Pendant lights, which hang from the ceiling by a wire, chain, or pole, can offer so much to your kitchen: overall illumination, task or accent lighting, and a visual focal point. When you’re planning a kitchen remodel in your Portland home, keep the following considerations in mind.
When lighting designers talk about layering the light in a room, they mean creating an overall illumination scheme that both makes the space usable and gives it ambiance. Three basic types of illumination — overall, task, and accent — can be achieved with pendant lights, so they probably need to have a place in your kitchen. Consider pendants as part of an arrangement that could include flush ceiling fixtures, track and recessed lights, under-cabinet lighting, and wall fixtures.
Typically, pendants are used to bring the light down to illuminate a work surface, such as a kitchen island or peninsula countertop. Depending on the design of the fixture’s shade, that light can be focused just on the work at hand, or it can escape from the top and sides of the fixture to illuminate more of the room.
The variety of pendant light fixtures and shades available can seem overwhelming: clear glass globes, colored opaque glass, painted metal, bare vintage bulbs, hand-crafted art pieces, and so much more. When flipping through pictures of different fixtures, keep in mind the design of your kitchen and choose something compatible — or, for a quirky look, something completely out of left field. Because pendant lights are hanging right there for all to see, the fixture can serve as an eye-catching focal point in the room.
In general, the pendants should hang 28 to 36 inches above the surfaces they will be illuminating, although some designers suggest hanging them higher — say, 40 inches up — so they’ll be out of the line of sight. If your fixture is designed to deliver a lot of light to a work surface, but you’ll also be using the same area for dining, be sure to install dimmer switches and bulbs to soften the glow. Some pendants have cords that are retractable so that you can pull the light down when needed.
When choosing pendant lights, use common sense and don’t buy pieces that will get lost in a large kitchen, or that will overwhelm a small space. Also, resist the urge to hang so many lights that they look like they’re swarming through the air … unless that’s the intentional look you’re going for.