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Should You Put a Chandelier in the Kitchen?

A interior photo of kitchen white and blue theme with chandelier.

Kitchen chandeliers are becoming a trend in many new homes, but there are a lot of reasons why this might not be the right lighting for your kitchen.  There are a lot of shows and design magazines that are insisting that homeowners rip out their existing lighting and replace it with a chandelier, often for reasons as vague as this, from design company One Kings Lane:

“Offset the sleek lines and utilitarian finishes of a kitchen with a playful, sculptural chandelier. This gilded bamboo-style fixture anchors the island as the center of the room, while its open design ensures a clear view of the stunning range hood. If you have the space, hang a pair of matching chandeliers for double the impact.”

The truth is that while they may look good in pictures, consider if any of these conditions apply to your lifestyle and kitchen design before moving forward with a kitchen chandelier.

1. Chandeliers tend to provide poor lighting.

Close up view of kitchen chandelier with led lights on.

Chandeliers can be beautiful, but they are designed to be decorative, not provide great lighting.  Most modern chandeliers have crystals or glass elements that refract light.  This can help light spread throughout a large room, but the quality of the light will be very poor.

That tends to make chandeliers a good choice for large ballrooms and dining halls, but a poor choice for rooms such as kitchens where being able to see clearly is of upmost importance.

The exception to this is a chandelier that provides a good quality of light. If you really want to have a kitchen chandelier, look for a model that does not refract light, but rather enhances and focuses the light from a light bulb.  Overhead track lighting is probably one of the best choices, but if you want something fancier, avoid glass and crystals.

2. Chandeliers collect dust.

A photo of dirty chandelier hanged on yellow ceiling.

The primary purpose of a kitchen is to prepare food.  That means that everything that goes into a kitchen needs to be as clean as possible.If you clean your kitchen yourself, you already know that you don’t want to make more work for yourself. This type of lighting fixture comes with hundreds of small surfaces.

Each one of those surfaces has to be cleaned on a regular basis.  Since surfaces in a kitchen can collect dust and germs from food, that means the chandelier will have to be cleaned on a weekly basis.

Many restaurants have realized this problem.  Since restaurants are inspected frequently, they have to keep things as clean as possible. After many studies showed that chandeliers were among the dirtiest surfaces in many restaurants, a lot of establishments started ripping them out.

Chandeliers in dining rooms were often too high to clean easily, and could often go for years without a thorough cleaning.  Once tested, they were often filthier than the bathrooms.  That accumulated dirt, along with the associated germs, was raining down on patrons while they ate.

In a kitchen, the potential for food particles reaching the chandelier is even higher.  Steam and spills can carry food particles up to the ceiling, and then they accumulate on the chandelier.  If professional restaurants couldn’t figure out how to keep these light fixtures clean, it is pretty unlikely that you will be able to.

3. Chandeliers are difficult to install.

A photo of hands with screwdriver installing lamp chandelier.

If your kitchen does not already have track lighting in the ceiling, you’ll have to install a new circuit in order to hang a chandelier.  Particularly fancy models with a lot of light bulbs will need to have two or more circuits connected.  That means hiring an electrician, who may very likely have to tear out drywall in order to install the needed circuitry.

Even if you have the proper wiring installed, a chandelier will need to have a dimmer switch.  Installing one on your own often takes a few hours and some basic electrical know-how.  Actually hanging the chandelier is often a job that requires at least two people, due to the sheer weight of these light fixtures.

4. Chandeliers are just a trend.

A stylish kitchen in blue tones with elegant chandelier.

Chandeliers in kitchens are a relatively new phenomenon, and odds are that after people who have had them installed realize how unsanitary and impractical they are, they’ll want to have them ripped out and replaced with more sensible lighting.  That means that the odds of a kitchen with a chandelier still being “in style” after a few years are fairly low.  It’s probably not worth remodeling a kitchen if it’s just going to look outdated in a few years.

If you’re thinking of remodeling your kitchen, replacing your lighting with a chandelier is probably a trend that you should skip.  While it may be trendy to add one today, it’s a decision that you’ll quickly come to regret after just a few weeks of keeping it clean.

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