Cozy or Bright: What Color Light Is Best for Kitchen Design?

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The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where you prepare hearty meals and share everyday life with your loved ones, so it’s important to make that space comfortable and functional. One way to achieve this is to choose the right color light for your kitchen. Deciding what color light is best for kitchen design can be tricky because the different zones in the space require different types of light.

Softer lights or warm white are a common choice for general kitchen lighting since they create an inviting and comfy ambiance. Use brighter, cool white for food preparation and work surfaces. Warm-dimming lights are the best option for new installs because they can achieve both.

That said, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. The best color light for your kitchen comes down to your personal taste and needs, as well as the unique style and layout of your space.

Below, we’ll explore the different light color temperatures and give you some important tips to consider when choosing a light.

Things To Consider

Things To Consider When Choosing a Light

Before updating your kitchen lighting, keep in mind a few considerations. These factors are key for choosing the right illumination range, achieving your desired ambiance, and maximizing energy efficiency.


This indicates the amount of brightness a light bulb can produce. When it comes to choosing kitchen lighting, this is a more important factor to consider than its wattage.

A 60-watt incandescent light and a 10-watt LED bulb, for example, can both emit the same number of lumens, but the LED bulb requires less energy to do it. So, higher lumens mean a brighter light.


A bulb’s wattage is the amount of energy it uses. For LEDs, this won’t be an issue since those bulbs are highly energy-efficient. But if you’re going to opt for incandescent light bulbs, the higher the watts, the higher the energy bills. Plus, a 60-watt incandescent bulb won’t emit the same brightness level as a 60-watt LED bulb.

Color Temperature

Color Temperature

Now, our main concern. Different color temperatures create a different feel and look.

When you pick the color light for your kitchen, it’s important to consider how you’re going to use it. Do you need a light under your cabinet to brighten your counters as you prepare your food? Then, go for cooler white lights for better visibility.

But to truly set a cozy and inviting ambiance in your kitchen, a warm amber glow or soft white light will do the job. Below are a few color temperature options to choose from:

Soft White

This is a warm and soothing yellow light with a color temperature ranging from 2200K to 3000K. It is often used in residential settings to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. The soft white light provides the same color range that incandescent bulbs produce.

Warm White

This is another warm yellowish light. The difference is that it has a slightly higher color temperature of 3000K to 3500K. Warm white lights are deemed to be a general-purpose fixtures since they work well in both residential and commercial settings.

Bright White

This color gives you a cooler environment with a temperature ranging between 3500K and 4100K. Bright white light, which lies between white and blue tones, is often used in commercial and industrial settings. It gives excellent visibility and clarity. However, they don’t offer the inviting feel that warm and soft white lights do.


With a color temperature ranging from 5000K to 6500K, this is the coolest and brightest white light. It mimics the natural lighting and has the highest CRI, making them a wonderful option if you want to keep the color of your kitchen. This is especially great if you have paintings hung on the wall in your kitchen.


Light Bulb’s Color Rendering Index

A light bulb’s color rendering index or CRI is a great parameter for determining the right color temperature for your kitchen. CRI is a measure of how well a light source captures colors when compared to natural light sources like the sun.

Keep in mind that good color rendering is important in the kitchen. It’s where you prepare and cook meals so it’s important that you see the real colors of your food. A CRI of 90 or higher is ideal for kitchens because it gives great color rendering.

The maximum CRI is 100. This range can render all colors perfectly, with no distortion. However, a CRI this high isn’t always the best option for all your tasks. Your surroundings may end up looking too saturated or artificial, which can be visually painful or distracting.

Plus, with a CRI of 100, you may need to use specialized light sources, which can be costly or hard to get.

Fixture Type

When it comes to choosing what color light is best for kitchen lighting, there are a few types of fixtures designed to create a specific style of lighting to meet different needs.

Ambient Lighting

This type of lighting is best for cooking. It provides even and bright light across the kitchen, which makes it also great as a chandelier, pendant light, or scone.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is ideal if you want to put focus on a specific area in your kitchen where you do a lot of preparation. This may include your kitchen island, table, and under-cabinet lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lights offer another way to put focus on areas or items in your kitchen. It’s great for creating a focal point. Track lighting, portrait light, and recessed lighting are good examples of accent lights.

Looking at the Kelvin Scale

Kelvin RangeColor TemperatureCRI Rating
2200K to 2700KWarm White70
3000K to 3500KNeutral80
4000K to 4500KCool White90
5000K and UpDaylight White95-100

These are just general guidelines. The right lighting for your kitchen will still vary based on its purpose and your needs.

Different Types of Bulbs

Lights come in different bulb types, each with its own way of emitting light.


Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the most energy-efficient type and are common in many kitchen light fixtures. These bulbs produce light by using a semiconductor. Besides being energy-efficient, LED lighting also doesn’t require frequent replacement. And they come in a variety of colors and brightness levels.


These are classic bulbs that use a metal filament to create light when an electric current is passed through them. They are known for their warm, yellowish colors. However, they are not very energy-efficient and have a short lifespan.


Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent bulb that uses halogen gas. They have higher energy efficiency and durability. The halogen gas also allows them to also produce brighter, whiter light than your traditional incandescent bulbs. These light bulbs are frequently used as task lighting.


A compact fluorescent light or a CFL produces light using a tube filled with gas with a small quantity of mercury vapor. These bulbs are also more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs. The caveat is that they might take longer to warm up and achieve maximum brightness.

CFLs can be plugged into any standard light socket in your kitchen. And they are great if you want a cooler ambiance in your space.

Smart Bulbs

These bulbs are a great addition if you want a touch of innovation in your kitchen. Smart bulbs typically use LEDs you can control wirelessly through your smartphone or voice command.

What makes them really convenient is that you can set them to go off and on automatically. You can also change the colors of the lights and comes in dimmable bulbs that let you set to your preferred brightness levels.


What Color Light Bulb Is Best for Kitchen?

Warm white lights ranging from 3000K to 4000K are ideal for kitchens. Colors between white and blue range from 4000K to 5000K and are also great for kitchens with chrome or white fixtures.

What Is the Best LED Light Color for a Kitchen?

When it comes to LED color temperature, soft white bulbs create a warm, inviting atmosphere. However, they produce a yellowish or orange hue. This makes it hard to perceive true colors in your kitchen.

Bright or cool white lights and daylight LED bulbs would be ideal if you want a bright and natural-looking fixture with a high color rendering index (CRI) and accurate color presentation.

What Type of Light Is Best for Kitchen?

LED lights are the best for the kitchen because they are energy-efficient, produce less heat, are bright, and are easy to replace. In fact, LED light bulbs are up to 80% more energy efficient than fluorescent bulbs.

Final Note

The color of your kitchen lighting can have a significant impact on your productivity and comfort. When choosing the right color light for your kitchen, consider your personal preferences and the overall design and style of your kitchen.

Warmer lights such as yellow and orange help create a pleasant and inviting ambiance. But, cooler white colors can make your kitchen appear more fresh and modern.

That said, striking a balance between functionality and how you want your kitchen to look and feel is important. Keep in mind that lighting can affect the ambiance and functionality of your kitchen.

So, make sure to take the time to choose the right color light that suits your needs and helps you create an environment that you enjoy spending time in. Good luck!