The modern kitchen is so much more than just a workspace. It’s the heart of your home and an epicenter of activity. Homework, socializing, entertaining, dining—everything happens in the kitchen! Creating a space that is as warm and welcoming as it is functional is a challenge, but good lighting contributes a huge amount to the life of a room.

A beautiful lighting design works hand in hand with the architecture of your kitchen. Cathedral or vaulted ceilings are hugely popular for 2012. They provide a delicious sense of space and air, and also allow for some unique kitchen lighting ideas. Try installing track lighting along the beams to provide indirect lighting. The light “bounces” off the cathedral ceiling and reflects back into the room, spreading warm, ambient glow evenly throughout the kitchen. The kitchen island is often the focus of the room. It’s where the family gathers for breakfast and friends congregate over drinks. Your kitchen lighting design should make the most of it! A cluster of decorative pendant lights suspended over the island are a source of both ambient and task lighting, and a well-chosen grouping provides a design focal point.

Your kitchen offers endless opportunities to inject a little personal style into your interior design. A traditional dish-shaped fixture over the table with an opaque glass shade provides a warm, diffused light to draw people in. How about a chandelier? The word may conjure up images of grand, formal spaces, but casual barrel chandeliers and cute vintage styles are great choices for a more casual kitchen. Under-cabinet lighting in the form of miniature fluorescent track lights or energy efficient LED units offer a clear shadowless light for your countertop workspaces, and a recessed down light over the sink makes washing the dishes easy. Glass fronted cabinets can be illuminated using in-cabinet lights to show off your collection of china or stemware. Rope lighting laid along the top of your cupboards or crown molding will provide a soft uplight for a cozy mood, and also makes the room seem larger.