How to Enhance Your Granite or Marble benchtop with Lighting

Photo of Dajaman Contemporary Kitchen by Christine Hill

Author Bio: Lisa Wetherell runs the blog Lighting House – where she writes about her knowledge gained from 10 years of industry experience in the lighting and interior design field. To learn more about how lighting can improve your space, you can follow her blog.

When installing marble or granite benchtops there is more to think about that may be obvious. Choosing the type, size and shape of the marble or granite that works best in the property are main considerations. But in order to make the most of your final selection, you will need to pay plenty of attention to lighting.

When properly lit, your marble and granite benchtops will come alive. They are usually installed as a major feature of any room, be it a bar, hotel reception, nightclub bathroom or home kitchen. Granite and marble benchtops are not cheap, so it makes perfect sense to do everything possible to enhance them… and lighting is the best way to do that.

The below guide will help you to choose the perfect lighting to make your granite or marble benchtops the focal point you intended them to be:  

Take colours and styles into consideration

To ensure that your benchtops are the centre of attention, you will want to avoid installing very bright or bold. Your benchtops might contain subtle hues that are greatly complemented by the right level of lighting, so you won’t want to wash those out with blanket lighting.

For example, if installing a white marble slab with dark grey veins like this one, you would do well to go for stainless steel or brushed nickel light fittings, which will really make it shine.

You will want to try out a few different bulbs to see how varying levels of intensity and hues impact the look of your benchtop. The level of brightness and intensity you choose will be dependent on details like whether the room receives a lot of natural light, what colour the walls are, whether there are cabinets shading your benchtops, and what the benchtops are actually made of.

If your benchtop is made from light coloured or white material, it will benefit from brighter light; if it is made from a darker material like this Titanium Gold Polished Granite, softer light would complement it best. A dark benchtop is going to absorb more light, so install lighting that is bright enough to compensate for that.

The most important factor is to avoid glare, as that will detract from the aesthetics of your benchtop. A lighting level that highlights the finer details of the material is ideal.

Titanium Gold Granite polished slab
Titanium Gold, a translucent granite at VSG.


Under-cabinet lighting

As mentioned above, cabinets can cast shadows over your marble or granite benchtops, and that will detract from their brilliance. However, cabinets provide an ideal spot for placing lighting that actually illuminates the whole surface, so you can use them to your advantage. After all, there is nothing prettier than a marble benchtop with quartz crystals glinting in an ambient room.

It may be advantageous to have cabinets above and around your benchtops, especially as lights on the ceiling can’t always properly illuminate them. Depending on what you’re using the benchtops for, under-cabinet lighting acts as the perfect task lighting. This is also a remedy for lack of natural light in a room.

For example, if used in bathrooms, it not only highlights the benchtops; it also creates more visibility when washing your hands. In kitchens this kind of lighting helps with food prep and other kitchen activities. The proximity of under-cabinet lights to your benchtops means the hues, textures and unique details of the material you’ve used can be perfectly highlighted.

The best lighting for this is pucks – circular lights installed at regular intervals, such as every 6 to 10 inches. They create pools of light on the benchtop surface, which really makes it stand out. You can also install strips if you want to distribute an even amount of light. Lastly, note that the benchtop is likely to create some level of reflection, so you won’t want to install lights that shine directly onto it; opt for light fittings with a lens over the bulb, as those won’t create quite as much of a reflection.

Island pendants

Pendant lights have long been a top choice for kitchen task lighting, and in particular, to highlight a stunning benchtop. They are certainly one of the best options, especially when you select a fitting that goes with the style of your granite or marble.

Titanium Gold benchtop with island pendants.

You don’t need to choose just the one, of course. Installing a few smaller pendant lights can look even better. This works well in bars, but it can also do wonders for the look of a kitchen. When installing your light fitting, position it between 28 and 34 inches above your benchtop for best effect.

There is a world of lighting options to complement your benchtop, depending on the type of material you’ve used. Industrial-inspired fittings look wonderful with white marble, for instance… or perhaps you will want to go for an antique-style pendant with an ambient bulb to bring out the best in a dark and mysterious granite surface.

Marble benchtop with lighting
White Macaubas island benchtop

Backlighting with LED light panels

One of the best things about lighting today is that it is more versatile than ever. It is now possible to achieve all manner of wonders when it comes to lighting a room. And this is evident when you consider backlighting. A gorgeous, translucent marble benchtop with light shining through it is a sight you’ll never tire of looking at.

New York Marble transclucent
VSG’s New York Marble backlit on display at Victorian Kitchen Company, Springvale.


No longer is it necessary to depend on overhead lighting or wall-mounted fittings to make your benchtop shine. LED technology has stepped up to the plate and now there are many more options for lighting your benchtops in style.

You will surely have heard of LED light bulbs, but have you heard LED light panels? These are cutting edge lighting technology and a very popular choice with modern bars, hotels, restaurants and more. In those places aesthetics and ambience really count. And the establishments know they can’t go wrong with backlit marble or granite benchtops.

LED panels are flat light bulbs made from clear acrylic that is lit from the side using LEDs,  situated in a metal frame around the outside. You can source them in different shapes, from square to rectangle. And some specialist light providers even make panels with the LEDs embedded into the acrylic. That makes it possible to customise the panel shapes.

It is nothing new to backlight a translucent marble, onyx and resin benchtop. But LED light panels are now making it possible to light them in more uniform and practical ways. They can be placed flush under or against the benchtop, saving space; it also takes focus away from the lighting itself and puts it firmly on the particular assets of your benchtop.

Featured in this post is Titanium Gold Granite and New York Marble, two of our favourite translucent natural stones that we have in stock here at VSG. Be sure to also check out Azul Lago Marble and Himalayan Onyx to achieve that, translucent backlit effect as seen in the New York.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our selection!