The kitchen and dining rooms are two key areas in the home where lighting is a game-changer. As there are usually enough pot lights in these spaces to meet any functional needs, the point of additional light fixtures is usually to actualize a more purposeful and powerful design narrative. Yes, we have tiling, countertops and handles and pulls that often have varying degrees of visual interest, but for the average kitchen, the pendants above the island can have exponentially way more impact than all of the other items combined. It’s that statement necklace or pair of earrings that can take the little black dress from church to the Oscars.
Here are some of my personal tips and tricks to keep in mind when choosing kitchen lighting:
Size and Scale
The number one error I see in the kitchen is pendants that are too small. If you don’t remember anything else, then remember this; It’s always safer to go slightly larger than smaller with kitchen lighting. It breaks my designer soul when I see a gorgeous kitchen with expensive tiling, a waterfall countertop, beautiful hardware…but with little bitty 8” round pendants above the island. Having fixtures that are incorrectly scaled stops the eye from being able to carry that beautiful kitchen story upwards. It also can cheapen the impact of the overall kitchen. A general rule of thumb to ensure you’re choosing adequate-sized pendants is to make sure the overall collective length of your pendants is approximately 50% of your overall kitchen island.
Finish & Opacity
When playing with scale, you should also consider the overall finish and opacity levels of your pendants. For example, when using a glass pendant, you’re able to go even larger with the size because the opacity will balance out the overall volume. Conversely, when using a darker or richer material like black metal or brass, you’ll want to be a little more on the nose with the overall sizing because visually, these darker textures take up more visual weighting.
Quantity + Quality
Although I’m being relatively stringent with rules around scale with kitchen lighting, there’s much more leeway around the actual type and style of the fixture. A kitchen island does not need to have exactly 2 or 3 pendants above it. Scale and balance can be achieved in so many different ways. For example, if you just love the look of an elegant teardrop glass pendant but the size just seems a little meek, instead of opting for 3, go for 8. Combining and grouping smaller pendants to create an overall larger shape can be so chic and compelling to look at. Vice versa, if you love the look of a larger chandelier with mixed globes, or even a linear mobile chandelier, opt for a single chandelier as opposed to individual pendants. It really comes down to making sure that there is enough visual weight being dispersed from top to bottom and echoing similar textures and tones to amplify your story.
It is so important to consider lighting choices when building or renovating a kitchen. I’ve seen somewhat questionable choices in kitchen finishes, cabinetry and door profiles and completely brought back to life with the right added lighting, because ultimately, lighting unifies the kitchen and ties it all together. When designing a kitchen, having the help of a designer to guide and help along the way is well worth the money. However, if that simply isn’t in the budget, then at the very least, spend the money on a good designer consultation to ensure your lighting choices will not only complement your vision but bring the rest of your kitchen to life. Because that’s the power of kitchen lighting.
Featured Image: Louis He