Blog Archives

{Kitchen Update} Help! Pendant Lights or Can Lights?

Welcome to the Our Fifth House readers who are stopping by today! I would love to hear if you have any design suggestions!

Guys. I have to make lighting decisions for our kitchen and I’m at a standstill. This feels like one of those big grown up decisions (you know, at the same level as signing a mortgage or making school decisions for your kids #not) and I don’t want to get it wrong. I was finally able to get a few pictures of the kitchen in the daylight, so here is  a before and after with the painting progress that’s been made.





There’s definitely room for improvement in my indoor photography skills, but we love the new bright crisp feeling the new paint provides. And yes, the hearts still need to go.


You might recall that I wanted to whitewash the island a kerry green or turquoise. Now, I’m thinking that will be the last decision. I’m not sure what to do with that island.

Ok, so back to the lighting. As I’ve complained about numerous times, there is NO overhead lighting in the kitchen. The only lights right now are an awful fluorescent strip over the sink, the hood vent lights over the stove and a fixture over the kitchen table. It’s unclear to me how people lived here for 30 years without overhead lighting. I took a stab at drawing where a few can lights might ago, a la Joanna Gaines, but you’ll need to use your imagination for my next round of ideas.


After consulting with TimTheFarmer, my electrician FIL, and the internets, here’s what the plan is currently. We’ll install recessed lights throughout the kitchen where we don’t have pendant lights. We’ll replace the circular kitchen table light fixture with 2 -3 pendant lights. We’ll install lighting over the kitchen island. But, there are two question marks:

1. Recessed lighting: we go back and forth about installing symmetrical rows of lights, which makes the minor case of OCD that I have feel better OR installing task lighting in the specific areas that aren’t covered by the table and island lighting. I think I’m leaning towards task lighting. But then…

2. Island lighting: I really like the idea of pendant lights over the island, but I worry about closing in the space in a kitchen/dining room that feels quite open now. I’ve been waffling on this and then my FIL informed me that you can fairly easily convert recessed light sockets to pendant fixtures. Sold! I love the idea of installing can lights and trying out the pendants. If they don’t work, we can just stick to the can lights and if they do, we’re all set.

Buuuuttt…this then messes with the rows of recessed lighting. Should the two island can lights line up with other lights or do they just do their own thang? Ughh. Grown-up decisions. 


The other thing that effects the lighting plan, is the removal of the wall between the kitchen and living room. Originally I’d planned to pull the whole thing down, but after living in the space for a few months AND being gifted this awesome long farm table, we’ve decided to keep at least some of the wall. I think the current plan is to pull the wall out to the light switch to bring in some light from the living room and open the space up a bit more, but still keep a dining nook. I expect the removal of that part of the wall will inform our can light placement and pendant/no pendant island lighting plans. 

So, the next step is to get that wall pulled down and then we’ll finalize the light plans. In the meantime, I’ve been perusing Houzz and Pinterest and Lighting Direct for ideas for fixtures. I seem to be drawn to the farmhouse-industrial lights. I’m leaning towards something in this family for the kitchen table.


And here are some islands with pendant lights that I love.

IslandInspiration  IslandInspiratio4 IslandInspiratio3  
IslandInspiratio2Source | Source | Source | Source

How gorgeous is this kitchen, by the way??

And, I particularly like how in that last photo, you barely notice the pendants.


As I was digging through Houzz, I discovered the above photo with these awesome corrugated tin pendant lights. Luckily the image lists the source materials and … wait for it …. the lights are from a company called Hudson Valley Lighting!! Coincidence?? I think not. I started digging though their site and found lots of great options. I’m a bit nervous to find out the price, but for now, I’ll use this as inspiration:


I’m liking the first three options for the island and kicking around the others for the table.

Do you have tips for can light placement? Or have any pendant light preferences? I’d love your input!