Cabinet Lighting Trends

Cabinets are a key feature for both function and aesthetics in every home, especially in the kitchen. There are numerous ways in which to illuminate cabinets to showcase special décor, provide focused task lighting, and even automatically light up blind or corner cabinets when opened.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

According to Harrell Remodeling designer Debra Winston, under-cabinet lighting is the most important source of illumination in the whole kitchen. It offers concentrated, no-glare task lighting that is ideal for chopping, fine mincing, measuring, or reading recipes from the cookbook. Under-cabinet lighting is cleverly hidden from sight by adding a 1 1/2-inch light-rail mounted on the bottom front edge of the cabinet.

Accent Lighting

Lighting in glass display cabinets highlights special dishware or objets d’art. A single puck light can be built into the inside top of the cabinet or LED light strips can be recessed down the interior sides of the cabinet. With the single light option, Debra recommends having glass shelves so light shines down throughout the cabinet and brightens the entire display. Inset LED strips provide an equal amount of light from top to the bottom allowing the use of wooden shelves, and illuminating the entire cabinet evenly.


To create general ambient lighting with a subtle glow, up-lights can be installed on the tops of wall cabinets that do not go all the way up to the ceiling. They reflect off the ceiling and provide an attractive atmospheric effect. As with under-cabinet lighting, low profile up-lights can easily be hidden from view behind the cabinet crown molding. This can be a nice solution to an Eichler home where no attic means recessed cans cannot be installed.

Corner or “Blind” Cabinet Lighting

Corner or blind cabinets tend to be deep and homeowners often can’t easily see inside. Installing lights that turn on when the cabinet door is opened provides much-needed visibility, especially for blind base cabinets.

Night Lighting

A Universal design feature, installing dimmable strip lighting beneath the cabinet toe-kick functions as a night light, providing subtle illumination near the floors. This feature is especially useful in bathrooms as well as in kitchens.

“There are numerous ways to incorporate lighting in your cabinets, whether they are in the kitchen or are built-ins located in Great Rooms or Master Suites. Efficient, long-lasting LED lighting can even be connected to smart home systems, allowing the homeowner to control their entire house from one panel or remotely via a phone app,” shares Debra.

Could your home use a little illumination? Harrell Remodeling has been designing and remodeling distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. We invite you to schedule a complementary consultation with one of our talented designers to discover the possibilities for your home.

Debra has been with Harrell Remodeling Design + Build for five years. She has a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts, is an accomplished painter and quilt artist, and spent 13 years working for Ralph Lauren in New York City as a fashion designer before moving to California. She studied Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design. Debra worked as an Interior Designer prior to joining the Harrell Team in April 2014. Debra has received numerous awards for her designs, her specialty being Kitchen and Bath redesign as well as color consultations. Debra is a passionate Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), and also works on whole-house remodels and room additions.