Mixing kitchen lights, part 1

One issue I continue to run across with clients involves mixing lights in open kitchens, particularly ones with a eat-in areas of if they flow into other open rooms.  After all most of us don’t want our homes to look like lighting shops BUT there are so many fab lighting options it can hard to restrain. 


So I have been studying this topic, taking mental notes of various kitchens on pinterest, in real life, blogs and shelter magazines and i have developed a small theory or two or three.

{Notice the kitchen below with the deep industrial glass lights over the island and the simple shallow bowl light over the sink..its seamless in my opinion.love}

{ edited to say… original source is http://fortheloveofahouse.blogspot.com}

First off, there are no hard and fast rules. Its your house do what you want, if you want to buy everything from the same line at Lowe’s (matching chandelier, sconce, foyer light etc) that is FINE..go for it. Your biz.  But the trouble often lands on those of us who LOVE LIGHTING and want to mix too many styles. So here are some things to watch for…

Second, consider restraint. I am not one for restraint but I am trying to learn. Lighting is one area it can prove very important. I mean seriously, if you score lanterns like shown below you need no other lighting, let them shine!

 {image via decorpad}

Third, Embrace the pot light. Because bottom line is you need a lot of good light in your kitchen and those fab industrial lights you found out Round Top, no matter how much $$$ it cost to rewire them, still aren’t going to put off enough light.

{Notice that the fab Brooke Giannetti used both potlights AND a schoolhouse light in this amazing kitchen along with the industrial island lighting from Circa}


In this Sally Wheat kitchen there is nada over the island because there is strong over the table…pot lights save the day, again.

But here she DOES have large lights over a not so large island with pot lights to give more lighting. nothing for over the sink for those that get stuck on that (although in some cases it can be fine) It’s all about choices people.  You wouldn’t wear all of your jewelry on the same day (or maybe you would, refer to point number one;)


Notice what she has over the table in the nearby eating area…antique chandelier and then she switched it our for the arty light (keep in mind the industrial BROWN lights are over the island and nothing over the penisula.) And let me say, I have met Sally Wheat in person and she is so nice.

 (man i love those plates)


Finally, CONSIDER A MIX. My friend Linsey of LLH Designs combine two types of chandeliers in her beautiful Houston kitchen…

One is blingy and smaller in scale and one is larger in scale but more simple, also her kitchen and home is very calm and serene..not a loud colors going on and it is a large so it can handle these statement lights i think, even mixed. 

So there is no hard and fast rule..you dont always have to have something hang downy over the island OR the table..sometimes like LLH it works if your room dimensions allow it. Sometimes you must choose to forgoe in one area. Just give it a little thought and hopefully it will be clear.

 And at the end of the day its just a light!;;; BUT if you are lucky enough to have brick ceilings, DONT install pot lights, LIGHT CANDLES (or plug a lamp in the corner!)



Too be continued with more examples from my own clients’ design boards and more discussion..stay tuned!  I am playing around with mixing drum shades and chandeliers, industrial and chandys etc… Hope to share some of those boards soon. And let me know your experience with mixing lights and dealing with this issue in an open floor plan!

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. I Like It….http://bit.ly/imydZP

  2. That first kitchen in your post is GORGEOUS – with the transom windows and the metal topped island. I am addicted to light! Seriously…you don’t even want to know how many lamps are in this house. I have the pot lights in the kitchen and drum shaded pendants and lamps – yep plural. But it all works for me because they all have the same finish. And I know, I know, that is not supposed to matter in today’s design world, but in my obsessive mind it does.
    Thanks for the peek at all these beautiful kitchens.

  3. Honored that you featured my kitchen. I enjoy being in it every day! And I love that brick ceiling in that last kitchen! A crystal chandelier looks awesome against brick.

    Can’t wait to read part 2! You do these kinds of posts so well. I always love seeing the way you think…so fresh and fun yet tasteful and do-able. Love your style!


  4. Great post! Kitchen lighting has been on my mind for so long…other projects keep taking its place. We don’t have pot lights in the kitchen so having enough light is important.
    That first picture has me dreaming.

  5. Loving this subject today! We are revamping our kitchen right now. I spent part of yesterday looking at chandeliers on-line. I want a little sparkle above the kitchen table. 🙂

  6. I really love this post! Can’t wait to hear more. We are {hopefully!} soon going to be remodeling our kitchen and we’ve had this running discussion about lighting. So nice to see a designer’s thoughts on the subject. 🙂

  7. Just wanted to mention that the second kitchen image is Joan’s kitchen from fortheloveofahouse.blogspot.com. She has such a fantastic aesthetic!

  8. Thanks Holly….I dislike the lighting in my kitchen and you gave me something to think about. 🙂

  9. Love this post. We are just finishing up our kitchen remodel and lightening was one of the highlights. So many fabulous choices out there it was hard to narrow it down. I’m ready to redo all the lighting in our home just so I can bring in all my favorite picks.


  10. Holly, We adore the lanterns, such a wonderful look. We have a bit of a lighting obsession. Love this post!

  11. What a great post! Can’t wait to see part 2. Having this exact struggle in my kitchen right now! Love so many of your kitchen photos! Especially the last one with the brick ceiling.

  12. i’m so glad to read this. i literally have a meeting with a lighting person in 11 hours to pick all the lights for the new house … and my stack of inspiration/wants is way deep. i’m trying to keep in the vein of industrial/farmhouse/grandma’s house that was built in the 30s/40s, but i don’t want it to go all haywire and discombobulated. and then out of left-field there’s some streamlined, elegant piece … gah. so hard. i want them all. thanks for writing this so i can see this is an issue-at-large … ;o)

  13. Thank you for the lighting inspiration.

  14. Holly, thank you for this informative and inspiring post! I’ve seen a few of these kitchens before but never realized the amount of pot lighting used. Such a revelation!

  15. Elizabeth Scholtens says

    I LOVE your website. Wondering if you knew what kind of wood is used on the kitchen you featured by Brooke Giannetti? I would love to do my cream antiqued island with a wood top…but wondered if it would work. Thanks!

  16. hi holly! great post! i am so glad you did this one! i have been trying to decide for a few months now what i want to hang over my sink and whether or not to change the lighting over the table. and what will go together and get along! ha! love the pictures too! thanks for sharing!

  17. What a great post, Holly! Love this. You know we’re lighting obsessed over here, too. We vote mix. My new favorite, table lamps in kitchen in lieu of pendants. yes, probably not as practical, but so warm!

    Love MDD post, too. Could talk for hours about that one.


  18. This post is great timing for me. We are starting a renovation on a lake house and I am so torn on the kitchen nook chandelier selection. I have three faves and am going to need to pull the trigger soon. Decisions, decisions!

  19. Thank you so much for covering this subject. I have 5 lights in my kitchen. Right now they all match and are from a big box home store. I am dying to replace them with vintage but have trying to figure out how to do it. I have one chandelier space, two pendants and two ceiling all in the kitchen. I appreciate your thoughts and will keep searching for the perfect mix.

  20. Can someone please tell me where I can get the industrial glass lights that are in the second kitchen picture?? I love them!! I want to put some like that in my new kitchen but I can’t seem to find any like that anywhere!
    Nikki 🙂

  21. Great post! I am trying to pick lights for our kitchen and have to have something bright because all we have is a light in breakfast nook, one over island, and then LED under cabinets and small fixture over sink. The island light is the one I can’t find- like the pot lights but need one with more than one bulb and two arms at least in one fixture. So hard.

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