Stagger small light fixtures above the island to bring light to a wider area. The pendants seen here complement the open layout and country style of this kitchen without obstructing the view of the charming red plaid fabric inset in the cabinets or the detailed backsplash and range hood.
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Outfit deep pantries and corner lazy-Susan cabinets with automatic lights, just like the refrigerator, so when the door opens, even back shelves are visible.
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With a bevy of activities going on in a kitchen, good lighting is a must. Create a layered lighting plan by drawing on three different “layers” of light. Ambient lights are fixtures that offer overall illumination; task lighting sources focus light on specific areas to make performing tasks easier; and accent lighting highlights specific features within a room, such as architecture or displays.
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Whether you’re updating your current home or doing an entire overhaul, get inspiring ideas here.
Consider flexible cable or rail lighting over an island or peninsula. Pendants and accent spotlights can be moved or changed out easily.
Undercabinet task lighting comes in strips, pucks, or mini tracks and utilizes low-voltage halogen, xenon, compact fluorescent, or LED lights. “You want the light to be toward the front of the cabinet so you’re lighting where you’re working,” Scarborough says.
Make a statement with a chandelier by the sink window. “With a beautiful faucet below, it’s like jewelry accessorizing the kitchen,” says Sarah Michalowski, a certified kitchen designer (CKD) and NKBA member in the Minneapolis area. “It’s kind of neat to find chandeliers in unexpected places.”
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Accent lighting beneath cabinets can also add extra task lighting to the work spaces beneath them.
Cylindrical pendants with linen shades extend the space vertically and supply artistic interest and practical lighting above the island. Crystal finials add a touch of sparkle.
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Lighting contributes to a kitchen’s overall look and feel, as seen in this contemporary setting. Cylindrical pendants of varying diameters hang over the island in a staggered pattern to provide fashionable function.
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The antique look of these glass pendants adds old-fashioned charm to a modern kitchen. Polished-nickel hardware echoes the stainless-steel appliances, and a heavy chain anchors the fixture to the ceiling.
Accent lighting includes strip fixtures placed inside glass-front cabinets to spotlight collections, sconces highlighting a textured wall, and directional spotlights washing down over a gallery wall.
Ambient light can come from a variety of sources: recessed “cans” in the ceiling, toe-kick lighting around base cabinets and islands, tracks, pendants, and above-cabinet fixtures.
Some kitchens call for a bit of sparkle. Here, a curvaceous crystal chandelier adds glamour and a bit of the unexpected to an otherwise subdued gray kitchen.
Choose trim for recessed ceiling lights that makes a visible difference. White trim disappears and brushed metal creates a subtle contrast, but a grouping of cans with black trim can look like polka dots.
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The trio of pendants over this island shed a warm glow onto the large work space. Glass shades like these can often be swapped out, which gives you the freedom to try a new look without a lot of work.
Set your kitchen apart with lighting that matches your style. Get inspired by lighting in every shape, size, style, and material, and then decide what is right for your kitchen.
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Ambient light makes your kitchen’s first impression. “That is going to set the whole mood of the space,” says Terry Scarborough, a certified master kitchen and bath designer (CMKBD) and NKBA member in the New York City area. “You want the room to be welcoming.”
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Track lighting was installed in this kitchen to spotlight functional areas around the perimeter of the kitchen, shedding light on important work spaces.
Big is beautiful! Embrace the trend of large-scale lighting fixtures.
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Pick a range hood with lights on the front and back for cooking and highlighting the backsplash. Add task lighting above or around downdraft ventilation systems.
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The minimalist design of these contemporary drum-style pendants works well in a variety of settings. The fixtures are large enough to cast plenty of light on work surfaces, yet with thin, white shades and soft edges, they give the kitchen an open and airy feel.
New Lighting Trends See the 5 newest trends in kitchen lighting.
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The organic shape and repeating arrangement of these small pendants works beautifully in this kitchen. Hung at different heights in somewhat random groupings, the shades add subtle variations to the natural look.
You need task lighting wherever people do close work — food prep areas, the range and sink, the kids’ homework spot on the island, or a desk where a laptop is used. “People won’t work on a countertop if there’s not good lighting above it,” Scarborough says. “They’ll shy away from it and go to another part of the kitchen. As we get older, we need better lighting because our eyes change.”
Use frosted lamps to avoid the glare of undercabinet lighting bouncing off shiny surfaces such as polished granite.
Large kitchens and hefty light fixtures go hand in hand. This kitchen, with its high ceilings and spacious floor plan, requires fixtures substantial enough to balance the space. Chandeliers made with interlocking circles hang above a pair of islands. In a neutral space, intricate lights add detail needed to keep the space interesting.
Mixing and matching light fixtures creates a collected look especially appropriate for an eclectic kitchen like this one. This kitchen looks like it evolved over time and mixes industrial pieces — such as the light fixtures and metal chairs — with the traditional cabinetry. The light fixtures seen here relate to each other while keeping with the unfitted look of this historical home.
Show off that beautiful island base with downlights hidden beneath the countertop.
Kitchen lighting should be as functional as it is fashionable. Here, two wall-mount lights in a brushed-nickel finish illuminate the range and the prep area surrounding it and fit right in with the metal hood and range.
Add elegance and drama to an island or peninsula with a chandelier. “They make some really great linear chandeliers — very long and narrow — and over a peninsula, they can be gorgeous,” Michalowski says.
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Infuse even more of the cottage vibe into a kitchen by using a piece of thick rope to hang a pendant. The texture of the rope and the painted metal shade on the vintage pendant give the space a lived-in and comfortable feel.
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Light fixtures with vintage appeal perfectly accent this French country kitchen. Two matching lantern-style fixtures light the island, in addition to the recessed ceiling lights. While the rest of the kitchen features light-color paint and bleached-wood cabinets, the dark iron pendants give the room weight.
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Ideally, each lighting layer should be on a separate circuit and controlled by dimmer switches, which allow you maximum flexibility in setting moods.
Everything about this kitchen is traditional: the painted white cabinetry, the dark hardwood floors, and the dramatic coffered ceiling. Instead of using recessed lights in each coffer, the homeowner installed small, semiflush fixtures. Over the island a two-light chandelier adds another layer of lighting, while the wall of unadorned windows floods every inch of the space with even more light.
Sleek pendants with metal shades echo the stainless-steel apron-front sink, cabinet hardware, and commercial-style faucet in this kitchen. The lights are attached to the ceiling by an unobtrusive cable, keeping the overhead space open.