Functional kitchens require a fair amount of lighting. Light directed toward food prep, cooking, eating, and cleaning areas provide for a safer environment. Task lighting can be achieved in a variety of ways, but in some instances, a decorative light fixture can do the trick. Here are the 4 types of decorative fixtures you may want to consider adding to your kitchen's lighting scheme.
A word about using decorative fixtures for task lighting:
The purpose of a task light is to make the activity under it safer and easier. There are all types of lights out there, but not all lights are suitable for the function of task lighting. All light fixtures provide a specific level of light (measured in a unit called lumens), and higher levels of lumens are needed for the task areas of your kitchen. For example, food prep areas will require more light than eating areas. Use lighting controls and layered lighting options to illuminate your kitchen properly.
Pendant lighting (also sometimes called "drop lights") comes in three basic varieties: uplights, downlights, and ambient. For task lighting, downlights, which direct the light down to the surface below, are preferred, but depending on the other lights used in your overall scheme, any variety of pendant lighting may be suitable.
The term pendant is used for the whole range of fixtures that hang from the ceiling, either by a cord, chain, or rod. To distinguish pendants from other types of hanging lights, the term is usually used for fixtures that hang from a single point with a single bulb.
Style options for pendants are nearly endless, such that there's a style of pendant out there for just about every style of kitchen. On occasion, the light is chosen to blend seamlessly with the kitchen and not particularly stand out. Often, however, pendants act as the jewels of the kitchen and inject some additional style and personality.
Classic and traditional, chandeliers can provide ambient light over a work surface. The trick in a kitchen application is to find chandeliers that do not overwhelm the space and are well-matched to the room's specific style. Chandeliers can also be unexpected in the kitchen, which makes them well-suited as style statements. A popular chandelier option for kitchens is a cage-style fixture that surrounds the exposed bulbs in an open structure of metal or wood.
Most chandeliers are not specifically downlights, so if you're thinking of using one (or more) in your kitchen in a task zone, be prepared to pair it with recessed lighting that can add more illumination, or use it only over areas that need specific but not overwhelming light, such as over an eating counter or table.
Sconce or Wall-Mounted Fixtures
Some areas of the kitchen may have useable wall space for decorative task lighting. We see this most often over a sink, but this could also occur or over an integrated desk or sidebar. Wall-mounted, downlight fixtures for the kitchen are similar to pendants (one bulb mounted from a single point), but instead of hanging from the ceiling, they use rigid arms to hang off the wall.
Some decorative fixtures fall into a category of their own but are still suitable for various task lighting applications. Industrial fixtures, artisan-made or custom light installations, or fixtures that simply defy categorization all fall into this bucket. Here, as with chandeliers, the key is to find a fixture that makes the right statement and is in tune with the surrounding kitchen.
Before selecting a unique fixture as a task light, be sure to check the lumens to see if it will be sufficient for the task you'd like to use it over. You can also consider pairing fixtures if two might work better than one, and both would still fit in your kitchen. Also, be aware that some unique or custom light fixtures may require custom electrical installation, so be sure to check the requirements before making your selection.