Lighting Design Ideas for Outdoor Kitchens

Oct 22, 2018

Your landscape design is perfect, with layers of lush foliage that provide the greenery, color, shade, and privacy you need to make the most of your outdoor oasis.  You’ve installed essential hardscape elements like pathways and patios for convenience and added use value.  There’s even a soothing water feature and a welcoming fire pit to take your parties from daylight into the evening hours.

All that’s left is to add appropriate lighting fixtures to your outdoor kitchen to ensure you’re able to grill after the sun goes down and entertain all night long.  As with choosing proper landscape lighting to suit your functional needs and style sensibilities, you need to carefully select the lighting types and fixtures that are going to make your outdoor kitchen literally shine.  Here are a few tips for selecting the perfect lighting for your Sioux Center, Iowa outdoor kitchen.

Task Lighting

In design, form always follows function.  This means your lighting design must be functional, first and foremost.  The purpose of your outdoor kitchen is to prep and cook food, so the first thing you need to do is address functional lighting concerns like illuminating countertop and cooking surfaces.

This means applying directional lighting that will offer a wash of light over these surface areas.  While general lighting, such as wall sconces on the side of your home or a central, overhead dome light (if your kitchen has a roof or it’s located in a structure like a pavilion) could prove adequate, it isn’t ideal for your purposes.  You need bright, targeted light sources to provide ample illumination so that you don’t cut yourself chopping veggies or over- or undercook food.

If your kitchen features an attached dining/lounge area such as a bar, you should also consider adding directional lighting or simply hanging chic pendants over the bar to illuminate food while your family and friends dine.  The right task lighting reduces safety risks and creates a functional kitchen area.

Ambient Lighting

Simply illuminating countertop, cooking, and dining surfaces could leave you bumbling around in the dark whenever you leave limited lighted areas.  This is why it’s so important to pair directional task lighting with ambient light.  This is where your overhead dome light or wall sconces come into play, providing a broad wash of dimmer lighting for the entire kitchen area.

The nice thing is, you can have some fun choosing these lighting fixtures since they aren’t as functionally crucial as task lighting.  If you want to spice up an overhead light, choose a stylish chandelier or a chic drum light instead of the typical glass dome, for example, and select wall fixtures that complement the style of your home and suit your personal preferences.

Mood Lighting

Your outdoor kitchen has a functional purpose, but it’s also part of your broader exterior entertaining space.  When the cooking is done and you don’t want the glare of task lighting blinding your guests, you can swap in mood lighting to dim the glow and create a more fun and intimate aesthetic.

Rope or strip lighting can be particularly fun to play with when you arrange it under countertops or along the perimeter of the roof line to add a colorful and ethereal glow to your outdoor soirees.  With the right lighting options in place, you’ll have everything you need to make the most of your fabulous Rock Valley, Iowa backyard after dark.