Modern kitchens are sleek and sophisticated, and often have a professional, restaurant style air. But unfortunately that means that all too often modern kitchen lighting is extremely industrial and utilitarian. Rather than elegant or decorative, most modern kitchen lights are stark, made of sharp geometric shapes and simple, bold lines. Traditional pendants and chandeliers look out of place with a minimalist style, but that doesn’t mean decorative lighting is out of the question: you just have to find fixtures that blend the best of both worlds.
Crystals are the most important decorative element of crystal chandeliers of every shape and size, but the base – the traditional scooped arms tipped with candle flame bulbs – is what gives them their antique, old world style. In fact, crystals can very easily be transported into a modern lighting fixture for a totally different effect. This Cartier island light is made of simple, stark modern lines, but the fact that it’s studded with real crystals gives it a posh, sophisticated air.
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Crystals also pair incredibly well with one of the most modern materials of all: chrome. The refractive properties of the crystal, combined with the mirror-like finish of chrome interplay beautifully with the light and with each other. Together, they have all the elegance of a traditional chandelier, but without any of the trappings of an antique. This light in particular makes an absolutely stunning light to hang above a kitchen table, and can act as a formal centerpiece for the whole kitchen.
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If using real crystal feels a little too glitzy for your kitchen lighting, consider one of my personal favorite alternatives: a glass chandelier. These come in a lot of different shapes and forms, but are generally composed of loops, teardrops, or globes of glass designed to evoke (but not replicate) the crystals found on traditional chandeliers. I particularly like this option because it borrows the elegance of more traditional designs while maintaining its own particular modern flair.
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For kitchen lighting that’s a little less ornate, but not overly simple, look for pendant lights with a geometric design, but one done in a more unusual shape. Rather than your typical cylinder or rectangle, opt for more complex prisms, like this gorgeous, gem-like Amethyst light. Made of hefty metal pieces and straight, solid lines, this design is simple enough to work well with a minimalist modern decor, but complex enough to be visually interesting, too.
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Many of these options have a very polished, sophisticated appeal to them. But if your kitchen has a slightly more urban edge – especially if you’re aiming for a brick-and-exposed-wood loft style – you might want to look for a more old fashioned type of kitchen lighting. Now, I didn’t say traditional, because I certainly don’t mean chandeliers or any kind of light you would ordinarily think of as “antique.” But antique pulley lights and other factory style lights are hugely popular in modern design right now, with elegant moving parts and unique designs that feel fresh and new in a simple urban loft.
Or, finally, if you really do like the look of a restaurant style kitchen, consider playing up on the style. A kitchen island turned bartop can give your kitchen the look and feel of an upscale bistro, which is great for entertaining. Look to some of your favorite gastropubs for inspiration here. Just about anything can work from very simple pendants covered in colored or textured glass shades to petite track lighting in a space with high ceilings. My favorite restaurant is filled with pendant lights designed and arranged to look like floating paper lanterns, but really the sky is the limit on how to use kitchen lighting to turn your space into a stylish home bar.
What type of modern kitchen lighting appeals most to you?