Are your pendants a focal point in your kitchen?

Molly PhillipsMarch 14, 2013

I've discovered my obsessive personality once I started spending hours researching every.little.thing. about kitchen choices and I need some perspective.

I'm nearing the end of our reno but still need to pick out backsplash, pendants and stools and I'm stuck. Part of it is because I'm decision weary, but I'm also budget weary as well. Still, I'm obsessing over these pendants - at $250 each (and I need 3). I know there are less expensive options out there but I keep coming back to these.

So help me with perspective. Are pendants something I'm going to notice every day and think "wow, glad I spent the money there!" or are they going to fade in the background and I'm going to think "wow, should have saved that money and put it somewhere else!"

FWIW, I'm jealous of those of you who chose a great backsplash first and designed around it, rather than playing it safe and choosing a neutral palette (in my case, taupey-gray quartz and white shaker cabinets) and then getting stuck when you want to add in personality. As a non-designer, I can't figure out where to add it in without looking like I tried too hard and it ends up looking random, rather than cohesive.

p.s. I can't figure out how to imbed a photo taken directly from a website using my Mac, so my apologies for making you click a link. But please do. Also, if you have any cheaper alternatives based on what you see here, please post!

Here is a link that might be useful: Clarity Pendants by WAC

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Just want to say those are great. I think lighting is a good place to add interest, especially since "splurging" on those is a lot less expensive than splurging on custom cabinets or super high-end counters. (Though maybe your cabs and counters ARE super high-end...)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 3:09PM
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    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 3:27PM
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I think they are nice looking, though I would be afraid that they would give off strange shadows given the pattern in the glass.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 4:37PM
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this is me :"wow, should have saved that money and put it somewhere else!". I did save on the pendants and I think they receded into the background. I am however extremely glad that I spent money on really nice UCL since I personally need lots of light when I work.
Those pendants are beautiful. For myself I would be afraid to touch them to clean them. This is a consideration for me since I cannot vent to the outside.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 4:54PM
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Molly Phillips

Well, my cabinets and counter aren't super high end, so yes, we've saved some in those areas. But I do have champagne tastes!

Breezy, thanks for posting that picture. I have a beef with you, my search for a cheaper pendant, I googled a post that you had apparently started some time ago with a really cool pendant in it. I was excited enough to want to find it but couldn' was also in the $250 range, I think. Did you ever end up choosing something?

I am a little concerned about cleaning them but all lights need cleaning, I figure.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Just my 2 cents but I'm really glad we splurged on our pendants. We had a really hard time choosing pendants, and even went through several iterations before making our final choice. And by several iterations I mean we had about 4 different styles of glass shades we tried (bought and couldn't return, although I sold some on CL), and then we went an entirely different direction and bought completely different lights.
So we went from these, which we fondly started calling the beer can lights:

To these:

They actually kind of do both: they disappear, in a way, but also add a nice (we think) accent. So while they are not exactly a focal point, I think they are important in the overall design.

After rereading this post, I'm not sure if this helps or just further muddies the water.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 9:53PM
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I do love the pendant you have your eye on. I noticed it the other day in a photo on Houzz.
It is very modern. Does the modern feel go with the rest of your kitchen? While I love the fixture, I am not a fan of seeing bulbs through clear glass. I think it makes too much glare.
I really like this fixture by Progress lighting(P6135). It is modern, clear glass with an inner shade and very inexpensive, approximately $50 on Ebay.

From Drop Box

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:02PM
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We splurged on our pendant (we just have one). But I have to say I notice it every day and every day I'm glad we splurged.

Realistically, our pendant cost less than 1% of our total kitchen...and for something we notice every day, that is not much.

This post was edited by itsallaboutthefood on Thu, Mar 14, 13 at 22:23

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:22PM
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I'm not sure what you mean by adding in personality. Do you mean some colour or some texture or a little bit of tension in the design elements or a real WOW factor. You have taupey-gray quartz (shiny and neutral) and you have white shaker cabinets (neutral) and now you want to add glass (shiny neutral) lights. I'm not sure these lights are going to do it.

Just playing devils advocate.

Our pendant lights were more than the $250 but my DH fell in love with them and they make a statement in conjunction with the wood on our peninsula and our stools.

So what is it you are trying to do with the lights in your kitchen. Leela4 gives a good example - she went from lights that look nice to lights that set her kitchen alive. And she added a couple of blue accessories to really bring cohesion to the space.Just playing devils advocate.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:37PM
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I'm not a designer either. One important thing I have learned is when I find the ONE it just feels right. If these pendants feel right for your vision and the cost seems justified, then for me there would be no question. Most often it's those little accents that bring it all together.

Also, when I am in the situation you are in, I wait it out. I keep looking for awhile, then I forget it for a week or so. Occasionally I have had lightening bolts of inspiration and find a cheaper/better alternative. Other times my first choice is right and the order is placed. And let me tell you, those few times I've went with something cheaper/different than my gut felt was right I have regretted and hated the decision! This is why my MB vanity still has no lights 1 1/2 years later. Haven't found the right ones yet!

FWIW, I love those pendants. I could see them above my island:) Maybe if we had pics of your kitchen and personal style we could better help with advice on the style.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Have you seen these lights in person? Have you seen them turned on? I am another person who cannot stand looking through glass at a glaring pendant. Have you ever had a migraine? Your sister, your mother? If yes, I would not get these lights. I was in my late 40s when I got my first one, but my sister had them for years before me.

I also do not like the "uneven" light from some fixtures. I am in agreement with the other poster above, who thought that these could send out an irregular pattern of dark and light bands because of the ridges in them. If a minor light does this, it is not so bad. But pendants are usually a major lighting source over a work area or a dining area. That is where one wants even lighting. Ask about this if you cannot see them in person before ordering. And their bulb looks odd. Is it something you can replace is a regular store?

Okay, now that I trashed your lights, I have to say that they are very pretty. I am not sure that they have the WOW factor that you should be getting for $250, but they are sweet and I like that they are hand-blown. You might visit some glassblowers near you and see what they can offer that is similar, but local, and with more tint or color to give it the WOW factor to set off your kitchen. A bit of color and an aurora-borealis finish could stop the glare I am concerned about.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:14AM
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I have "beehive" pendants that are very similar to the ones that Breezy showed but bigger. They cast the shadows realism is talking about. I posted them a few weeks ago. I am not good with linking but you can easily find my posts, both the one with just the lights and the one with my "almost done" kitchen reveal.

The light is fabulous and the shadows are awesome. In fact, people always comment about how much they love the shadow pattern. The glass does not in any way affect the quality of the ambient light in the room and my task lighting is provided by my UCL, which I don't even always use.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:31AM
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I'm still at the early planning stages and am shocked by how much light fixtures cost! However, I think those pendants are really unique and very pretty, and in the scheme of things as to what you spent on the kitchen, will be worth it if they make you happy! (and I've seen many that cost a lot more that I don't think are nearly as nice!)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:07AM
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Debbi Branka

My pendants are clearly noticeable and don't melt into the background after a while. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Someone here pointed me to them on They were $200 each, but I love them! (Excuse the mudding - these were just after they were installed, and outlets for the UTC lights too.)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:12PM
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Molly Phillips

You all raise great points and I'll try to answer some here.

No, I haven't seen them in person, which is partly why I asked the question about focal points - I think it's easier when looking at them up close and online to obsess rather than once you see them hanging. Plus I'm not sure about the glare. I think they are beautiful, but I wondered if IRL they would just look like any other type of glass pendant. I actually found them here but I can't remember the user's name. They looked beautiful in her kitchen, though.

NYCbluedevil, your beehive pendants are part of my inspiration! I loved them but they are WAAAY out of my budget.

I do wonder about the shadows and glare to some extent - both my parents had migraines and I occasionally get super horrible headaches (not sure they're technically a migraine or not). However, I have good recessed lighting and UCL already and would probably use these as more of an accent, less for task.

I'm attaching a photo, but am hanging my head in shame at what you're seeing. The bases are IKEA and the drawer/door fronts are arriving from Scherr's today, so half of my stuff is in but not covered and the other half is still out, so it looks horribly cluttered. My counters are also not in yet so I'm using plywood at the moment. You obviously can't get a great idea but maybe an overall snapshot of the shape of the kitchen and how the pendants will be viewed. The peninsula will have a rainbow-shaped counter where we'll put chairs, so seating will be there as well.

As for adding personality - I have bright fiestaware, which will be displayed behind glass doors, so I want to bring out those colors but also don't want the kitchen to move to resembling a clown. I had considered colored pendants but nothing speaks to me, so the personality I thought I'd bring in would be in the counter stools (with a funky print on them) and a throw rug.

I like deb's pendants and also considered something like those or restoration hardware's benson pendants. Even at $200, that's a $150 savings when you buy 3. However, because of the size of my kitchen, I thought I may need something that was clear rather than colored so the eye doesn't stop. I like that one from ebay, too (and the price!)...the rest of my house is not modern but more transitional, so I think I can get away with something a little funky.

Thanks for making it through my l-o-n-g thought process!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:43PM
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Leela4 I love the slate looking floors that go beyond your wood floors. Can you tell me if they are in fact slate? I can't seem to find anything like yours. They have a warm feeling to them. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 4:03PM
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sam-the floors are technically quartzite. We've had them in our main entryway (beyond kitchen in second pic) since 2007, then added it to the other side of the kitchen, where you can barely see them in the first pic, when we remodeled in 2010. They have held up quite well.

The main entryway quartzite we got from Emser tile and it was called golden sands or something like that. The second we got from Daltile, but I don't know what they called it. It turned out to be a good match.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Here they are in Soibean's kitchen!

Here is a link that might be useful: Soibean's kitchen

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:06AM
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Ours are a design element in our kitchen

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

It depends. My pendants are nice and they work, but the tile behind the cooktop is really the focal point in my kitchen. But as others have posted here, the lighting can be the focal point depending on their size, shape, color, finish and height that they're hung as well as how much attention is drawn by the rest of the space.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:41AM
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I spent a lot on my 3 pendants (Hubbardton Forge) that are over the peninsula, and thought they would be a focal point, but they don't seem to be. I think that's for several reasons.

An architect told me, whatever else I did with my design, to be sure and have a wide soffit over my peninsula the length of the imaginary wall that separates the kitchen from a large DR-sized eating area, and the pendants hang down from this soffit in a way forming a screen--an effect that I like. Each of these rooms has a large triple casement on opposite sides from each other and parallel to the peninsula, and my eyes go to the views whenever I enter each room, since both windows look onto a beautiful treed/wetlands area. The fact that you enter either room from doors on each side of the peninsula, means you're looking past the pendants, not directly at them. When I'm working in the kitchen, I'm either at the sink on the outside wall looking at the front view, or at the sink in the peninsula sort of under the pendants looking out at the back view. Only the person sitting at the end of the table has a direct view of the pendants. From the LR, those sitting on the sofa might have an angled view of the pendants through a doorway, but their main focal point would be the fireplace. Probably the only time you might notice the pendants, is when I have laid out a potluck on the peninsula at night with the lights on.

So, long-winded (I'm also obsessive!) way of saying walk yourself though both normal and entertaining days, through your eyes (paying attention or preoccupied?) or a guests, and see if that helps.

BTW, we got a pretty foyer pendant to hang in place of our old non-descript one at our previous place to help give a good first impression as people came in the door. I hadn't realized that it refracted light all over the ceiling and the walls. I didn't like that at all, to the point that when choosing the lighting fixtures for our new house, I was always consciously aware that I wanted SOFTNESS emanating from the fixtures!


    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:03AM
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