Pendant lights have been popular for quite some time—largely since the choice for a kitchen island prevails decade after decade. In the island's post-war beginnings, there was rarely designated task lighting for the kitchen; rather, overhead lighting sufficed for all spaces—with a separate fixture over the eating area.
Over time, though, kitchen design has gained increased attention, begetting more region-specific lighting options (overhead, peninsula, island, dine-in areas, under cabinet, toe kick, and so on), placing greater emphasis on the need for both task and ambient lights.
Pendants and suspended lighting fixtures deserve a plan within the plan
The more pendants have become standard, the bigger and bolder they've gotten. More thought goes into the lighting design—providing consideration for pendant number, placement, length, etc., within the general kitchen lighting plan.
There are several different questions you'll work through with your designer as you select the right pendants for your kitchen space. Take note that interior design functions under an unstated "Rule of Three" concept.
As orderly as pairs are, research shows most humans find odd numbers of things more visually appealing. While even numbers yield symmetry, odd numbers create more interesting contrasts. Thus, most design themes are repeated in threes—though there are exceptions—so you'll notice the "Rule of Three" show up often.
How many pendants make sense?
Based on the unspoken rule: three, of course...!
...but not always. The "Rule of Three" is directly linked to scale.
While three pendants might work perfectly over a standard or over-sized island or bar, two larger pendants may look better over a smaller island. In the latter case, we'd make sure those two pendants are suspended on one plane, and suspend any other pendants (such as over a sink, the range hood or small bar) on a separate plane.
Are the various lighting planes balanced?
That brings us to the question of planes. Recessed cans are all consistently installed the same number of recessed inches into the ceiling (same plane). Ceiling-mounted fixtures are installed right against the kitchen ceiling (same plane)—and this is also true for under cabinet lighting, toe kick lights, etc.
Pendants should also be suspended on the same plane to provide balance, so if you break the "rule of three," odds are your designer will suggest separate planes for the different pendant locations to ‘please the eye' and the brain's need for order.
Do we want them to provide color, texture or design flair?
Pendants are a way to play with color, texture and design flair—even for the most traditional or design-neutral homeowner.
While a basic, standard pendant option is worth choosing as a fallback plan, think outside the box and see if you're drawn to pendants with a little more flair. Pops of color are one way to go about it, as are uniquely shaped pendants or those made from a combination of materials.
Some fun and trending pendant styles to think about include:
Globes and half-globes
This is a great way to add curved or round lines to a kitchen design that's predominantly linear and more streamlined. There is also a very old-world or historic look to globes, making them an easy fit for farmhouse or rustic kitchen designs.
If you're not a fan of the way pendants interrupt the visual space, or you're a minimalist, clear glass is a good option. Keep in mind, however, that the light won't be diffused so choose your bulbs carefully.
Shiny or dull metals
Modern and post-modern kitchens, or kitchens with white/black or integrated appliances, might appreciate adding another texture/material to the mix using shiny or dull-metal finished pendants. These can also be a fun way to jump aboard the mixing metals trend.
Matte black everything is trending right now, so why not celebrate it with your pendants? Or, if you like the idea but don't want to use it on permanent selections—like cabinets—matte black pendants can be swapped for a different look later on.
Bell jars or industrial pendants
Bell jar pendants are inspired by the glass jars that display curiosities in laboratories, while industrial-themed lights hail from manufacturing plants and agricultural settings. Therefore, these fixtures have a timeless quality and work with any design—traditional, rustic, or contemporary.
Art deco lights
The mid-century modern trend has a competitor—art deco. Your pendants can celebrate the art deco movement via geometric shapes or patterns and/or glamorous finishes.
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