How to Light a Traditional Kitchen (Reviews/Pictures/Solutions)

Dagmar Hemp  |  July 23, 2014  |  3 Min. Read


Virtual Clearance Sale: Save up to 80% on closeouts, overstock, and floor samples

Virtual Clearance Details

Lighting in your kitchen is a crucial element to the success of a meal. In most other areas of your home, areas that are dimly lit can be brightened with one fixture or supplemented by lamps. Unfortunately, this is harder to do in the kitchen given space constraints (think about it – you don’t want lamps taking up valuable counter space), so the lighting needs to be properly designed the first time.

We tend to recommend using four elements of lighting for proper illumination in the kitchen: Task, Accent, Decorative, and Ambient.

  • Task lighting provides your work and prep areas with light. This can be achieved through recessed or track lighting and under-cabinet lighting.

  • Accent lighting helps to highlight objects through a spotlight-type of affect shined directly on an object.

  • Decorative lighting can be found in chandeliers, flush- and semi-flush mounts, pendants, and sconces: basically, these help to personalize the area more than give off light.

  • Ambient lighting does just that – provides ambience, as well as the main environmental lighting.

As previously discussed in my blog about Traditional Lighting Ideas for your Dining Room, the Traditional design aesthetic is best captured through antique-designed furniture, which nods to 18th and 19th Century English and French décor. Traditional design includes intricate details which can be found in symmetric curves and floral flourishes, as well as in molding and trim. The color palette in traditional spaces is usually muted, with prints including solids, stripes, plaid, and floral designs.

Today, we will discuss some lighting options for a traditional kitchen.

I love this kitchen. I think it is one of my favorite traditionally-designed spaces. The little details are what sings to me – the molding, the curves in the ceiling, as well as the columns – they exude regalness as well as elegance.

While this space has a great amount of task lighting (achieved through the recessed cans), I would recommend adding a pendant or two over the island and over the sink to give it a little more personality. Since the space is so light and airy, I think a clear-glassed pendant would be a great choice so the light can still pass through the space.


Hudson Valley Pendant 3101-OB-R08

Hudson Valley’s Vintage One Light Pendant ($172) with a clear, almost dichroic glass, would be a fun way to add a little sparkle and more direct light. I think the flair in the glass would accent the curves found in the door jam, as well as the arches in the backs of the chairs.


Hudson Valley Hampton Pendant 252-PN-C1

One of my favorite ideas for pendants in traditional spaces is the Hampton Three Light Pendant by Hudson Valley ($632). Putting two of these over the island would make the space pop and continue to bring the traditional theme upward. I chose these pendants because they are excellent reproduction glass lanterns from 19th century design.

Hudson Valley Haverhill Pendant 7311-PN

Another choice could be Hudson Valley’s Haverhill One Light pendant ($514). This pendant is simply stated, but has graceful touches within the vertical ribbing in the glass as well as the slender arms and knurled thumbscrews. The bell shape would also accent the columns nicely, as they have a similar angle to them.

This second kitchen has a lot of the same traditional elements as the first. The drawer pulls, the carved corners of the cabinets, and intricate details in the molding are what make this kitchen definitively traditional. My favorite element of this kitchen is the small molding designs, found in both the ceiling trim and the trim in the corners of the upper cabinets. The designs are almost reminiscent of lace and equally as elegant.


Hudson Valley Palisades Pendant 209-SN

I think this schoolhouse-style pendant by Hudson Valley ($214) could really shine over this island. It is such a classic shape and style, and would enhance the curves and details that are found in the molding in the space. Additionally, the angles in the glass would also complement the drawer pulls, as they contain a similar curve and what looks like to be a small, white or off-white bead.


Hudson Valley Windham Pendant 8008-PN

Another classic traditional pendant that could work well in this space is the Marion One Light Pendant by Hudson Valley ($398). I like this pendant for this space because it would bring a touch of the industrial to this very traditional space, as well as a little shine, which I think the room needs as well. I think the small details in this pendant would work well with the small details in the room’s design.


Corbett Argento Pendant 103-43

The Argento One Light Bar pendant by Corbett Lighting ($414) would be an excellent addition to this island. I love that the finish mimics mercury glass, and has a slight greenish tint to it, which would certainly be nice in this kitchen with some green tones already present. The shape is what works best with this pendant – it has a similar profile to the curved corners on the island.

For a classic, traditional look, I recommend using Framburg’s Black Forest one light pendant ($126). This pendant has all the elements of traditional design: from the marbled glass, which would tie in to the floor, and the curves that would accent the scallops in the bottom of the island; to the bronze finish, which would add to the collection of brown tones working together in the space.

Framburg Black Forest Pendant 9997MB

Since this kitchen has a lot of details to it, you could also go with something that is a little more simple in design to work in the space. One light that stands out is the Darien One Light pendant by Hudson Valley ($590). I think the clean lines in this pendant could work nicely with some of the clean lines found in the cabinet fronts. There is enough detail in the stem area to make this pendant work with traditional design.


Hudson Valley Darien Pendant 9611-DB

With as many brown tones as there are in this space, I think adding two more with this pendant would be a great choice! The Galena One Light mini pendant ($138.60) has a traditionally shaped amber-colored glass, in which the ripples evoke a similar feel as pre-20th century blown glass windows. The details in this pendant are fabulously traditional – from the braided detail just above the glass, to the almost pineapple-esque shape above that. I truly appreciate that the square chain links add to the historical feel of this piece.


Uttermost Galeana Pendant 21811

Key Takeaways

Decorative lighting is personal preference, like jewelry. Task lighting really provides the light. I always say to buy what you like or will enjoy looking at in your home. Believe me, there are tons of options.

Related Articles

Additional Resources

Get our free Kitchen Lighting Buying Guide packed with tips, trends and suggestions for planning your kitchen lighting design. Over 65,000 people have alread found answers in a Yale guide.

Read our Kitchen Lighting Buying Guide

Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that every appliance review has nothing but glowing comments about almost every product, yet you read customer reviews and they are almost universally bad.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll give you the best features, and the drawbacks as well, including reliability based on over 37,000 calls performed by our service team just last year. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

Please consider subscribing or adding to the conversation in the comments below. We appreciate you stopping by.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

Suggested Articles