There's nothing more frustrating than trying to do a task without the proper lighting. Improper lighting in the kitchen will not only cause eye strain, it will make the space unattractive for dining and entertaining. Two important items to consider when planning a lighting layout for your kitchen are how much outdoor light is available through windows, and ensuring there is both ambient and task-oriented lighting.
If you have little outdoor light to work with, you may choose to sacrifice cabinets that would otherwise block natural light. Light in a kitchen that comes from several sources is usually more pleasing to both cooks and their guests. Each workspace light should be at least 100 watts of incandescent light or 25 watts of fluorescent light. If you don't like the look of too many ceiling fixtures, proper lighting can be achieved with under-cabinet lighting.
Accent lighting is designed to highlight the best features of the room. In a small kitchen layout, you can use one ceiling-mounted fixture and recessed spotlights around the perimeter. If you have a large kitchen layout, you can have tracks installed that allow you to move workspace lighting as you please. If you want to show off dishes, glassware and other decorative items inside glass-faced cabinetry, consider special lighting mounted on the inside. Other unique lights can be mounted into toe-kicks to show off specially designed flooring.
For a general guideline on lighting a kitchen, offer at least 100 watts of incandescent light or 25 watts of flourescent light for each 50 square feet of floor space.