How to light a kitchen with vaulted ceiling

How to light a kitchen with vaulted ceiling

A kitchen with vaulted ceiling even though looks beautiful however illuminating it properly is quite challenging. Firstly because of the high height of the ceiling and secondly because of precise placement of light sources. I have tried to simplify every detail about lighting a kitchen with vaulted ceiling.

To light a kitchen with vaulted ceiling, begin with lighting the areas where a person would stand while working in the kitchen. A good method to do this is by installing gimble lights at the slope of ceiling. After that, illuminate the countertops of kitchen and lastly if there is an island or dining area in the kitchen, use a light fixture that complements these additional elements in kitchen.

Let’s see in detail how to achieve good lighting in a kitchen with vaulted ceiling.


General illumination

Well lit standing area in the kitchen makes the kitchen much more manageable and also it adds a lot to the look and feel of the kitchen

To illuminate the standing area in kitchen with vaulted ceiling gimble light can be used as their lighting direction can be adjusted.

Placement of gimble lights on vaulted ceiling.

At a distance of around 12 inches from the countertops gimble lights can be placed on the vaulted ceiling facing downwards to cast light at the standing areas of the kitchen. This helps to achieve good overall lighting in the kitchen.

If there are no cabinets in the kitchen then the light should be placed directly above half the width of countertops.

The video below demonstrates how to install gimble lights on the ceiling

Before installing gimble lights there should be proper wiring done within the ceiling.

How many gimble lights are required for kitchen with vaulted ceiling ?

A good rule of thumb to know how many gimble lights are required in a kitchen is by simply measuring the length of the kitchen cabinets in feet and dividing it by 2.

For example if the length of one side of kitchen is 6 ft then the number of gimble lights required for that side would be 3.

If the length comes out to be an odd number for example 5 or 7 then the number of gimble light required is equal to the first digit that comes in the result.

Like for a kitchen with 7 ft length the number of gimble lights required would be 7/2 = 3.5 i.e 3 gimble lights. Compared to a kitchen with 6 ft length, the gimble lights in kitchen with 7 ft length has to be more bright.

What size & how bright should the gimble lights be for kitchen with vaulted ceiling?

As the height of vaulted ceiling goes on increasing the wattage of gimble lights also increases.

Use in pair if a single gimble light does not provide enough lumens

For an aesthetic look, 5 inch gimble lights are better whereas for full functionality and power efficiency 6 inch gimble lights should be preferred.

3 inch & 4 inch recessed lights are merely for show. If they are to be used for general illumination then it is better to incorporate a separate flush mount light fixture on the ceiling that fulfills the lighting requirement.


To light the countertops with upper cabinets installed on the wall, one of three light sources (led strip light, recessed light, led tube light) can be used.

Illuminate task areas i.e. countertops

Size & Placement of recessed lights under cabinets :

distance from the wall = 4 – 6 inches

size = 3 inches

wattage of each recessed light = 5 watt

Illuminating kitchen countertops with led tube lights

LED tube or LED bar lights comes in different length which also makes them a good option to be used in that kitchen in which there are certain gaps between cabinet design.

The placement of LED bar lights is also easy.

If installed under the cabinets then the distance of led tube light from the wall = 3 inches

If there are cabinets above the countertops then ideally, the LED tube lights should be installed under the cabinets instead of the wall. This helps to cast light downwards over the countertops.

Up to here, we have discussed the two steps of lighting kitchen with vaulted ceiling, the next and final step is to illuminate the island in the kitchen with vaulted ceiling.


Illuminate island in kitchen (if any) with vaulted ceiling

The best way to illuminate island in a kitchen with vaulted ceiling is by using hanging light fixtures like pendant lights.

The detailed placement and sizing of pendant lights over island is already explained here.

Therefore, in this post i will cover some of the factors that are useful while installing pendant lights over a vaulted and pitched ceiling.

For instance, how to hang pendant lights straight if the ceiling is at an angle ?

There is a very simple solution to this problem and that is by using a canopy specifically designed for pitched ceilings i.e. sloped ceiling pendant adaptor.

After illuminating the island, the lighting design for kitchen with vaulted ceiling is completed.

Can flush mount light fixtures be used in kitchen with vaulted ceiling ?

Any light fixture should provide illumination efficiently while enhancing the look of the area in which it is installed.

A flush mount light fixture if installed on a vaulted ceiling, can provide sufficient illumination only when the ceiling is pitched from one side. A ceiling with double slant causes the light to fall more on one side

The reason is that when the ceiling is slanted from two sides, the light from flush mount light fixture gets reflected towards the countertops. This could reduce the need of installing gimble lights on the ceiling.

On the other hand if the ceiling is only slanted from one side then the light reflects in a way that reflected light spreads in the entire area providing plenty of general illumination and to some extent illuminates the task areas as well.

From an aesthetic point of view, hanging light fixtures should be preferred over flush mount light fixtures in a kitchen with vaulted ceiling. However, if there are already many hanging light fixtures already installed on the ceiling then to get a minimalist look a flush mount or semi flush mount light fixture can definitely be used.

How to manage beams in kitchen with vaulted ceiling

One of the best method to utilize beams on the ceiling is by adding some light fixture on them. For instance track lights. In a separate article i have discussed in detail about using track lights on beams. See the article here

In vaulted ceiling beams can be used in a completely unique way. For instance, suppose a chandelier is of short length and it is to be installed over the island in kitchen.

Therefore, we can add another beam on the two adjacent beams at desired length for that chandelier to be easily installed over the island at a desired height.

At the end, it all boils to the creativity of lighting design to utilize beams. Some designers utilize beams to add string lights on the ceiling which would otherwise be difficult to add on a normal straight ceiling without beams.

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Chandelier or pendant lights what to install over island in kitchen with vaulted ceiling ?

A large size kitchen island needs illumination over a large area. Now in order to efficiently illuminate the kitchen island, pendant lights are better than chandeliers. Simply because there is no waste of energy and light falls only where it is required.

However, where pendant lights have the limitation of illuminating only a small area, a chandelier on the other hand does not have this limitation.

This means that when there are no other light sources in the kitchen, a chandelier can be installed over the island which would not only illuminate island but also provide general illumination in the kitchen.

Similarly when the lighting requirement is at only the island of kitchen lighting designers use pendant lights over the island.

Are skylights a good source of light for kitchen with vaulted ceiling ?

According to analysts, natural light has an illumination of around 100000 lumens per sq meter. This means that if the frame of skylight is 1m wide and 1m long then it would prvide an illuination of 98000 lumens over only 1 sqm area of kitchen

Since most kitchens has a lumen requirement of 8000- 10000 lumens. A skylight on a bright sunny day and based over the positioning of frame, a skylight can be an excellent source of light for general illumination. These structures within the ceiling allows natural light to enter in the area below.

A skylight is basically a large flush mount light fixture which provides free natural light.

Kitchen requires lighting with color temperature of daylight white, skylights provides exactly that light reducing the need of any artificial source of light.

Now during day the kitchen will receive plenty of light however it is during night that a separate light fixture is needed. Hence, sources that matches with the skylights should be preferred.

Light sources like spot lights, track lights are well matched and looks coordinated with skylights.

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