When it comes to designing or remodeling a kitchen, so much of our time and effort is spent focusing on the countertops, backsplash, and appliances that we tend to overlook yet another important element: ceiling lights. It should not go without saying that they are essential for the functionality of a kitchen, not to mention their aesthetic value. However, searching through the wide array of lighting options on the market can pose quite a challenge. The best place to start is to familiarize yourself with all of the different types of ceiling lighting fixtures to choose from.
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- Flush-mount: Flush mount fixtures sit flush against the ceiling without any drop. It's a great source of downlight, but may not be the best option for task lighting. It is also a nice option for homeowners with low ceilings.
- Semi-flush mount: A semi-flush mount will look similar to a flush mount, except it will have a short drop, or space between the ceiling and the fixture, casting an ambient glow onto the ceiling. This style of lighting allows for a bit more variety, but also works well if you have low ceilings.
- Pendant: Typically characterized by a single fixture that drops down from the ceiling, pendant lights are versatile in that they can provide both task and ambient lighting, depending on their size and shape. Pendants come in a variety of styles and are often displayed above a kitchen island or sink.
- Chandelier: Similar to pendants, chandeliers also drop down from the ceiling except they feature multiple branches or bulbs. Consider them the quintessential ambient light source.
- Track lighting: For true task lighting in the kitchen, track lights are the way to go. They provide both task and ambient lighting and are often characterized by a metal track with multiple individual bulbs attached. Each light can be directed in different locations for total coverage. Opt for LED light bulbs so you don't have to replace them as often and they will save energy, too.
- Recessed lighting: If you have low ceilings, or don't love the idea of a fixture hanging from the ceiling, then recessed (or can) lighting is a viable option. As the name suggests, the bulbs are recessed into the ceiling, and they are a great source of general illumination. Many homes already have them installed, but if not you should let the pros handle the installation.
Once you've worked out your kitchen's lighting plan, and you know what type of fixtures you need, it's on to the fun part: shopping. Scroll on for 14 kitchen ceiling light ideas that are sure to inspire a luminous finish.
1. Double up on pendant lights.
We love the idea of installing a light fixture that errs on the side of art rather than just utility. While a single kitchen pendant may not have enough power to provide the entire room with adequate lighting, doubling up can certainly help. Install a pair of matching pendants above the kitchen island for an ambient glow that will set the mood and bring a touch of drama to boot.
Get the look: Chairish Capiz Pendant Lamp, $139
2. Match the lighting to the hardware.
One of the challenges of securing the right lighting for a kitchen is finding a style that can complement the decor. Allow the room's hardware to serve as inspiration and go for fixtures in a similar metal finish. These dome-shaped pendant lights offer a modern take on retro style with a classic chain and brass finish.
Get the look: Project62 Valencia Pendant Lamp in Brass, $95
3. Offset cool metals with a warm accent.
Juxtapose the cool finish of stainless steel appliances with a warm metallic accent by way of a contemporary light fixture. This kitchen fully embraced the romantic finish by incorporating brass hardware to match the brass ceiling fixture, tying this culinary space together masterfully. While swapping out an existing fixture can be a fairly simple task, consider enlisting the help of a professional if you're starting the installation process from scratch.
Get the look: Vega Brushed Brass Flush Mount Light, $259
4. Line the lights above the kitchen island.
When shopping for fixtures to go above the kitchen island, consider opting for two or even three of them to provide ample illumination for the multipurpose work surface. Measure the counters as well as the height from the island to the ceiling to ensure you're purchasing ceiling lights that are the appropriate size.
Get the look: Shades of Light Reiss Pendant, $264
5. Stick with recessed lighting.
One of the major benefits of recessed lighting is that it can be spaced out to provide ample coverage for the entire kitchen. It's categorized as ambient lighting for its strong and direct illumination, and installation will usually require the help of a professional as each can light is recessed into the ceiling.
6. Opt for varying heights.
Pairing three pendant lights together doesn't mean they all have to hang at the same height. Add a little variety and adjust each fixture's cord length to create a dynamic and staggered cluster. To make it easier, you can even buy a fixture that is pre-grouped in a visually interesting arrangement. As always, measure the distance from the countertop to the bottom of the fixture to ensure that there are at least 30 inches between the two.
Get the look: Mercury RowYearby 3 - Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant, $286
7. Incorporate a hint of glam.
As most homes or apartments will come with a standard flush mount ceiling light, the opportunity to swap it out for a more design-forward piece is always a preferred option. Change out a basic glass shade with a flush mount lighting fixture that has a bit more flair like Jillian Guyette from Better Happier did in this light-filled kitchen.
Get the look: CB2 Bell White Flush Mount Light, $59.95
8. Keep it simple yet edgy.
The ceiling light in this high-contrast kitchen features an intricate pulley system, which is the perfect addition to any industrial-themed space. The elegant black finish beautifully complements the matching millwork and home decor throughout. Most pendant lights with a pulley system will require two ceiling brackets, so bear that in mind when planning your space.
Get the look: Maxim Lighting Nordic Pendant, $158
9. Consider an oversize fixture.
If you're really going for a statement-worthy kitchen lighting idea, an oversize pendant is definitely the way to go. This sleek and minimalist ceiling light is comprised of a lone hanging bulb surrounded by a woven black shade, giving accent lighting a whole new meaning. Natural elements like palm fronds and woven bamboo bring the outdoors in, providing earthy texture and warmth that we wholeheartedly appreciate.
Get the look: Crate and Barrel Cosmo Bronze Pendant Light, $349
10. Welcome clean lines.
If you're going for a minimalist finish, a streamlined pendant, much like the one spotted in this ultra modern kitchen, will certainly do the trick. Built with a suspension system that keeps the fixture floating above a kitchen island, the idea here is to emanate an ambient glow that's a bit softer than traditional task lighting.
Get the look: West Elm Linear Wood LED Pendant, $399
11. Opt for something with swag.
There is something so effortlessly stylish about a swag pendant light kit hanging from the ceiling and this modern kitchen showcases just that. Serving as a raw take on task lighting, the abscene of a shade keeps the brightness concentrated to one spot. Installing this sort of a fixture can be done in a rental if the cord is long enough to extend from an outlet, up to the ceiling, and drape over and down to the preferred spot.
Get the look: Color Cord Company Brass Plug-In Pendant Light, $40
12. Don't overlook the area above the sink.
You'll often find pendant lights installed over the island or kitchen nook, but the area over the sink deserves some love, too. While some homes will have recessed lighting, for those who are lacking any element of brightness, a pendant can be an asset, especially in a small kitchen. Install a fixture above the sink (taking care to not have it obstruct the cabinetry) to create a well-lit workspace.
Get the look: Wrought Studio Sasha 1-Light Single Cone Pendant, $138
13. Go for something over-the-top.
Who says a chandelier is for the living or dining room only? If you're looking for accent lighting with plenty of flair to spare, a chandelier is a good bet. Given the fact that it will feature multiple light bulbs, you can rest easy knowing that there will be plenty of illumination to go around. To maximize the fixture's impact, install it in an area with higher ceilings to benefit from all the light it has to give and use a dimmer switch to create the perfect ambiance.
Get the look: Beacon Lighting Askel 6-Light Pendant in Brass/Clear, $1,095
14. Take the minimalist route.
This Scandinavian-inspired kitchen by NC Interiors takes minimalism to the next level. We can't take our eyes off of the unique mini pendants with exposed bulbs hanging above the kitchen island. Complemented by the warm wood millwork and decorative accents throughout, their brass finish really shines. As the light from similar fixtures will be pretty concentrated, consider supplementing the pendants with recessed lighting for enough coverage.