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Pendant lighting not just for kitchens anymore

Angi Sago, design center director for Traton Homes, first noticed the trend about 10 years ago. And kitchen islands have never been the same. The transformation came with the introduction of pendant lighting, those sleek, hanging fixtures that illuminate not just kitchens anymore but almost any room in the house.

“Back then, they were super basic, not at all to the extent we have now,” said Sago. “We had maybe 10 to 15 styles to pick from. And they stayed pretty much in the kitchen, over islands and breakfast bars. Now we’re seeing them in bathrooms where customers put them over vanities. About 80 percent of our customers want them.”

Thanks to televised home shows and online sites such as Pinterest, homeowners are getting good ideas of where pendant lights can shine a bit of style. From the basic drop bar with a glass globe, the look now includes chandeliers that work in foyers, dining rooms, breakfast nooks and rec room bars with elegant finishes well beyond builder basic. Clear glass filament bulbs add an industrial, urban chic, while more elaborate designs in brass and nickel may include crystals reminiscent of an old-fashioned chandelier.

“An oversized pendant light gives a more contemporary look than a traditional chandelier,” said Jenny Hulsey, a designer with Cumming-based SR Homes. “In foyers with really high ceilings, they can also be a focal point because they draw the eye.”

At the Progressive Lighting store in Roswell, Andrea Sims has also seen the demand for pendants increase as she’s worked with builders and clients to select light fixtures. And she’s seen the styles adapt with the times.

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“Right now, pendants are oversized, which works with a big island and high ceilings,” she said. “A 7- or 9-foot island might have multiple pendants that drop 10 to 14 inches, when they used to be just 6 to 8. The added length makes a more dramatic statement.”

Sims also puts clear-glass bulbs at the top of the “gotta have” list, not just for their looks but for practicality as well. “They actually add a lot of extra light, so we’re seeing people using them in hallways, in powder rooms over pedestal sinks, even over nightstands in bedrooms.”

Another trendy style is the lantern-look pendant. “Instead of having three pendants, people are going for two of these lanterns that add a modern farmhouse look,” said Sims. “And sometimes they’re even staggered at different heights to bring a totally different style to the space.”

Installing pendant lights is more involved than traditional fixtures or ceiling cans, said Sago. “They have to be wired and switched separately, so they’re definitely an upgrade. Some electricians will charge more if the lights have to be individually strung; that makes them more labor-intensive.”

But the good news is the pendants themselves are fairly affordable and can make a major style change to almost any room.

“An oversized, clear globe pendant at Progressive is about $100 to $200,” said Sims. “They’re not outrageous, but they can change the look dramatically.”

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