For a long time, petite pendant lights were all the rage in kitchen design. Lots of small, cafe style pendants provided plenty of light and a restaurant-style ambiance. But trends are starting to shift toward bigger, bolder lighting fixtures. The area over a big kitchen island is particularly ideal for a hefty statement light, and industrial and farmhouse style fixtures fit the bill to a T. These fixtures work equally well in a modern or traditional kitchen, and have enough personality that even a really big light won’t seem bland or oversized.
In recent years there’s been a bit of a backlash against what seemed like the unstoppable trend toward a more modern kitchen. Homeowners prize the convenience of a more contemporary design, but have begun to shy away from the ultra-chic, sometimes sterile look of a very modern kitchen. To bridge the gap, many designers are turning to a different kind of antiques: not frilly hand carved furniture or crystal chandeliers, but more practical old fashioned designs, like oversized warehouse and farmhouse style lights that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. These are big, bold, and old, with weathered metal finishes, antique bulbs, and often whimsical designs that make them function beautifully as statement pieces.
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Merging Old And New
What these old fashioned lighting fixtures do especially well is help bridge the gap between traditional and modern. Many homeowners these days are opting for a middle-route transitional kitchen, and old warehouse style lights have both that rustic, antique flair and enough modern edginess that they don’t look overly ornate or outdated. Industrial style furniture – including kitchen lights – offers a more down-to-earth antique look and feel that’s more charming than elaborate, and certainly more practical.
Stylish And Usable
In fact, factory style lights are especially great for a kitchen island because they not only provide the big, bold style that’s so popular right now, but they also make excellent task lighting. Many industrial style fixtures are very mobile, fixed on a pulley system or with retractable or extending arms that allow you to move the lights with just a touch, switching seamlessly between close up task lighting and the more conventional all-over ambient lighting. The best lights can be moved up and down and side to side, but when they aren’t being moved just look like a lovely, intricate, old fashioned fixture.
There are two main ways that big industrial style lights work as a statement piece in a large kitchen. The first is simply by virtue of their size: even a very simple, farmhouse style barn lights with big, domed metal shades stand out almost entirely by virtue of their size. They’re hefty and bold, showcasing an antique metal finish and a very simple, classic design that evokes a homey, country farmhouse feel without a lot of ornamentation. But more industrial, warehouse style lights tend to be a little more complicated in their design, with pulleys, scissor arms, counterweights, and accordion style frames. These features stem from their original use in turn of the century factories, where ample light was crucial, but bright overhead florescent lights were still decades away, and give the lights a whimsical, almost steampunk appearance that makes for a great centerpiece and conversation starter.
Really, though, the most important part of this trend is to find a lighting fixture that has a little weight to it. Even if you don’t want an oddball industrial antique, a humble yet hefty lighting fixture can still make a great focal point for your kitchen. Rather than lots of moving parts, you want to look for simple, country style antiques, like the milk-can style pendants above. Hefty wrought iron or copper pieces rather than stainless steel can give your light a more assertive presence, while even a lightly distressed finish can add a nice sense of age. Many industrial style lights have very complex designs, but it’s important to note that this isn’t strictly necessary: broad, assertive strokes can be just as attention grabbing.
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So if you’re looking for a way to update your kitchen island area, the best way to do it might be to look backwards: to the heftier, more assertive lighting fixtures of yesteryear. What do you think of these unique industrial and farmhouse style pendants? Let me know in the comments below!