How to Light an Outdoor Kitchen for Maximum Ambiance

An outdoor kitchen gives you an amazing opportunity to spend more time outdoors, cooking up delicious meals—whether for the family or as you host a get-together. Unfortunately, after the sun goes down, cooking in the dark is a challenge, to say the least. You need enough light to see what you’re doing and to make sure you’re cooking food to perfection. A little light also makes your outdoor kitchen a much more inviting and attractive space to entertain. 

The solution? Customize your outdoor living experience with lighting designed to maximize visibility, without sacrificing ambiance. Here are some great ideas to guide you as you decide how to best illuminate your outdoor kitchen.  

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Outdoor kitchen lighting concepts

From outdoor kitchens with a modest grill and dining area to full-fledged kitchens with a wide range of cooking appliances, lighting makes any space more appealing—and more useful. The good news is that there’s no shortage of options when it comes to outdoor lighting. As you’re planning a lighting strategy, consider fixtures that are ideal for lighting an outdoor kitchen:

  • Market (string) lights. These café- or patio-style lights are incredibly popular for good reason—they give any outdoor space some extra character and charm, and they’re also easy to adjust if you need extra light in a particular area. They’re easy to hang from perfectly positioned trees or fence posts, or you can install support posts yourself and hang the lights over your cooking space. You’ll give your outdoor kitchen a cozy glow with lights that twinkle and shine overhead.
  • Sconce lighting. For a discrete yet attractive lighting solution, sconce lights add warmth and ambiance, and they’re easily installed on a variety of features. Add them to fences, poles, handrails, decking, pergolas or any other flat surface. They’re ideal for task lighting, directing light downwards so you can see what you’re doing.
  • Post and pipe lighting. If you have a fence enclosing part of your outdoor kitchen, post and pipe lighting is an ideal way to bring extra illumination to the space. These fixtures direct light downward, providing just enough light to help you see what you’re doing, without being overpowering. Fence lighting is a great way to light for ambiance, too.
  • Ledge lighting. Under-countertop lighting is both beautiful and functional, offering indirect light that casts a cozy glow and highlights stonework around built-in appliances like grills, smokers and refrigerators. Best of all, ledge lighting is unobtrusive and highly customizable. Adjust the warmth and intensity of these out-of-sight lights to change the mood from intimate dinner to birthday bash and beyond. 
  • Hardscaped well lights. Add beauty, ambiance and warmth to your outdoor space with hardscaped well lights. They’re great for uplighting trees or highlighting the unique features of your yard and the architecture of your outdoor kitchen and your home. Embedded in the pavers underfoot, they’re also practical and can give you a sense of depth when it comes to navigating an outdoor kitchen after dark. 

Having trouble picking between these lighting options? A layered lighting strategy works best for any outdoor environment, from simple patios to pools, grilling areas to fully-appointed outdoor kitchens. Mix and match fixtures to highlight the unique architecture of your outdoor cooking area and your landscaping. 

Outdoor kitchens deserve optimal lighting

Lighting sets the tone for any space, both inside and outside the home. If you’ve taken the time to create a dedicated outdoor kitchen, why not make the most of it by investing in quality lighting? Choose the right fixtures for your space and take food preparation and outdoor entertaining to the next level.

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