Creating Ambiance in the Kitchen

I found a pair of mid-century lamps last week at a Barn Sale here in Nashville that I couldn’t pass up.  I bought them without knowing whether or not they worked, so I set them up in the kitchen to test them with light bulbs.  


quick photo with my cell phone 

Thankfully, they didn’t require rewiring.  They are in great shape and will work perfectly in on either end of the fireplace mantel in one of my client’s atomic ranch home.  Although I’ve promised them to her, I left the lamps in my kitchen for a couple of days and have discovered by accident how very warm and cozy it is to have lamp lighting here!


via Pinterest


Why not have a lamp or pair of lamps in the kitchen?  Eating dinner last night with just those lamps on made my family feel like we were having a special dinner in a romantic restaurant. When these lamps move on to their new home, I’m going to experiment with some other lamps I have in my prop room (yes, I have a prop room).  


via Pinterest


Does this seem strange to you?  Ever thought of trying it before?  I always like to have a variety of light sources in every room – hanging light fixtures, sconces, table lamps, accent lamps, etc. Using different lighting at different times of the day for different activities creates warmth and ambiance.


via Pinterest


No matter what your decorating style, this is an idea that can add ambiance to any kitchen.


via Pinterest

 What are your thoughts on using lamps in a kitchen?  Yay or nay?


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47 thoughts on “Creating Ambiance in the Kitchen

  1. Emily says:

    I’ve had a lamp on my kitchen counter for the last 5 years, and I love it. (Unlike several of the photos above, I don’t have it near the sink, because that just seems like it would get in the way.) It does add a nice ambiance! My lamp is a small Ikea lamp, with clean lines. I wouldn’t want something with a more ‘romantic’ feel, because that seems to connote more fabric/decoration than would fit in a kitchen.

  2. Andrea says:

    A long time ago I saw a photo with a pair of huge, awesome, sculptural lamps on the kitchen island. Gasp. Yes, right in the middle of a major workspace! I have played with this in my kitchen — but I can’t get it to work with my big tole chandy. You know me…I will probably keep trying. 😉

  3. Tiffany says:

    We just moved into a new home, and there is poor lighting around the sink. I have a spot for a lamp that would be perfect for a lamp I think! I’m excited to try it! Thanks for the idea.

  4. MK says:

    I have always kept a lamp on my kitchen counter. The original reason was b/c I happened upon an adorable one that matched my decor perfectly and had to have it. But after using it, I loved the cozy feel of it. I had it in my other home for years, but when purging to move, I donated it. Once here in the new house, I missed having a lamp in kitchen, and then happened upon a sterling silver teapot that had been converted to a lamp with an adorable burlap shade. SOLD! Though I have under-cabinet lighting as task lighting, I love the lamp light when I am not using the under cabinet lights. I keep it on a lot as a nightlight too as I use a 40 or 60 watt bulb. I don’t have enough space in my kitchen for a pair of lamps, but if I did I would steal your idea:)

  5. Jenny B. says:

    I have wanted a lamp in my kitchen for a while now! 🙂 I have limited counter space, though, and I can’t find one short enough to fit under the cabinets. I brought home a small one from Target, but it was an inch too high. I’ve measured several at Target and Hobby Lobby since then, but they’re all just a hair too tall. So… I’m still hunting. The best spot to put a lamp in my kitchen is close to the stove, and I know it would get nasty greasy, so I’m not 100% sold on the idea. If I had a big island or space near the sink, it might work better. I’ve even thought about putting one up on top of the cabinets, but I don’t know where I would plug it in. Also, I guess it would just have to stay on all the time since I wouldn’t want to climb up there to switch it on and off. Ha!

    • MarySue says:

      I have an idea for you, Jenny B… How about a mason jar lamp? You could use a pint jar, with a small shade, and I’ll bet it would fit under your cabinet, if it would fit your style. 🙂 You can purchase a light kit mason jar lid for little $, and as a bonus, you can put kitchen-related things or seasonal items in the jar. Or wrap the jar in burlap or fabric or ribbon or lace or twine — Tons of possibilities to personalize it!

        • Linda says:

          Do you happen to know the wall color in the 2nd photo above, the one that appears similar to Revere Pewter? Gorgeous kitchen………..I want to go gray so bad but, I just can’t do it. It doesn’t work in my home with all my red undertoned case goods and warm undertoned golds, greens, reds, and creamy whites fabrics. DH would die if I wanted to buy all new furnishings………

          • Kristie Barnett says:

            It looks a lot like BM’s Thunder to me. Darker than Revere Pewter. If you want to go gray, go for one with a blue or green undertone. Revere Pewter can go pink and looks kinda flat with the colors you mentioned. Thunder, too. Check out something like BM Camouflage – that would be a good backdrop for your woodtones. 🙂

  6. Michelle says:

    I have also had small lamps in strategic locations on my kitchen counter, and I absolutely love it. It makes the kitchen warm and cozy either first thing in the morning (when you might not be ready for overhead bright lights) and during the evening or when entertaining. It has been especially nice while we have been renovating our home…getting rid of the fluorescent-only fixtures. The lamp light is much kinder lighting. As we make updates to the home, I will also be changing the style of lamp/shade, but I will definitely be keeping a lamp in the kitchen. =)

  7. Anette says:

    It sure looks pretty and cosy – but it wouldn’t work for me. I love cooking and need as much counter surfaces as possible. However, those oil paintings on that last photo adds ambiance as well, without occupying any work surface. Think I’ll steal that idea instead!

  8. Susan Thompson says:

    I agree, having a lamp or two in the kitchen when done right can be an interesting focal point. I have a tall lamp placed on a small cabinet when you walk into my kitchen from the side door. It’s a soft light and a great accent piece. Not to mention when used with a timer works out great for not having to turn on a kitchen light for a little midnight snack attack 🙂

  9. Cindy Hall says:

    I’ve had them in my kitchen for over 20 years. I have always love the warmth it brings to the room. I will only use the overhead lighting while I’m cooking. I just hate overhead lights!

  10. Paula says:

    I have had a lamp in my kitchen for years with a 7-watt bulb that I leave on all the time. Also serves as a nightlight which is especially nice for houseguests.

  11. kate massie says:

    i’ve had a lamp on my kitchen counter for about 20 years and love it. As you say Kristie it ramps the coziness factor right up and gives the perfect amount of light for serving up the food and eating. My current lamp is an elephant with a fabric shade. I like that he’s a little unexpected for the kitchen.

  12. Cathy says:

    I use a set of buffet lamps in the kitchen and absolutely love them! A variety of lighting in the kitchen
    works wonders in my opinion!

  13. Nikki says:

    I love it! I have five lamps in my entry and den areas that I turn on/off every day to add ambience, but it never occurred to me to put one (or two) in the kitchen! My husband thinks I’m nuts “going around switching lamps on and off when the overhead light works just fine.” *shaking my head*

    I just read another blog this morning where she added bamboo blinds in her kitchen windows, but in one of her photos, it was the two little lamps on either side of her kitchen sink that caught my eye! (Makeup by Tiffany D blog for credit)

    Must be a sign! I’m going to do it! Thank you for a timely post!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Yes, it does sound like a sign, Nikki! I have kinda hated overhead lights since I was a kid. Only turn them on to get into the room, then I go for the lamps so I don’t feel as though I’m in an office!

  14. Susan says:

    Doesn’t seem strange at all. Adding an additional light source to the kitchen counter as well as in the bathroom is my favorite way to add warmth and comfort to my home. Sometimes I use lamps other times I go with clean lined metal or wood lanterns. I didn’t care for the old style fake candle look but the technology in the newer battery operated candles has made them very realistic. I use them on timers in several rooms. Love the cozy feel it adds in the evening. Just the right touch when it’s time to relax.
    I’ve also added dimmers to some of the ceiling fixtures for that same reason. The dining room, kitchen table and entryway can be ablaze with task lighting or softly glow with ambiance, depending on my mood.

  15. Colleen says:

    My mother always had a small lamp in her kitchen that she would turn on after dinner. I always thought it was a nice idea, but I never incorporated it into my house. I think I need to!

  16. Dolores says:

    I use table lamps on my kitchen counters because I love the warm light – and I like them soo much better than the undercounter LED strip lights we tried, which cast a horrible glow!!

  17. Sherry says:

    I have a large bay window over my kitchen sink but no light so the entire area seemed dark. After an estimate from an electrician of $600.00 to put in lights above the sink I knew there had to be a less expensive way. My solution was a pair of matching buffet lamps in the window. They look great from the inside as well as outside at night. Problem solved for $40.00 at Kirkland’s.

    • Linda says:

      I am sorry to hear of the cost, did you try different bids at the time you were thinking of lights. I had the electrician come and do can lights and add a separate switch in the kitchen. Two yrs. prior he did our bathrm. remodel. He was very affordable. We have a small house , so I know size and what all is involved makes a difference.

  18. Kari says:

    I love lamps in the kitchen. I have had lamps in my built-ins near my dining table flanking the fireplace, but I love all of the photos of them near the sink and gracing the granite and marble counter tops! Adds warmth and reflective sparkle. So nice!

  19. Merri Ann says:

    I love the look and I will probably try it … only in a much safer location than next to the kitchen sink. I have visions of them falling in to a sink full of water and someone getting electrocuted. I like the idea of putting the light on a timer and adding a very low watt LED bulb. The lamp could be on most of the night with out much of an increase in utility bills. Thanks for another great idea!

  20. MarySue says:

    A few years ago, I added a lamp to our kitchen-to-family room pass-thru. It does add so much ambience to the kitchen! And I especially love having it there when we have guests or gatherings — we usually set out veggie trays and snacks on the pass-thru, and the lamp adds a lovely, homey glow!

  21. AlisonByDesign says:

    I love using lamps in kitchens, but I don’t think I’m comfortable with them next to a sink or the stove. Too much chance of water and grease spotting. Any place else is game tho!

  22. Linda says:

    I have had a lamp in my kitchen for yrs. It was a gift from a friend to thank me for caring for her mom. it is a silver sugar bowl with a handle on each side converted to a lamp. The shade is too short and it is hard to find the shade they used. and It does not work with a clip on to the bulb ( I tried). Thought I might try fringe one of these times to see how it looks. Because I have a very small kitchen it really goes well and I sit it on top of a cookbook. Thanks for the pictures.

  23. Sylvia says:

    I have used a small lamp on the top of my fridge for years. I got the lamp at the thrift store and have changed shades several times. The lamp is in the shape of a small white churn. It has those lovely blue geese on it (remember those?) but I cover the lamp with fabric or even paper to change cover the design. I just wrap the fabric/paper around the cylinder and … gasp… tape it.

  24. Kim says:

    I have always had lamps in the kitchen. I have a thing for lamps and love them everywhere. My mom has always used a lamp in the kitchen, too.

  25. Judy says:

    These look lovely! I’m curious: what brand of light bulbs did you use there? And what wattage? Really trying to figure out what’s wrong with the lighting in my home. Thank you!

  26. WendyBee says:

    I have seen lots of blogs featuring an accent lamp on the kitchen counter, presumably used like a nightlight, or a singular early morning light near a coffee station. I love the look, and have duplicated near my coffee pot, with a tiny lamp which only requires a nightlight bulb. I have so little room on my kitchen counters, it really is more efficient to use under-cabinet lighting.

  27. Jacquie says:

    Kristie, I love it that you have a “prop” room. I have one and my friends think I am nuts! I love changing my decor not only for holidays and seasons but also just because I get bored with the same look every day. Mine is more of a large closet but soon to be a room as soon as we finish our projects in our lower level. My sewing studio is there, so the small room close to it will become my prop room. Thanks for the mention of it…yes it is a vital necessity for all of us decorating addicts!

  28. Jen Y says:

    I’ve had lamps in my kitchen fo rmany years. We’ve lived here 24 yrs with only two lights – one over the sink & one in the center of the room. So I needed task lighting.

    We recently did a remodle adding lots of different kinds of lighting but I’ve noticed that I miss my lamps. Especially my grandmother’s lamp that I’ve had on my bar all these yrs. I really don’t need it anymore but I plan to keep it.

  29. Mary CC says:

    I actually have two small lamps on a very long bathroom counter similar to what was shown in the kitchen. I love the ambiance. The most important thing is safety and being sure you have GFI wall receptacles (ground fault interrupter) installed. This type of receptacle will provide a bit of safety from getting shocked due to accidental splashing of water on the lamps. Newer homes require these GFI’s in the kitchen and bath, but not all older homes have them. I have my lamps pushed as far away from any water source in the room and plugged into suitable receptacles just like Kristie’s example.

  30. JudeB says:

    I stumbled across the idea of a lamp in the kitchen purely by necessity – in having our extension built we planned all of the lighting and switches before going away on holiday, leaving the builders to get on with it. It wasn’t until we actually moved into the new downstairs bedroom that we realised that we’d neglected to put an on/off switch for the kitchen light at the extension end, thus leaving us to walk about 3 metres in the dark before being able to switch the light on – DISASTER – or at least it was until I hit on the idea of a lamp at the entrance to the kitchen, and oh boy, what a difference it makes to the ambience of the room, plus helping overcome what could have been a very expensive mistake involving lots of rewiring and mess.

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