These Traditional Kitchen Lighting Ideas Look Anything but Old-School

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Whether you're an avid cook or not, it's safe to say that the kitchen is one of the most utilized spots in a home. Naturally, we find ourselves constantly scheming up ways to update it without having to spend a fortune on appliances or making significant changes, like replacing cabinets or worn-out tiles. (Renters know the perils and limitations of that all too well.) But somewhere between all the semi-permanent solutions, there's a simple swap that can have a similarly show-stopping effect: New lighting.

Swap your existing lighting with a fresh pendant (or chandelier, if you're feeling fancy) and watch the room instantly transform. A well-lit kitchen is always of the essence, especially when you're entertaining. But choosing just any old fixture won't do — you need one that inspires a timeless sense of elegance, such as traditional style. Brushed brass finishes and linen shades are just a few of the telltale markers of the aesthetic, which not only stand out, but also allow themselves to seamlessly translate into just about any decorative scheme.

Not quite sure where to start your search? Allow the inspired spaces ahead to pave the way.

1. Channel your surroundings.

An antique brass fixture paired with a frosted or ribbed glass shade is a hallmark of traditional kitchen lighting. Major points to Amber Lewis who chose the pieces to complement the overall vibe of the California-cool cook space. The brass details tie in the finish of the faucets and cabinet pulls.

Get the look: Pottery Barn Custom Bronze Pendant Hardwire & Ribbed Glass Shade, $119 - $179

2. Elevate a kitchen nook.

The traditional vibe of this banquette-style kitchen nook spotted on Schoolhouse calls for an equally classic light fixture to complete the scene. The patinated-brass pendant above complements the nailhead trim of the seating, while securing itself as the undeniable focal point of the cozy corner.

Get the look: Schoolhouse Union Pendant 6", $269

3. Walk the line.

Designer Jaclyn Peters' knack for seamlessly merging traditional style with modern aesthetics translates to just about every nook and cranny of a home. In this transitional kitchen, the lighting selection features an updated take on the classic bowl pendant as well as a pair of old-school sconces. Slivers of brass pay an ode to a retro era, while the cool shade of green offers a refreshing touch.

Get the look: Bellevue Single Light 17" Wide Cone Pendant, $189.99

4. Shape up.

Ornate shapes with elegant twists, combined with a metallic detail or two, are the signature characteristics of traditional style. In the kitchen of thisVictorian home redesign by Christine Zeiler Interiors, a two-light pendant boasts a lustrous finish, beautifully contrasting with the rich wood built-ins as well as the forest green island directly below.

Get the look: Chapman & Myers Sloane Double Shop Pendant, $2,059

5. Make it bucolic.

DeVOL never fails to inspire us with their iconic designs and this moody kitchen is no exception. While the room's general aesthetic may err somewhere between vintage and modern, the lone light fixture — with its ceramic shade and aged bronze fixture, no less — takes on traditional style with a country-cool, rustic twist.

Get the look: DeVOL Crackle Pendant Light, $325 - $360

6. Opt for lanterns.

Ornate lanterns and caged pendants are staples of traditional style and if you're looking for a piece with a slight contemporary twist, this fixture is the way to go. The clear glass shade coupled with a candelabra inside lends a classic feel, while the streamlined, black steel frame offers a modern note.

Get the look: McGee and Co.'s Holborn Lantern, $849

7. Align on all fronts.

Although the majority of the elements in this stunning kitchen spotted on Rejuvenation err on the modern side, the ever-so-elegant drum pendants invite a dose of traditional style. Its linen shade and symmetrically-balanced shape are a prime source of ambient lighting, contributing a splash of warmth to the sleek lines of the space.

Get the look: Rejuvenation Conical Drum Pendants, $529

8. Task it up.

Sconces may have a slightly modern connotation, but in this swoon-worthy kitchen designed by Katie Hackworth, it's anything but. Fusing the best of both worlds — an aged bronze fixture that dials it back and a see-through cone shade for a modern note — the added source of task lighting is a lesson in seamlessly integrating the two.

Get the look: Pottery Barn Custom Clear Glass Hood and Bronze Finish Sconce, $150

9. Embrace different shapes.

Cage pendant lights are a time-honored style and a mainstay of traditional kitchen lighting. In House of Nomad's Myers Park build, we came upon a geometric version of the classic that doubles as a transitional source of decor between the old and the new.

Get the look: Savoy House Townsend Chandelier, from $318 - $618

10. Triple up on the glam.

File this under a truly timeless take on traditional kitchen lighting. Serena and Lily's triple bulb pendant is equal parts elegant and minimalist with its tailored brass form and ethereal shade, designating itself as the perfect addition to an exclusively contemporary scheme.

Get the look: Serena & Lily Claremont Triple Bulb Pendant, $698


Anna is a New York-based writer and editor with a penchant for travel, design, and interiors.

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