How to Place Recessed Lighting in Front of Cabinets

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To enhance the visual effects in your home's decor, use recessed lighting. Recessed lighting can create textures or shadows, illuminate a specific area, or light up an entire room. One of the most popular places in the home to use recessed lighting is the kitchen. There are a few things to keep in mind when using recessed lighting in front of cabinets.

  • Light the whole cabinet with angled floodlights, as opposed to narrow spotlights. When placing recessed lights in front of cabinets, choose a type that can be placed at an angle.

  • Place the lights in an area on the ceiling where a light fixture already existed. This will save you the trouble of having to cut into the ceiling and rewire the area. If you have not picked out a spot yet for your cabinet, consider keeping the cabinet in an area where that wiring is already available.

  • Turn off all power through the electrical panel before you begin to work on placing your new lighting. Keep it off until the lighting has been completely installed.

  • Install the recessed lighting in a spot that is not directly above cabinets. Lights placed directly above cabinets will not light up the cabinet or the rest of your room.

  • Place a recessed light in the ceiling in front of each cabinet. The lights should be far enough away that they can be angled to light up the inside of the cabinet. This is usually about a foot.

  • Angle the recessed lights so that they light up the inside of the cabinet. That way, whenever you open the cabinet, there won't be a shadow. Instead, you'll be able to see inside the cabinet.

  • Place any other recessed lights at least 6 or 7 feet away from the one you placed above the cabinet. Recessed lighting expands, so keeping the lights too close to each other will only make the area too bright.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use wide-angle floodlights throughout the room, as well as in front of the cabinet. This will ensure the entire room is lit up evenly.



  • Photo Credit kitchen image by Rich Johnson from

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