Think in terms of layers of light: task lighting to illuminate the work space and ambient, indirect light to add overall brightness that will also make the space look larger. Don’t rely on just one light source, but rather, illuminate all corners in a small kitchen. If you can’t see the space because it’s dark, it’s as if the square footage isn’t there. Keep fixtures sleek and simple so they don’t make the kitchen feel cluttered or crowded.
Track fixtures work well for kitchens because they can be angled to illuminate every nook and cranny and are dimmable. What’s more, they are inexpensive and readily available at most home improvement stores. Also a must, under cabinet lighting adds depth and dimension to a kitchen, as well as practical illumination for counter tops and cooking areas. You’ll feel as if you have more work space, because you can see it better, and the kitchen will seem much warmer and more comfortable. If your cabinets don’t extend all the way up the the ceiling, consider illuminating that upper area to add another subtle layer of light.
With a kitchen that’s really small and dark, you may want to knock down the top half of a wall to let in some natural light. Use the lower half to create a bar/counter area with an overhang and some stools underneath. On the kitchen side of the lower wall, install some cabinets or shallow open shelving for added storage.
Another suggestion: utilize the reflectability of lighter colors. If your current kitchen seems to be dark and small, consider going to a lighter color of cabinetry. White cabinetry opens the room up greatly and has a very clean feel.