Pictures of Kitchens with no recessed lighting

kitchen2011November 6, 2011

Hi there -

I seem to be the only one who isn't sure they want recessed lighting in their kitchen. I think it looks great in some places, but I am hoping for a very classic look in my kitchen, and recessed feels too modern.

Wondering if any of you like your non-recessed lighting solution and would be willing to post a picture or give me any ideas/suggestions. Pictures would be especially helpful! I'm posting this here, rather than in lighting, because the folks on this board seem to be so helpful with posting pictures of their completed kitchens.

I'll definitely need:

  • Task lighting over the sink - note there are windows, there an no cabinets, so undermount is not an option. I've shown pendants here but that's just an idea - not set in stone.

  • Task lighting over the counter to the right of the range. Same as above re: no undermounts.

  • Task lighting over the island - that will be a primary work space, so whatever I put there will have to allow for comfortable standing, so that would presumably be a flush mount or a high pendant.

  • Lighting for the back section by the door. There is an existing glass front cabinet I'm retaining there, which shows in the 2nd picture.

  • Lighting for the cabinet run that shows in the 2nd picture. This is at the bottom of the diagram. There are true uppers there, so that could be undermount, but I don't think that would give me enough light to see in to the cabinets.

My ceilings are 100" that's just shy of 8.5 ft. FYI the layout is set in stone, because the cabinets are already made.

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Since you almost certainly want pendants over the island, I would consider bracket lights or sconces over the sink and by the other window.

Under cabinet everywhere you can get it.

Two semi-flush off the corner of the island in the fridge aisle. Make sure you can open the upper cabinets with their placement.

A semi flush in the back door alcove and a pendant over the table.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 8:56PM
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Fori is not pleased

About the layout that is set in stone...

I like it a lot! I love the blocker cabinet on the island that maintains separation between kitchen and dining without really being in the way. What was the question? Nobody needs recessed lights. What a waste of a spot to put something good in, right?

O, lighting. I used cheesy faux 50s lights for task lighting with some good CA title whatever compliant fluorescents from Rejuvenation and they were excellent. You have a very classic thing going on and might find something inspiring on their website. No cans there, except perhaps for the ones I used.

blurry photo:

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 12:22AM
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I know dainty pendants are "in" these days, but we went for a beefier "pendant" over our sink and used 2 of the same over our island (approx 15" wide each). They are the same kind you can sometimes see in diners. We have varying ceiling heights and so 2 hang a long way and one is semi flush mounted.
We knew we did not want recessed lights and so used more stylish fixtures to be a feature. Hi hats are more neutral and more modern/current than we wanted. We also were able to use fewer fixtures and therefore pay less on installation, but that was a bonus because installation costs were not a factor when we chose them.
The kitchen is not done so I haven't posted finished pix yet.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 12:44AM
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Here is my semi flush mount in my small kitchen. I have LED under every upper. My flush mount is at the minimum wattage for my space so I was pushing it and could have went with a larger fixture, but I loved this one! With my undercounter LED and my range hood lighting I have plenty of light. I have LED on dimmers and I have a strip over the sink too. I didn't do anything hanging because of the size and layout of my kitchen and the tall people in my world! I love this Hubbardton Forge fixture. First pic has my undercabinet lighting turned on. I have all lights on dimmers and love that feature.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:38AM
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Wow, your kitchen is going to be beautiful! I love your layout. I immediately thought of Cali Wendy's kitchen when I saw your layout design, probably because of the way the island has a higher end (which i love btw). So, here is a link to her kitchen, when she recently posted her island pendents. Spoiler alert...I just looked at it and she does have some can lights :( Sorry, but thought maybe you would still get a visual....

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

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:43AM
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The link is one of several that don't have recessed lighting. I think breezygirl also, but not sure any of the lights are up yet.

For me, its not that they are recessed as much as the light is very shadowy because its directional. Just about all down lights are this way. A pendant without a shade or one that is open only on the bottom, as shown in your drawings, will function as a down light. When there are multiple fixtures to try and defeat the issue, I find it just produces more shadows.

They can be glarey when the bulb can be seen - an unlooked for consequence of high pendants. They can also reflect off shiney counter material making working at the sink hard. They can shine directly into the eyes of seated people.

I admit to being sensitive about it - I love rimless glasses and I wear coke bottle lenses. Directional down lights cause glare on the lenses.

I use lights that have frosted shades because they diffuse the light in all directions. I have used up lights but you need a lotta wattage to get enough brightness bounced off the ceiling.

Sabjimata took an interesting tact. She used multiple sizes of the same plain fixture. Not that they are ugly, but they tend to disappear.

I would resist the urge to put only two pendants over the island. It would be a little different if you were thinking about schoolhouse or other big glass shades, but try not to place the center of the light cone behind where you're planning on working.

You might consider trading some of the wall washers for led strips inside the glass cabinets and adding some non-task specific lighting centered by the back door with a simple flushmount centered in the back area. Maybe add another two fixtures roughly centered over the two aisles for everyday lighting.

I have an affection for linear chandeliers and would consider one of those over the island - they don't all have tons of crystals. Or maybe a low height ceiling fan with a light. Or doing two or three mini cans with diffusion lens centered over the working side of the island and let walking around lights take care of the seating side. This can be an ok solution - not a lotta swiss cheese, but also not a lot of visible fixtures.

Here is a link that might be useful: sabjimata - same fixtures, different sizes

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 8:20AM
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My wife was very anti-recessed light in our new build, so we took a smattering of different types to light up the kitchen.

We used down sconces on sink wall, they are high enough (nearly up at the 9' ceilings) and there are enough of them to not cast shadows, otherwise bmorepanic would be right in them being worse than recessed.

We used a center pendant with exposed bulb. It's not our favorite. We're used to it now, and it's fun to look at, but it is probably going to be move elsewhere in the house, or I might get crazy DIY and do some frosted / striped / painted / design thing to the clear shade.

The track lighting over the peninsula is great for brightness, and fun to look at, but currently has halogen bulbs. Once I remember to do it, I'm swapping in LEDs. The current ones feel more light heat lamps than lights.

The under cabinet LEDs and above cabinet rope lights are great. Both very cheap and we would do those again in a heartbeat.

Please ignore the hazy light from the windows, I have no idea how to take a photo.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:07AM
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I did not want cans in the kitchen, but DH insisted we would cut off a finger without them. So I gave in and we probably have two more than actually needed. The 6 in the center are on one switch (don't think we needed the two closest to range since it has lights) and the outer (single) two are on a switch - those are the ones I turn on the most.

They show up more in pictures than IRL. That said, I won the battle over not having cans in the great room and MBR with the cathedral ceilings. ;D

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:15AM
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Ahhh brickton - I love seeing your kitchen again. I never thought I'd have track light envy until I saw yours ;). Of course, I love the other elements in your kitchen too. You can get a spray bottle to frost glass at any big box store and it comes out nice. Just make sure to spray from a decent distance so it goes on evenly.

bmore has a good point. Our hanging pendants are enclosed with a frosted and not frosted combo of stripes. I think totally clear glass might be harsh but I do love the look of it. If you do any like that, it would be for low wattage bulbs if you don't want glare.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:26AM
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Thanks so much for the feedback and comments. So helpful! I responded to everyone below I think and have two alternatives at the very end I'd like your feedback on.

palimpset - Do you think I should not even consider having flush mount over island and pendants at window only? The idea appeals to me since it would open up the space. I'm thinking maybe something like this:

link here:

I have a chandelier similar to this one that I'm hoping to re-use at the dining room table:

The only place I could put brackets or sconces at the sink would be hanging off the cabinets - there is no room above the windows, it's an oddity of this house that top of the window trim just about touches the bottom of the crown molding. That's an interesting idea though, and one I hadn't considered.

Fori - Thanks for the positive comments about the layout - I'm in the OMG phase - the contractor starts this week and I am second guessing everything even though it's too late for that since the cabinets are made! And I love your kitchen it's classic but still fun. I hope mine wont come off too serious.

Dianalo - If I do pendants over the island I was looking at a pendant like this one:
link here:
These have a very large diameter of 18".

If I did that I was thinking pendants also at the sink would be too much. But you did that and like it I take it? I know you haven't really posted your finished pictures yet, but would you be willing to share a picture that shows off your lighting?

Enduring - that is a beautiful fixture. I see why you like it so much. How did you figure the needed light? The formula that is used a lot on the lighting forum (sq ft x 35 lumens divide by 500 or 600 lumens per recessed fixture) results in me "needing" something like 15 cans in my large but not huge kitchen (The entire space is 30 x 14, but the kitchen portion is more like 14 x 11 + 6.5 x 8.5 for that smaller back section by the door.) That seems like so much too much because right now I just have two flush mounted fixtures and one very old fashioned recessed light over the sink and while it's not super bright it's not terrible.

MissyV - Thanks for the positives - as I said above, I need any reassurance I can get at this point! Cali_Wendy's kitchen is EXACTLY what I am going for in terms of cabinets especially. I never saw her pics before, but it's so close to what I am hoping for - even the wall paint color is similar to what I'm planning. I hope I made my step up high...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 11:17PM
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Even though it's a totally different style, here's a link to Yesdear's kitchen. It doesn't have recessed lighting, so you can get an idea how it looks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yesdear's Kitchen

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 4:30AM
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Wow that is a spectacular kitchen and I so love the lighting. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 10:25AM
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