8 Budget Kitchen Lighting Ideas

Need to brighten up the heart of your home? Check out these easy, inexpensive lighting solutions.

By: Lisa Frederick

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Quick: What's in your dream kitchen? Odds are, your mind jumped straight to custom cabinetry, pro-grade appliances or pricey stone countertops. But a well-layered lighting plan is the ingredient that ties all those trappings together. Not only is it essential for optimum function, it also creates an aura of warmth and coziness that fancy finishes can’t match.

In the average kitchen, though, a standard ceiling light — plus a couple of smaller ones above the sink and stove — are about as good as it gets. The good news? Your rescue strategy doesn't have to break the bank. Focus on light sources that don't require electrical work, and install fresh fixtures in the same spots that are wired for the existing ones. Check out these picks for affordable solutions.

If Your Budget is Tight?

Add stick-on lights.
It doesn't get easier than this: Just peel away the backing and press the puck-style units into place. They're especially handy beneath cabinets to brighten countertop workspace, above a sink that has no light source or to cast a glow into dark drawer and cupboard corners. Best of all, the price gives you a reason to stock up. $10 for three; Bed, Bath & Beyond

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Use a portable fixture with customizable function.
The battery-operated Rite Lite 9-Light LED Accent Light, available through Home Depot, crams a whole range of options into one compact package. Each of its trio of light heads pivots independently; you can tone brightness up or down by clicking a switch; and an optional motion sensor adds convenience. It would be perfect for a dim pantry or a deep cabinet. $14; The Home Depot

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Install LED Rope Lighting

Install LED rope lighting.
Flexible and easy to attach, this unobtrusive device provides a continuous stretch of gentle light. The 48-inch Utilitech Incandescent Clear Rope Light from Lowe's, shown here, is a great choice for adding extra dimension to a kitchen lighting scheme. Try it to illuminate cabinet toe kicks or above upper cabinetry for a soft top note. About $25 (pricing may vary by location); Lowes

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If There's Wiggle Room in Your Wallet?

Swap a plain ceiling light for one that multitasks.
Instead of a traditional overhead fixture that beams straight down, try a more updated approach: an adjustable model that allows you to guide light exactly where you need it. IKEA’s Tived light features half a dozen arms, each with a bulb at the tip that you can aim toward countertops, an island, an eating area or anywhere that suits the task at hand. $70; Ikea

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Consider plug-in wall sconces.
Wall-mounted lighting adds a decorative flourish as well as a gentle, pleasant glow, but rewiring for it can be a major hassle and expense. Plug-in models, like this Taper Shade Sconce from West Elm, solve both problems. The only drawback? Their cords hang down, so you'll need to find a way to conceal those if you don't like having them exposed. $79; West Elm

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Bring in an eye-catching lamp.
You might not think of a lamp as a conventional way to brighten a kitchen, but a lamp can add a subtle shine and dress up the decor. Although it can be hard to find models that won't swallow counter and shelf space, one tactic is to look for lamps intended for kids' rooms. The petite Tube Top Colors Table Lamp from Room & Board fits the bill: With a mod silhouette and a spectrum of sassy hues, it's as big on style as it is small in size. $120; West Elm

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If You're up for a Splurge?

Hang pendants in place of aging fixtures.
Old recessed cans, flush-mount ceiling lights and similar specimens can undermine an otherwise updated kitchen. Supplant them with pendants, which boost task lighting and are easy to scale to the spot where they'll hang. The Dana pendant from Rejuvenation has a sophisticated, streamlined shape that marries with almost any kitchen style. $194 with shade as shown; Rejuvenation.com

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Replace outdated track lighting with a monorail kit.
You can't dispute track lighting's utility, but there's a fresher alternative on the market. Monorail lighting provides the same targeted function, yet takes flexibility to the next level. The sinuous 5-Light Monorail Kit by George Kovacs, through Lumens, is a versatile workhorse. $240; Lumens.com

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