Modern rustic kitchen lighting ideas – 13 characterful ways to illuminate your space

Create the perfect lighting scheme for a modern rustic kitchen with these stylish yet functional fittings

Modern rustic kitchen lighting ideas
(Image credit: Cohesively Curated, photograph Carina Skrobecki / Cave Interiors, photograph Paul Massey / Nicola Harding & Co / Plain English)

Lighting is an integral part of kitchen design. Being multi-functional spaces that often combine cooking and social areas, it’s important kitchens have a layered mix of task, accent and ambient lighting to satisfy their different uses. 

While functional lighting is paramount for any kitchen ideas, in the modern rustic kitchen, lighting often takes a more decorative role compared with other kitchen styles, with fixtures and fittings celebrated as design features in their own right. 

When it comes to creating the look, there are no strict design rules – the kitchen lighting options are truly endless which can be exciting but also daunting. To help with your project, we’ve rounded up an array of our favorites, from industrial pendants to burnished wall lights, alongside a collection of modern rustic lighting tips from interior designs. 

Create a beautiful modern rustic kitchen lighting scheme

The modern rustic look is less about following kitchen trends and more about creating an interior with character and charm that looks like it has evolved, however, there are some particular lighting trends worth noting. 

While sleek modern kitchens might make use of ceiling spotlights, integrated lighting and LED strip lighting to achieve a minimalist look, modern rustic kitchen lighting incorporates light fittings as part of the overall aesthetic. That’s not to say spotlights and strip lights can’t be included in a modern rustic space, these are just supplemented by additional, more decorative lighting ideas

'Just because the kitchen is a utility space, doesn't mean the functional parts can't be beautiful,' says Louise Copeland, founder of L.B. Copeland. 'When possible, I try to add visual interest to kitchens by eliminating recessed lighting and replacing it with surface-mounted fixtures, especially in older houses. That said, I am a huge fan of under-cabinet lighting since you can't see the fixture!'

Large pendants used for kitchen island lighting and wall lights with metallic finishes are proving a favorite with interior designers in modern rustic kitchens, while table lamps are also becoming increasingly popular. When choosing kitchen lighting materials, it is also important to consider designs in metals, ceramic and glass that nod to traditional and industrial designs also work particularly well. 

1. Add character with industrial designs

Modern rustic kitchen with drapers table and industrial pendant lighting

(Image credit: L.B.Copeland, photograph Adam Macchia)

Lighting can be more than just functional, it can tell a story, too. In this beautiful kitchen interior designer Louise Copeland, founder of L.B. Copeland, carefully chose lighting styles to pay homage to the history of the home, pairing large industrial pendants with nautical style designs to create a talking point. 

‘Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, this 19th-century residence was initially owned by a ship captain. Our discussions about the house's captivating history naturally influenced the design process. We incorporated the vintage navy-style lights to infuse the space with an authentic connection to its past, creating a design that resonates with the home's heritage,’ explains Louise. 

'We chose the brass/black industrial-style pendants above the draper’s table to create a striking contrast. Both the table and the house date from the 19th century, so we used these utilitarian pendants to intertwine the past with the present. The result is a casually elegant ambiance that honors the house's rich heritage and embraces modernity.' 

We further explore decorating with vintage and decorating with antiques in our dedicated features.

Louise Copeland headshot
Louise Copeland

Louise Copeland creates sophisticated and timeless interiors for modern living. Her career began in Jackson, WY, followed by pivotal years in New York City where she collaborated with renowned international fabric and furniture houses. This experience paved the way for a five-year tenure with the esteemed AD100 Designer Steven Gambrel. Louise went on to found her design firm L.B. Copeland Interior Design in San Francisco before relocating to NYC in 2017. Now based in North Carolina, she works on a wide array of residential projects across the US from Greenwich, CT to Miami, FL.

2. Inject a pop of color over an island

David Hunt Lighting Astrid pendants in Marmalade in a modern rustic kitchen with a green kitchen island

(Image credit: David Hunt Lighting Astrid pendants in Marmalade)

'Kitchen island ideas are a fantastic opportunity to add functional lighting as well as make a design statement,’ advises Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting. Indeed, being centrally located within the kitchen, islands offer a natural space to opt for a more sculptural light fitting – a functional piece that almost doubles as artwork. 

‘Consider the size and shape of your kitchen island and the head height available above your preparation area. I love to use multiples of the same design above an island, grouping three colorful pendants such as Astrid or Scallop in a row works wonderfully to add color and detail, whilst also zoning and delineating an open plan space,’ explains Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting.

'If you are lucky enough to have a large island for your modern rustic kitchen island ideas, consider having fun with color and creating an ombre effect with a palette of varying blues on four or five pendants.' Choosing a color that contrasts with your island paint color is another way to bring an element of fun.

We explore modern rustic color schemes in our dedicated feature.

3. Add warmth with brass fittings

Cream shaker kitchen with brass wall lights

(Image credit: Christie Lewis Interiors)

Light fittings in warm antique brass and mellowed gold finishes remain a hugely popular kitchen lighting trend – and for good reason. Not only will they bring instant warmth and a heritage feel to kitchens, they also work wonderfully in neutral and dark kitchens, which continue to be a kitchen trend for this year. If you’re thinking of metallic fittings for modern rustic kitchen lighting ideas, avoid anything ultra-shiny and think brushed finishes, which will complement the worn patinas elsewhere in the room.

‘Metals are used in interior design for reflective surfaces to bounce light back and forth. They add a touch of sheen and sparkle. I like to call them the "jewelry" of the room,’ says interior designer Christie Lewis founder of Christie Lewis Interiors

‘Like chromes and nickels, gold shares these benefits. But unlike its counterparts, gold adds instant depth and warmth to a space. It adds just a touch of modern glamour and elevates a room's aesthetic. Because gold has been around in art, fashion, and design for centuries, it adds timeless beauty.’

5. Keep spaces bright with discreet glass lighting

Wood kitchen with clear glass pendant lamps over the island

(Image credit: Rincon Rd Design Studio, photograph Gavin Carter)

When deciding on lighting, always take into account the other design features and architecture of the room. In this beautiful kitchen by Rincon Rd Design Studio, the use of kitchen ceiling lighting with discreet glass shades helps keep the space balanced, without taking away from the statement raw grain wood of the modern rustic kitchen cabinets, plus it helps keep sightlines clear.

'I decided to go with a minimal glass fixture with clean lines so that they almost disappeared into the space. I wanted to keep an open feeling and not block the views to the mountains out of the kitchen sink window,' says Melinda Trembly, founder of Rincon Rd Design Studio

'When designing a modern rustic space I draw a lot of inspiration from the outdoor surroundings. I love using natural materials, wood, stone, and metal; keeping the walls a soft white really lets these materials take center stage and creates a beautiful backdrop for vintage finds.'

More simple fittings can work well for small modern rustic kitchen ideas.

5. Don't be afraid to mix styles

Wood modern rustic kitchen with an crystal chandelier

(Image credit: Cave Interiors. photograph Paul Massey)

The beauty of a modern rustic lighting look is that there are no strict design rules – it’s a relaxed style where you can have fun mixing pieces from across the different eras to create playful contrasts, as done here by London-based interior designer Georgina Cave, creative director and founder of Cave Interiors. The focus is on individual characterful pieces rather than creating an 'on-trend' look.

‘Mixing the old with the new creates interiors that look like they have evolved naturally over the years. This is best achieved by combining new finds with family heirlooms or vintage finds and not overthinking it.’ says Georgina Cave. ‘I’ve had the chandelier for many years and loved that it added a touch of the unexpected to the more rustic style of the kitchen.’

7. Embrace rustic texture with woven pendants

Modern rustic kitchen with woven basket pendant lamps

(Image credit: Sarah Vanrenen, photograph)

Wicker and rattan furniture has been a huge trend in recent years, and increasingly we’re seeing it carry through to lighting design, too. Boasting beautiful texture, these oversized pendants work wonderfully with the aged materials throughout the space designed by Sarah Vanrenen; they also bring a nod to warmer climes which makes a lovely uplifting feel. Their open design means light can diffuse around the space rather than being concentrated over the kitchen island.

'This kitchen was built within an extension designed by Ptolemy Dean on a 15th-century Manor House. We thought that the scale of the basket pendant lights sat beautifully within the arches and beams, and it seemed fitting to use traditional materials such as wicker and bronze with the modern fittings,' says Sarah Vanrenen.

8. Add fun and versatility with articulated wall lights

Freestanding kitchen with pink wall

(Image credit: Interior Nicola Harding, kitchen Plain English)

Articulated or swing arm kitchen wall lights are wonderfully versatile, providing targeted task lighting, or accent lighting to highlight architectural features, they can also be angled to alter atmosphere and mood, too. 

In this beautiful space by Nicola Harding from Nicola Harding & Co., a series of articulated wall lights help illuminate the worksurface and counter area, but also add an element of fluidity and fun that Nicola sees as vital in creating spaces for living. 

'To create a sense of belonging and relationship between the house and the people who live there, we like to create a new narrative that feels natural and effortless. For this to work, we bring in the sense of mischief so that nothing feels too formal or stiff,' says Nicola.

9. Introduce grandeur with antique pieces

large kitchen with antique draper's table wood island

(Image credit: Kristin Mullen Interiors, photograph Nathan Schroder)

If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen with high ceilings why not make the most of the space with a large-scale pendant fitting? A master of decorating with antiques, here Kristin Mullen from Kristin Mullen Interiors has taken the opportunity to showcase a beautiful lantern reminiscent of stately homes and municipal buildings which brings a sense of heritage and grandeur to the space. 

‘The lantern was another wonderful antique find that anchors the space perfectly and complements the clean lines throughout the rest of the space,’ says Kristin.

Kristin Mullen headshot
Kristin Mullen

Based in Dallas, Texas, Kristin Mullen founded Kristin Mullen Designs in 2007 after renovating and decorating her own home sparked a passion for a new career. Working on projects across the US she aims to create timeless spaces that work in harmony with the architecture and her clients’ lifestyles. Her elegant style is influenced by her travels in Europe, England and Asia, and while it is rooted in classic design principles, she isn’t afraid to introduce modern elements and a touch of whimsy. 

10. Choose a bespoke design

Dark kitchen with large pendant pendant lamps with brass interior

(Image credit: Cohesively Curated, photograph Carina Skrobeckii)

Opting for bespoke or customizable lighting designs that elegantly combine different styles is a great way to bring balanced, timeless style to a space. Taking inspiration from industrial lighting, but teamed with shimmering brass and sleek verticals, these pendants are a beautiful fusion of luxe and antique style.

'We loved that these pendants had a bit of an industrial feeling to them and we were able to customize the finish to be two-tone so it tied into the cabinet color and also the brass hardware on the cabinets. The inside of the pendants are brass and it adds so much warmth to the space,' explains Emily Ruff, principal designer and founder of Cohesively Curated.

Emily Ruff
Emily Ruff

Cohesively Curated is a full-service design studio based in Seattle that seeks to marry interest and invitation with modern livability and a textural, eclectic aesthetic.  Emily is known for her discerning eye and ability to craft spaces that are equal parts comfort and conversation-starter. She specializes in new construction, full home renovations, kitchen and bath remodels, and full home furnishing projects. She most enjoys helping clients hone in on their personal style and educating them on materials and furnishings that are worth the investment. 

11. Embrace simplicity with a sleek contemporary light fittings

Freestanding wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Michael Rygaard)

Not all lighting in a modern rustic kitchen needs to lean towards the traditional, vintage or industrial – contemporary designs can work wonderfully, too, as this space proves. With its Venetian plaster walls and cabinets that team beautiful natural timber with simple, sleek silhouette, this kitchen is a wonderful expression of the modern rustic look. An elongated strip light hanging overhead makes an elegant design statement and mirrors the quiet simplicity of the space.

12. Create a cozy atmosphere with extra table lamps

traditional kitchen with colorful stripe blind and scallop edge pendant light

(Image credit: David Hunt Lighting)

The use of table lamps is a growing trend in kitchens and is a wonderful way to bring create a cozy ktichen feel. Not only do they radiate warm, ambient light, but they also offer the opportunity to introduce softness, color and pattern through fabric shades and painted bases.

‘People are recognizing the ease of change and instead of viewing lighting as a static and permanent choice, there is a movement towards embracing a more versatile approach to lighting; moving side lights and table lights around a space seasonally, changing lampshades and adding or removing lampshades to chandeliers to create an instantly different aesthetic,’ explains Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting. 'It’s vital to choose the right bulbs, look for an LED bulb with a warm, soft glow.'

13. Consider your shade material

Kitchen dining area with ceramic pendant lamps

(Image credit: Original BTC)

When choosing lighting be sure to consider the material of the shade. For dining areas within a kitchen, something that brings a subtle glow works well, helping to create a restful and inviting atmosphere.

'Materials are just as important as style when choosing lighting for your dining room. Bone china is an ideal choice, bringing a lovely softness of finish and a beautifully translucent glow. This soft light is ideal for creating an atmosphere that makes you feel instantly comfortable and relaxed,' says Charlie Bowles, director at Original BTC.


What kinds of lighting do you need in a kitchen?

When it comes to designing a kitchen, lighting is just as important as fundamentals like kitchen cabinets and layout and should be planned at the outset, especially if you’re undertaking a renovation or new build as appropriate wiring will need to be factored in. Kitchens require ample task lighting supplemented with accent and ambient lighting. 

'Kitchen lighting needs to be planned carefully, as well as being decorative, it needs to be functional providing lighting for a variety of tasks. Consider each area where you require task lighting, considering wall lighting, articulated wall lights, overhead and spotlights, layering in decorative and versatile table lamps and additional flexible light sources,’ says Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting.

'Whilst traditionally function was of utmost importance, these days there is ample choice for creating a dynamic kitchen lighting scheme to suit every home and every trend, from articulated wall lights, to mounted spotlights and statement pendants.’

What is the trend in kitchen lighting?

‘We are seeing a move away from kitchen lighting being regarded as purely functional, with lighting being embraced as a key decorative and layered element within a kitchen,’ explains Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting. ‘Color is being celebrated, from pretty blush pinks and bright oranges to greens and blues, kitchen pendants, wall lights and side lights are embracing bright hues.’

If you’re planning a kitchen, it’s a good ideas to research into the latest kitchen lighting trends, but equally, for a space that will stand the test of time which you’ll enjoy being in then it’s important to go with something you love that is high quality and functions well.

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is a contributor to Homes & Gardens. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.