Good lighting in a kitchen is essential for good function. The key is to balance general lighting with more specific task lighting and mood-setting accent lighting.
Recessed can lights are very versatile and are great for general lighting. Since you don't have to worry about clearances with doors or fixtures, recessed cans can be installed almost anywhere.
For task lighting, most kitchen designers recommend undercabinet fixtures. When installing undercabinet lighting, be sure to order trim for the bottom of the upper cabinets to cover the fixtures. (If you can see them, it takes away from the effect.) A good trick to know when installing this trim is to caulk the crack (on the back side) between the bottom of the cabinet and the trim itself to avoid having light shine through the crack. There are also special low-voltage strip lights, which can be installed inside cabinets. They come on automatically when the door is opened to illuminate the interior of the cabinet. This is great for pantries or under sinks.
Accent lights create ambience and add a stylish finishing touch to any kitchen. Use them to draw attention to attractive detailing, such as a dramatic range hood or vibrant backsplash, or to dress up your island. (Bold pendants do the trick). Choose pendants with both both uplighting and downlighting for maximum effect. The uplight bounces off the ceiling and gives good general light, and the downlight provides task lighting for dining or working at the table.
Dimmers allow flexibility, enabling you to change the mood for prep, dining, and clean-up. For example, ceiling cove lighting on a dimmer is multi-functional, creating good general light when needed or softer, more ambient light when light bulbs are dimmed down.