How to Space Recessed Lights In a Kitchen

Recessed kitchen lights help illuminate an entire kitchen from the cutting board and counter to the sink and dishwashing area.
Recessed lights, also commonly called canned lights, fit above the ceiling level. In new homes before the ceilings have been put in, they typically are nailed into joists. When remodeling a home or simply installing a new recessed lights, they typically have clips that branch out from the mouth of the recessed light directly to the surface of the ceiling.

Step 1

Note the important work areas of your kitchen, such as the sink and counter space. Set up your ladder near these areas and make a mark on the ceiling from where lights could shine where needed. Spacing these points at least 4 feet away from each other is the typical arrangement.

Step 2

Set up your laser level on the ceiling and adjust all of the marks according to the straight line given by the laser level. Try to place the marks along a major visual axis in your kitchen, such as from the center of windows to doors on the opposite end of the room.

Step 3

If you have an attic above your kitchen, unwrap a coat hanger to use as a guide. Insert one point of the coat hanger through one of the marks and shove the wire about a foot up into the ceiling. Go into the attic above the kitchen and look for the coat hanger. When you find it, check that there are at least 4 inches on either side of the hole, which should be enough for a recessed light to fit in. If there isn't, return to the kitchen and move the mark as needed. Repeat this process for all of the marks that indicate where a recessed light should go.

Things You Will Need

  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Laser level
  • Coat hangers

About the Author

Matt Scheer began writing professionally in 2005. His work has appeared in "The Daily Texan" and "The New York Tribune." Scheer holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in history, both from the University of Texas. He is also a certified Yoga teacher and Web designer.