea to think about lighting a space, before construction or remodeling begins. Often times, the choices made impact the placement of wires and careful planning can avoid added costs, rework or contractor call-backs. Determining what to light might be easier if you think about how the space will be used and what mood or moods you are seeking to achieve. You’re better off with more than less light. With individual switches, you can always control or reduce the amount of light in a space. Once the walls are in place, it is usually difficult to add more light without incurring added expense and complexity. Under cabinets Under-cabinet lighting is one of the foundations of a well lit kitchen. Upper cabinets, by nature block a great deal of the ceiling light, creating shadows. When using the counter, people also block a percent of the available ceiling light. Supplemental light unaffected by shadows is crucial to a usable and viable counter area. That light comes from under cabinet lighting fixtures.In many cases, under cabinet lighting is also used as a night light for the kitchen. Rather than burning all the high-wattage ceiling units, cabinet lights, even at a low level (if they are equipped with a multi-level switch), will provide adequate light for most evening activities.If you do nothing else, undercabinet lighting should be included in every kitchen design. It is also important to remember that cabinets are being installed in a number of areas outside the kitchen. Don’t forget cabinet lighting in the garage, laundry room, pantry and closets. Over cabinets If the kitchen is equipped with a soffit over the cabinets, lights are impossible. If however there is an open space between the cabinet top and ceiling, lights in this area can add an element of intrigue and interest. Often times, the space on top of the cabinets is used to display collectables or is filled with plants. Lights spotting the items we care about or soft backlighting to set off the foliage can make a tremendous visual difference. If the kitchen is small, lighting over the cabinets will help to visually expand the room and give the illusion of a much larger space. Remember, 24” countertops subtract two feet from each side of the room! That space can be regained, with light. Inside cabinets / inside drawers Cabinets with translucent doors can benefit from lit interiors. If the door is clear, the light will nicely illuminate the items you have displayed inside. If the door front is etched, patterned or in some way obstructed, the soft glow emanating from the cabinet will add an element of drama to the room. In some cases, cabinets with opaque doors can benefit from lit interiors. When the space is too dark, the light can be helpful. If shelving is translucent, it becomes even more useful. If you choose to do this, however, it may be wise to investigate switching triggered by the opening and closing of the cabinet door.With the exception of those used for display, most cabinets function well with a low level of light. If a cabinet contains crystal, higher levels might be desired to showcase the cut and color. To avoid misplacing key utensils and important kitchen gadgets, lighting inside a drawer could be considered. If you choose to do this, it may be wise to investigate switching triggered by the opening and closing of the drawer. Under counters Lighting concealed under the edge of a counter can be an effective way to illuminate the interior of drawers when they have been extended. It also serves to set off the architectural edge of the counter. Under-counter lighting is a relatively new concept. If this is a lighting option under consideration, it may be wise to discuss concealment options with the countertop contractor. Toekick lighting Toekick lighting can be a great way to define the baseline edges of cabinets. It can also serve as a great nightlight, preventing accidents and adding intrigue to a room. Properly positioned, toekick lighting gives the visual illusion of floating cabinetry and can add depth to interesting floor covering. In dimly lit spaces, the subtle light will define the room’s architecture while providing added safety. Under tables / benches Adding light under tables and benches will visually enlarge the room. The dark spaces that disappeared into the corners will now come alive. Illuminating these unusual areas will set the room apart and draw interest to the space. Coves / tray ceilings Illuminating coves that travel around the perimeter of a room will draw attention upward forcing one to appreciate the full room. It also elongates the walls to give added dimension to the room. Tray ceilings are typically a mastery of millwork. Detail has been included to move away from the drab, flat slab of white. With the addition of lighting at one or more levels of the tray, the craftwork can be shown and admired.Both of these architectural details can be lit well with low lumen levels. This is not light with which to read, but instead light that helps define the architecture and space and provides visual enhancement of the living area.