A Quick and Easy Lighting Update
Q: We have a horrendous old 1970s style kitchen light fixture (several horrifying pics attached). At some point we will do a larger kitchen upgrade but that is years away. In the meantime, can you help me choose a generic updated light fixture? Not sure how much it will cost but my eyes literally bleed from the ugliness of this fixture.
- Nidhi C., South Orange, NJ
A: Your question made me laugh! When we moved into our first home, we had a similar "eye bleed" situation--one that I left up for waaaaay too long. When I finally took down the offending fixture, I could have kicked myself for waiting so long! It is such an quick and easy upgrade, especially since there is already the wiring there and it's just a matter of swapping out the actual light. Now before we get to specific lighting selections, a few general tips on sizing and positioning for lighting.
What Size Pendant Should I Get?
You're going to have to do a little math to determine this, but it's easy, promise!
To figure out the ideal diameter of the fixture, add together the length and width of the room in feet. The number you come up with is the correct diameter in inches for your light.
To figure out the best height of your fixture (as in dimensionally how "tall" it is, not how high you should hang it...we'll get to that next!) simply measure the ceiling height in the room in feet and multiply by 3. The product in inches is your ideal size for fixture height.
How High Should I Hang It?
For lighting above a table or countertop, I recommend hanging the fixture so that the bottom is a minimum of 30" from the surface. You'll want to make sure that it doesn't interfere with sight lines or conversation, but that it still feels related to the furniture and not floating way up high against the ceiling. Your electrician can likely hold it up for you to see what you personal preference is, and then shorten or lengthen the cord accordingly.
Alright, Let's Check Out Some Lights!
You don't specify a budget, so I'll go ahead and make a few suggestions at various price points. You certainly don't need to break the bank (although you could...) in order to get something a bit more up-to-date and stylish in your dining room.
IKEA and World Market are always a good first stop for great, inexpensive lighting. I really like all three of these: the black one is slightly retro and has interesting details like a bit of brass and a cool striped cord; the woven one would introduce some interest via texture and natural materials to the space, as well as cast some interesting patterns in the shadows; and the last one is a more modern take on the traditional lantern pendant, and looks like it would be a nice proportion for your space.
If you bump the price point up to the $100 and $200 range, you start to have more options in terms of where to look. Below I show some picks from a few of my go-to lighting sources. Depending on your dimensions (and budget) you might also consider pairing two identical single pendants together over the table to create a more linear look.
Finally, if you're looking from something really special (and are ready to open your wallet a bit more), here are two that I absolutely love. The Rejuvenation pendant is a large statement piece that is very beautiful, but still quite neutral and could work with virtually any decor. The Cobb Pendant is a long time favorite of mine--a classic--that I think would look lovely, and slightly less formal than the Rejuvenation option.
Let us know where you end up! We'd love to see a picture of your new (non-eye-bleed-inducing) lighting situation ;)
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