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Lighting fixtures, or luminaires, come in a wide range of looks and installation types. Those most commonly used in the kitchen include:
Ceiling Fixtures: With flush-mount ceiling fixtures, the glass or diffuser touches the ceiling. Semi-flush- mount or close-to-ceiling fixtures project from the ceiling so that the bowl hangs a few inches away and indirect light reflects from the ceiling. Ceiling fixtures typically provide general lighting and hang in the center of the room or over a kitchen table or breakfast nook.
Also known as chain-hung or suspension fixtures, chandeliers hang from the ceiling and often add more pizzazz and take up more space than a ceiling fixture. They have two or more arms with uplights or downlights, and provide general lighting. Most people choose chandeliers for more formal dining tables or dining rooms.
Pendant lights are decorative fixtures, suspended from the ceiling, that offer both general and task lighting. For that reason, kitchen designers often place them over islands or open counter areas where conversation, dining, baking and food prep take place. Use mini-pendants (usually under 12 inches) for small spaces. As an alternative to using several individual pendants in one area, try a multi-light pendant or island light.
In the kitchen, wall-mounted fixtures typically take the form of sconces that match a chandelier, ceiling fixture or pendant. They can deliver general, task, or accent lighting. In the kitchen, common sconce placements include on either side of a hutch, piece of art, or decorative backsplash to help in creating a focal point.
Track or rail lighting systems offer a great deal of design flexibility. The track itself can be short or long, straight or curved, and flush to the ceiling or hanging from it. Pendants, spotlights, and other lighting fixtures can hang from the track at different heights and point in different directions, providing general, task and accent lighting as needed.
Recessed ceiling fixtures, or can lights, consist of housing installed within the ceiling, a lamp, and a small bit of trim to cover the hardware. If you want your lighting to be unobtrusive rather than decorative, this is the way to go. Recessed lighting can provide general lighting for the whole kitchen, task lighting over the sink or counter and accent lighting above shelving or wall art.
These lights come in the form of slender strips, mini track systems and small recessed or surface-mounted discs, also called pucks. Installed below wall cabinets, they supply task lighting by illuminating the counters and work surfaces without shadows. Used inside cabinets with glass fronts, the same lights display glassware or china.