Is this light appropriate for my kitchen?

weedyacresAugust 13, 2013

1920 simple worker's cottage remodel on a strict budget. Kitchen is 9'x13' galley with 8.5' ceilings. Love this light, but want to check with the Old House Nazis on period appropriateness. :-)

Also, is 1 ceiling light enough in this kitchen or do I need 2?

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The number of lights depends on the layout. You don't want to be working in your shadow ... I'd recommend two.

Interesting style. Not exactly period, but it blends nicely.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 1:25PM
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Well...are you trying to keep it looking period? Because if so, then no. It's your house though, and it's just a light fixture. If you're replacing the original and you have the space, put it away in storage (an attic, basement, even garage) in case someone wants to put it back later. If, like both of our houses, someone's remuddled it and whatever is there is also not as you wish to it when you remove it!

For light, I can't tell if the light shines through the bottom or no. We have a simple schoolhouse style and in our small 9x9 ish kitchen, there's one in the middle and one over the sink (Medium in the middle and small above the sink). They are on the same switch so both are on if the lights are on-and it's enough light imo. And our kitchen is all wood paneling so it definately doesn't reflect the light!

The link below is the lights we have, at least that series...

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen light

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Sorry, but I just don't like the light for a kitchen. I do like the one eclectic cottage picked out, though I wonder if you can get enough wattage in it. We have one large light in the middle, one small one at the sink and the oven hood has 40Ws. In my white and yellow 9x11kitchen, this is often too much. So we have the large overhead on a dimmer.

You have a high ceiling, how about a very, very, simple black iron chandelier? I don't know if that is any more period correct.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 4:40PM
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Nein, the light is not appropriate for your kitchen, or any kitchen. I think that light is hässlich.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 8:00PM
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Weedy, sorry, I don't like the fixture either...but I also don't like eclectic's schoolhouse suggestion--it looks nice, but a milk-glass shade will absorb a fair amount of the light cast by the fixture, and although you could put a fluorescent bulb as an energy saving feature in it...the color of the cast light would then look terrible.

I don't think you need two lights in the center is period style, and another over the sink either as overhead or sconce is enough. My kitchen is 11x10, and my main light is central, with a sconce over the sink. Plenty for my kitchen which has stained cabinets around the sink, and stained wainscotting on the walls.

It's the shade which is the important feature of the light fixture...most from the 20s would have an open bottom for a ceiling fixture. Attached is a link for some examples.

Here is a link that might be useful: G.E. '20s Lighting Catalogue

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:11AM
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Lol, columbusguy, I guess it depends on the kitchen? We have that light (actually, the smaller, middle one) as the main light in our kitchen with just a standard incandecent bulb, as well as the smallest size one over the sink. I don't find it to be too dark at all. Our entire kitchen is wood (cabinets, walls) so we don't get much reflection off of either to "amp up" the light output. The ceiling is white though, maybe that helps.

This is my kitchen, the walls are the same stain as the cabinets

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Hoo boy, the kitchen and lighting forum folks are saying one light isn't sufficient. Their lumens/sf calculation says I need 5 60-watt bulbs worth.

I'm ok with a different light fixture, though I'm wincing at sassafras's characterization of it as hasslich (had to google that). :-)

columbusguy: your linked catalog just has those milk glass/schoolhouse fixtures as suggestions for the kitchen. I'd be okay with those, but I'm not convinced they're sufficient lumens with just one. How many bulbs are in your single fixture?

I found this needs-work light on ebay. Says it needs a glass shade below the five bulbs, 15" tall if hung at the ceiling. Is it/could it be made "appropriate"?

eclectic: the current light is an ugly brass/white light/ceiling fan combo. Not worth keeping.

My sink isn't going to be under a window, it'll be to to one side, so any sink light would be under the cabinet. Not sure the style options on that...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Here's another interesting ebay possibility. Not sure if it's intended to have shades over the bulbs. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Weedy, my central light has a single bulb--has a 60 or 75 watt bulb in it--I'd have to check. The shade is a beehive milk glass shape with tannish garland design embossed, it's from around 1910 to fit my house, and almost perfectly matches my parlor's original fixture. My sconce over the sink has a single 60 watt bub and a metal shade which casts the light downward. My only other light besides the double-hung full size window is a half-light in the back door, and what comes in through the pantry's door from it's window...despite this, my kitchen isn't dark. Due to layout restrictions, my sink is to the right of my only window with a cabinet to it's upper right, open shelves above and a set of four drawers mounted upper left. My ceiling is white, and upper walls are currently white, thinking of changing them to a buttery yellow.

Most kitchens in the early 1900s had single bulb fixtures--some very basic with just the socket. :) I would not get anything which is a chandelier type for a kitchen--had that very early on and I gave it away. Not even close to period although my 9 foot ceilings could accomodate it.

Your second ebay fixture would work...doesn't look like it had shades at all, which would mean you could do repro bulbs and have it look really cool!

Kitchen forum--bah! Those people live in magazine style homes which are flooded out with light and have a cold atmosphere to me. And I'm sure everything is stainless steel that they can possibly manage, covered with granite. Twenty years from now, they'll be nattering on about some other new fad. They just don't get that a kitchen can be fitting to the house style without being a carbon copy of some glitzy magazine...after all, our grandmothers had an 'island'--it was called a humble table back then, but it produced many excellent meals without being the size of an aircraft carrier.

This post was edited by columbusguy1 on Mon, Aug 19, 13 at 20:02

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:18PM
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Today opinions on what is needed in a kitchen are drastically different from what was needed 100 years ago and is also not always reality. On the kitchen forum, I take opinions with a grain of salt (whatever that means). Reality is that you need to be able to see well when working in the kitchen. Since my old kitchen was about the size of yours and I did all my work either at the sink area (with an overhead light) or at the peninsula (with a 3-bulb fixture), I had plenty of light. Get the amount of light that you are comfortable with and that brightens up your work areas, so your back is not always to the light.

As far as the ebay fixtures, the second one would be appropriate for the age of your house and would use those round bulbs that are in the catalog. However, it probably wouldn't have been in the kitchen, more likely in the dining room. But choose what you like. I would love it in a kitchen. Kitchens today are much more formal than when our houses were built.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:26PM
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OK, I've been hunting around a bit more, and it seems that "pan lights" are an option. Here's an ebay version that's not over ornately victorian. Bulbs aren't included.

And btw, I love my current large kitchen with stainless steel and granite and 9 can lights. :-) But I only get to keep it until November, and in the meantime I'll try something new in this tiny cottage.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Actually in a simple, sorta period kitchen you could get away with something like this, which has two bulbs, not inappropriate because it's functional, design-wise, and it's on special for $15.90 each if you buy three, which is probably what you need.

The original, if it had covered bulbs at all, may have been a variant of the center post or three chain shade of similar proportions. You can get them, too, but they get bugs in them easily.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bellacor

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:43PM
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What other types of materials are you working with here? You know, cabinet types, counter tops, appliances, flooring...

While I certainly love period decor (although I'm kinda more of a 50's style girl myself, so good thing I have a 50's era house), if most of the rest of the room isn't 20's, I don't know if it matters if the fixture is.

If you house is truly just a worker's cottage, it wouldn't have fancy fixtures, they would be the $10 Home depot specials of the day. While they would likely be of a higher quality than the cheap stuff is now, they wouldn't be very intricate. Or, if it's anything like our cottage (which originally built as a seasonal vacation cottage), it might even have been built using cast offs reclaimed from other houses (yes, even back then, people reclaimed and repurposed, although it was pretty much about $$ rather than chic) so it might have even had a mix of eras going on.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Floors will be original (refinished) hardwood, cabinets will be painted white shaker style, white appliances, laminate countertops in a gray stone-looking finish. I'm toying with blue glass knobs for the cabinets...

So not really vintage style with sink or faucet or appliances.

Thanks for the inexpensive suggestion, pal! And the reminder about bugs. :-)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Sounds like the perfect kitchen for a simple cottage!

We have our "old house" in addition to the cottage (when we bought the cottage we kept our other house rather than sell, and rented it). When we decided to rent it, we also decided to renovate it (we never got to the bigger stuff that you just can't live through while, well, living there). We ended up rushing the reno because friends lost their lease (landlord wanted to sell but decided not to renew the lease for an easier sale on a single family) so we didn't get all the little details we wanted to do, done. My inspiration for the kitchen there was this

which seems pretty close to what you're doing, except the flooring and counter tops. That house is also a 1920's workers home, although I never called it a cottage. It's "vernacular"...just the local style of the time, built cheaply by a single gentleman who worked for the railroad (per the old city directory). We were going with black and white (black counters, white cabinets, black appliances) for a more timeless look, and just go with the schoolhouse style fixtues because I liked them so much at the cottage.

I think for what you're doing, simple fixtures without a "time stamp" (trendy NOW, but "omg what was I thinking" in 5 years, like big hair or paisley wallpaper) would work fine. It sounds like you'll have a nice simple kitchen with a design that doesn't say "this was done in 2013" when someone looks at it, so a fixture that matches that would work perfectly.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Re the schoolhouse suggestion: if you're really serious about time period it isn't appropriate -- those didn't become popular until the late 20s so would not be original equipment in a 1920 house. And, a chandelier, even a simple iron one, is highly unlikely to be period-correct in a kitchen, especially in a worker's cottage.

One period light would be a simple melon-type.

But, you don't live in a museum, so I would forget about the "appropriateness" issue. Pick what you like and and seems to look right in the room. Personally, I kinda like the light you picked, and I think a schoohouse or a simple chandelier could be good options also.

Whether one ceiling light is ok depends on how bright the ceiling, walls, and cabinets are (that is, how much they reflect light around), and on whether there is any task lighting to supplement it. Will there be significant shadows, or not?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:49AM
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Heres my thinking, FWIW. Anything you do - including a slavish reproduction of what you THINK is 1920s style is going to be your 2013 interpretation. The schoolhouse light is a ubiquitous vintage detail applied now to many different styles of houses and periods (and yes, I do think it would look great - there are some with bands of color on them that look very evocative of 20s-30s), but I dont think they were really all that common back in the day.

Even selecting vintage fixtures - I do like your ebay find and think it would look great in the house, but authentic - nope .As someone else said, originally in this type of house it would have been a lightbulb hanging by a wire or in a ceramic light socket.

My approach is basically to tune into the style/esthetic of early 1900s and then go from there, using some vintage pieces and some modern. Using this approach, even track lighting could work - there are some that have a kind of a spare, utilitarian/industrial type of look (with nickel finish). Sorta what a 1920s track light WOULD HAVE looked like - had it existed in some parallel universe somewhere.

Well, I think you might be doing something more cottagey and softer than my "industrial farmhouse," but I just said that to illustrate the point that you do have some lattitude when thinking of "what fits" esp. with things easily changed like a light fixture. Structural things with houses I'd keep more intact and original.

BTW, I have this great art deco ceramic light socket with pull chain in my hallway that I put a vintage repro lightbulb in and I just LOVE IT. Thinking of doing something similar (or some other type of bare bulb fixture) for my modest vintage "industrial farmhouse" kitchen, and then have task lighting under cabinets/over sink - thats where you need it - you dont need the ceiling lit up with a gazillion can lights.. Those repro bulbs are great - they last forever and put out a beautiful amber light. Well see if it goes as long as the original Edison lightbulb that is still burning in the Smithsonian!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 10:56AM
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>>Well see if it goes as long as the original Edison lightbulb that is still burning in the Smithsonian!The 1933 house I grew up in had the original pointy light bulb (bigger than the repros they sell today) in the garage, still in use when my parents moved out in 1989. Guess I should have taken it!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 2:45PM
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OK, I'm leaning toward pal's simple solution for the kitchen. I think I'll get a 4th light, for the pantry area. I'm not so much wedded to precise period accuracy so much as cohesive vintage feel.

In the meantime, some of these pan lights are growing on me, and I'm considering one for the dining room. I'm not big on the ornate, victorian ones, but there's the one I posted above and then this other one here, with some etching on the bulbs. Thoughts on using one of them in the dining room?

Here is a link that might be useful: pan light with etched bulbs

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 12:59PM
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I really am liking the pan lights also. While they might not have been in the kitchen of your house in that era, I would go with what I liked. We have a fixture similar to the one pal suggested in the center of our kitchen & it does cast a shadow on the work areas. Additionally, we have a light over the sink and another over the stove. It takes every bit of those 3 to light my kitchen and it is still pretty dark (we have off-white cabinets). Recently added under the cabinet lighting to help with the shadowing.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 1:57PM
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My husband and I bought a pan light in an antique store in Troy, NY, and it's hanging over our dining room table in our 1922 Colonial Revival. It looks perfect.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Weedy, here is the light hanging in my entry hall:

And here is the one in my parlor:

Here is my dining room light:

Shade was like the parlor one, until the PO broke it painting just before I bought in '87. This is as close a shade as I could find--cost $25 and included two pendant shades for pantry light!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 7:55PM
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I just went thru this issue after I couldn't replace one of my lights that had broken. Ended up with these and i like them a lot

Here is a link that might be useful: pottery barn

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 11:10PM
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