Functional lighting for kitchens and bathrooms

14 June, 2022
Functional Lighting in a kitchen

Every home needs functional lighting. And lighting can help to set the mood too. Like so many things in interior design, it can be about both form and function.

We get asked a lot about functional lighting, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. These task areas are usually high traffic and focused on the job at hand. But getting functional lighting wrong can turn everyday tasks into a whole lot more hard work.

Things like cooking, washing up and mixing drinks in the kitchen, to shaving and applying makeup in the bathroom. They all need the right light, in the right location. But these are the rooms where people often get their lighting wrong. So that’s why we’ve put together this list of functional lighting tips to get you get started.


As well as being a leading interior stylist for homes up and down the east coast of Australia, Lauren Keenan is an award-winning podcast host. And in this episode of our award-winning podcast At Home with Lauren Keenan, we share our do’s and don’ts for functional lighting. And we talk to professional architectural lighting designer Mandi Kontos from Beacon Lighting. 

Keep scrolling now to read more about our interview. Or click play and stream the show here on our website or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Mandi is also a lighting consultant on The Block on Channel Nine and we will speak to her about her work on this year’s series in an upcoming episode of the podcast.


Mandi Kontos from Beacon Lighting joined Lauren on our interior design podcast. They spoke about three key types of lighting for your home – general lighting, task lighting and ambient lighting.

“People tend to think ‘let’s put in some pretty lights’ but they don’t think about how they will use the layers of lighting,” Mandi said.

General lighting is usually supplied by downlights, which allows everything to be seen. Task lighting could be pendants or strip lighting to help you with chopping food and cooking. And Mandi says ambient lighting is like ‘the jewellery of the room’ that is subtle and gives the room a nice feeling.

Lauren said on the podcast that she often works with clients to help layer the light in their home. Overlooking the importance of different types of lighting can really affect the way you’re able to use your space in the evening and at night. 

“I think we’ve all been in our own home before making improvements or stayed in an airbnb where you try to prepare food or a cheese platter and you think ‘where are the lights’? That’s because those three key lighting types haven’t been ticked off,” Lauren said.  

Mandi also says it is super important to work out how you are going to use your kitchen. That way you can design your lighting to suit the purpose for each part of the kitchen. 

Bathrooms are another place in the home that needs the right kind of light. That means having enough light in the bathroom, as well as the right type of lighting.


There are some key principles for designing your functional lighting at home. 

In your kitchen, make sure you have light above or in front of your sink. Have an extra light behind the stove, in addition to the range hood. And pendants should be functional, if possible. If not, make sure you have enough general functional lighting such as additional downlights to support your pendant light. 

Lauren and Mandi both warn against having all of your lights on one switch. Especially in the kitchen. And instead, they recommend using different switches and dimmers.

“Tell me exactly what you want to be on at what time. And then put dimmers on just about everything. Because being able to dim your light is probably the best way to control the amount of light in each of your spaces,” Mandi told our interior design podcast. 

“Especially if it is an open plan area and you’ve people watching TV in a living area and the kitchen is adjacent. If you’ve got lights on in the kitchen it is really going to annoy those in the living room,” Lauren said. 

And they both say it is best to plan early. So when you are in the early stages of your build or renovation, talk to an interior stylist like Lauren Keenan or a lighting designer like Mandi. You will have more flexibility when planning your lighting, before electricians start roughing in and limiting your options to light up your home.


Our award-winning interior design podcast is hosted by Australian interior stylist Lauren Keenan. Now in its seventh year, we help you with useful advice and great interviews with interesting people so you can create a home you love

Get in touch if you have a question or topic you want us to talk about on the show. Rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts. And subscribe there or on Spotify or iHeartRadio so you never miss an episode. 

If you want Lauren to get started on a project in your home, email It could be building, renovating or just updating your favourite room. Find out more about the services we offer at Lauren Keenan Home and check out Lauren’s portfolio of work for some inspiration. And thanks for listening!

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