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Contemporary Kitchen Lighting Design

Marsha Cook  |  March 03, 2016  |  3 Min. Read

Lighting  |  Kitchen Lighting  |  Contemporary

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Many people confuse or interchange contemporary with modern. Contemporary design is heavily influenced by Modern design, but they are not the same.

Contemporary design is a work-in-progress, a response to the ideas and spirit of the time, a reflection of the decor and architectural developments that preceded it, a look that you know when you see it. Following is a brief explanation of the two.  

Modern Style

Modern design is a specific historical design period with a guiding philosophy and identifiable characteristics. Modern design refers to a period of time or a design style that was created in the 1920′s-1950′s. It doesn’t change, it is a defined style, and will remain such forever.

Contemporary Style

Contemporary design is ever changing. It is a design of the moment. Contemporary design is fluid and current. If you can separate the two, you understand enough about Modern and Contemporary design to combine them successfully.

It refers to what is popular or used right now. Contemporary design can be very eclectic for that reason, because it is ever changing and borrows pieces and styles from all different eras.

It doesn’t have to be something that is “designed” right now. For example, furniture and art from the modern era are often used, and traditional moldings and mill work are incorporated in many cases.

Today's Contemporary Design

Right now, a contemporary home might incorporate large windows, unique or odd shapes, open plan and harmony with the surrounding landscape. The finishes would use a lot of natural elements and the finishing details and furniture would be defined by clean lines with a casual atmosphere, open spaces, neutral colors, and elements and materials inspired by nature.

Comfort and sustainability are key values that are important in a contemporary home today. 

Contemporary Kitchen Lighting Design

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under cabinet lighting is essential to kitchen design and functionality, plus it adds another layer of lighting that increases the sophistication and drama to one of the most used rooms in the house. While there are as many kitchen styles as there are kitchens in the world, under cabinet illumination works with all designs.

Legrand's custom wall plates eliminate the need to cut out any receptacles or put ugly switches in the well thought out and newly designed backsplash. The adorne undercabinet lighting system seamlessly blends lighting, power and music to free you of kitchen clutter.


Contemporary lighting design uses pendant lights as a work of art or focal point. Apart from offering ample illumination, they seem to bring along with them beautiful balance and style.

There is an amazing array of pendant lights to offer, and the lighting above your kitchen island need not look dull and boring anymore. Let’s look at some of my favorite contemporary pendants.

Best Contemporary Pendants

Hubbardton Forge "Corona" Pendant - $308

Hubbardton Forge "Corona" Pendant

Hudson Valley "Darien" Pendant - $550

Hudson Valley "Darien" Pendant

Metropolitan "Chardbourne" Pendant - $650

Metropolitan "Chardbourne" Pendant

Hudson Valley "Hampton" Pendant - $696

Hudson Valley "Hampton" Pendant

Feiss "Audrie" Pendant - $998

Feiss "Audrie" Pendant Visual Comfort "Chart House" Pendant  - $1,234 

Visual Comfort "Chart House" Pendant


The Museum of Modern Art defines contemporary design as being an adjective, not a style, as well-made, beautiful, efficient, innovative and reflective of its time. 

Remember, that contemporary style is about comfort and sustainability, so whatever that means to you, would be the right lighting fixtures for your home. 

Additional Resources

Want to pick the right lighting for your Kitchen? Get The Yale Kitchen Lighting Buying Guide with the 4 elements to light a room, how to layer lighting and plenty of how to pictures. Well over 150,000 people have read and trusted a Yale Guide.

Read our Kitchen Lighting Buying Guide

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A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Marsha Cook

Marsha Cook is a Lighting Consultant at Yale Appliance + Lighting in Boston. Marsha is ALA certified and has over 25 years of experience in the Lighting industry. Marsha is passionate about all aspects of lighting design. In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

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