Thinking about kitchen lighting.

I always think it’s funny when people comment on how “fast” I am about completing renovation projects in our house. Maybe it’s because I don’t post very often, or because I tend to not show a lot of in-progress shots? Whatever it is, it’s a big, fat illusion. We are the slowest renovators ever. Case in point, we’ve now been living with our “temporary” kitchen for more than SIX YEARS. In fact, it’s been a whole year and a half since I last wrote about how I should probably start getting to work on fixing up the kitchen for real. How much have I done since then? Zilch. I mean, unless you count complaining about it. I never procrastinate when it comes to complaining.


Photo by Karl Anderson & Anna Kern for Sköna hem nr 4, 2012

I like this solution a lot. My kitchen is actually a decent size (maybe 15’x15’?), but it’s a difficult space—it has three doorways, two tall windows that reach well below counter height, and a big hearth. There’s very little continuous wall space, so it seems small. The ceilings are high, though (about 10′), so having a bunch of dangling pendant lamps isn’t as precarious as it might seem. It would be easy to hang them high enough that the average person wouldn’t be smacking skull to bulb. Even a 3′ dangle would accommodate a 7′ person. (I’m over-thinking this, yes.) The height of the bulbs is adjustable by simply wrapping or unwrapping the cord. Nice. Plumen CFL bulbs would look great and be more efficient than incandescents.

The other good thing about this solution is that it provides an easy way to run lights across a wide distance without having to install additional electrical boxes in the ceiling (those of you who live in old houses with original ceilings understand why adding/moving boxes is a pain), since all of the cords run from the same source. Yes, track lighting would also be an option, and I’m not writing it off completely…but it can get expensive once you you enter the world of the non-ugly. (IKEA used to have a really nice and affordable track system called SÄNDA, but it was just discontinued. Sigh.)

Most importantly, this fits into my “unfancy” approach to kitchen renovation. It doesn’t alter the original structure of the house, it’s inexpensive, it’s simple to execute, easily reversible, and the materials are honest.


Photos from the Moormann-Berge Gästehaus // Interiors designed by Nils Holger Moormann

I think I might have posted these photos already ages ago, but I thought it was worth adding them to this post since this is essentially the same idea but with a branch instead of metal rod. I like this, too, but I think it’s better for over a dining table than for general kitchen lighting. I also love that built-in bench. All of the windows and doors in my kitchen make it impossible to do anything like that, but I would if I could.

28 comments
  1. FionaJun 4, 20121:32 pm

    Perfect! Good strong light too, which is what you really need for a kitchen work area.

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  2. KarolJun 4, 20122:01 pm

    Speaking of Plumen, I am currently working on a post and beam loft office space for a client and we are using 12 Plumen lights on different colored cords throughout their lunch room, it looks amazing. I love the look of the incandescent bulbs over the Plumen bulbs though because of the light that is given off. I really like this concept of lighting, it can be made inexpensively and look great.

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    Anna @ D16 /

    Karol, I think spaces like lunch rooms and kitchens are ideal for Plumen and other CFL bulbs. I definitely agree with you about the quality of light from incandescents overall, though—I still haven’t made the leap in the living areas of my home, despite having experimented with a number of bulbs. Fortunately, my house gets a lot of natural light and we tend to only use one room at a time, so our energy consumption is actually very low.

  3. ElissaJun 4, 20122:45 pm

    I guess speed of renovations is relative. We haven’t even gotten around to doing our temporary bathroom yet and we’ve been in the house almost 4 years. Might as well just wait and do the real one at this point. I do like those lights, though. They allow a lot of flexibility without a lot of fuss.

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    Anna @ D16 /

    Yeah, it took us four years to get around to tackling our bathrooms, too! The only reason we got the kitchen out of the way so quickly (it was the first thing we did—it pre-dates this blog) is because the existing one was non-functional.

  4. KathrynJun 4, 20123:31 pm

    I just showed this picture to my husband yesterday and then maybe made fun of him a little when he was not as excited about it for our kitchen as I was. I don’t know that he’ll go for it, but I’ll live vicariously through you. Our “temporary” kitchen is almost nine years old. Eh, it works. I’ve prettied it up some.

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    Anna @ D16 /

    Yeah, I’m definitely no planning on gutting mine or anything…just “prettying up” and making it a little more functional. :)

  5. planktonfisherJun 4, 20123:53 pm

    i really like the lamps and the idea of usig a branch oder maybe plumbing pipes?
    we have the same problem with the high ceilings and still no ceiling lamp in the kitchen ( for 1 year now)…
    where is the panda painting (found in your last kitchen post from?

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    Anna @ D16 /

    It’s a Marimekko tea towel! :)

  6. SherryJun 4, 20124:41 pm

    This is fantastic and it you have the height in your kitchen I say go for it! I loath track lighting. I think that’s been my biggest obstacle in replacing the lighting in our kitchen. Kitchen lighting, in my opinion is pretty much the hardest thing ever. I feel like I’m Indiana Jones looking for the ark of the covenant when all I want is decent lighting for our not so high ceilings that looks good, and also gives off enough light. Would love to be able to do something like this!

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  7. TessJun 4, 20125:50 pm

    I love this idea! I was thinking of doing it in our kitchen, but the ceilings are too low. I don’t like tract lighting, or recessed lighting. I am glad you are keeping the original plaster ceiling. We re-plastered ours when we bought the house (it was falling down). I really like your temporary kitchen, can’t wait to see what you doomed up with.

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    Anna @ D16 /

    Tess, I just took a look at your kitchen…the floor looks AMAZING. I have major floor envy. And sink envy!

  8. TessJun 4, 20125:52 pm

    Sorry I meant to write..Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Damn auto correct!

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    Anna @ D16 /

    HAHHAHAA, I didn’t even notice. Hopefully it’s not DOOM!

  9. JacquieJun 4, 20126:51 pm

    Good to hear about speed of renovations – i’m trying to do my one & only bathroom – and moving at a snail’s pace with all the choice and decisions – and mockery for my lack of speed & decision-making from friends & family is so beneficial… not. Kitchen will be next – I give myself 5 years to get both done.

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  10. miss alixJun 5, 201212:21 am

    i have wanted a dining room light like that branch one for a few years now. it wouldn’t work in our current dining room but i love it.

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  11. MonicaJun 5, 20122:37 am

    Oh, I love this. The bulbs with the simple cord. Just think of all of the color options! Am chuckling about your thoughts of someone smacking their head at 7′. Your concern for giants moves me. :)
    They discontinued the SÄN­DA in the US? They had a recall in Germany, but they are still available. I hope that it stays that way because I have been considering them for my son’s room and I would like to think about it for at least another couple of months.

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  12. SimoneJun 5, 20124:52 am

    Hi Anna;
    If you decide not to go to Ikea: this may sound weird, but I can highly recommend lighting by the German firm Erco. I used it once in a house design I made for the bedrooms and the people liked it so much they ordered lighting for the living room and kitchen after completion. Over here (Holland) they are actually in the middle when it comes to price (so not expensive not cheap). Here they give free lighting advice/ design the lightingplan with their products, so they select the types of light etc (all according to your specifications and requirements of course) so you get the best light for the function. It may seem far out considering this, but it really is worthwhile. What is great about Erco is that their light is just there. It is so natural and it blends into it’s surroundings so well you don’t even think about what source the light is coming from. It is used a lot in museums all over the world and it also adjusts very well into older buildings. As said I don’t know what it costs in the US but when I get another house this will be high on my wish list. It is also possible to use this for the basis/ foundation and spice it up with a few lights that have more “personality” or “presence” as it were like the ones in the pictures.
    Have a wonderful day!!!

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    Anna @ D16 /

    Thanks for the suggestion, Simone, but just from looking at their client list I know this will not be in my budget. We have at most $200 to spend on lighting, and we will be doing all of the work ourselves without an electrician. I did a quick Google search, and at least in the US their components are incredibly expensive (at least by my standards). Our kitchen lighting would easily add up to in excess of $5000, which is 5x the whole budget for the entire renovation. Our house just isn’t that fancy. ;)

  13. SimoneJun 5, 20125:07 am

    P.S. here they are: http://www.erco.com/contact/usa-2371/en/contact-1.php#United States. I have no idea where Edison is though…

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  14. SimoneJun 5, 20127:23 am

    O I’m very sorry about that. The house I did the fixtures used started around 70 euros each so it did not add up to such high amounts as 1000 nds of euros for one room. It is too bad their website is so corporation oriented because it does not -in my mind- do justice to the quality of what you get as a homeowner when you employ them. Call it a wellkept secret.

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  15. JuliaJun 8, 20125:10 am

    Love this idea – I just did our kitchen lights and I’m not particularly happy with them. (Although they were only $135 each, so I guess I can’t complain!) Monica has a good idea.. these could be easily painted with glass paint to fit different colours. Have you seen the mason jar lights? They are pretty cool too.

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    Anna @ D16 /

    I have seen the mason jar lights! Not my style, but nice in a country house maybe. :)

  16. SamoneJun 8, 20125:46 am

    Anna, you adorable little creature – I love that photo of you in your teen bedroom. I used to do that same expression in photos!!! I never really knew what to do when someone (rarely) got a camera out back then – crazy-glee seemed the best option. Xx

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  17. TimothyJun 8, 20125:54 am

    Im a real fan of Hulger’s Plumen 001. I actually refitted my rooms before there was a custom made solution to the pendant sockets by hulger. Took me some effort, but it looks great. Strictly recommended! Add some Pics once you did it!

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  18. Holland and GreenJul 3, 20129:07 am

    I like the idea. Looks so natural and full of character

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  19. JebberAJul 12, 20128:46 am

    I adore the look too and would install it in a second but wonder about bare bulbs blinding me. I dont’ like bright lights in my eyes. Does anyone else have that concern? Does anyone have a solution?

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    Anna @ D16 /

    I have several bare bulb fixtures in my house, and that’s really never been an issue for me. You can use silver-tipped bulbs if you’re concerned, though.

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