my new kitchen: pendant lighting

For weeks, we searched high and low for lights to go above the new island. They needed to be cheap and sturdy, provide clean light (I was sick of the yellow-green glow from our old hanging lamp), and probably made from something aluminum-ish, to go with the fridge and stove. I scoured the internet, poked my head into stores, discussed options with my husband, and asked around. Nothing.

And then one day I’d decided I’d had enough of the whole thing and off we went to town, me and my husband. We went to all the stores and looked at all the lamps. And then, in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, my husband jokingly picked up a metal dog dish and flipped it upside down. “I could make one,” he said.

“Yeah right,” I said. “That’s not nearly deep enough. The bulb would stick out.”

A minute later he resurfaced brandishing a colander. “How about this?”

And then, my brain slowly shifting gears, I spied some metal mixing bowls. “Or these?” Suddenly the options seemed endless.

We bought both a colander and a metal mixing bowl and, back home, we decided we liked the colander best — with directional lighting, there’d be no bright glare daggering our eyeballs through the colander holes — and my husband mockwired it. It seemed okay, so he went ahead and cut a hole in the bottom. If it didn’t work out, we’d only wasted fifteen bucks.

He sanded down the shiny stainless steel on the inside to reduce glare. We debated cutting off the handles, but then decided against it — if you’re going to use colanders as hanging lights, you might as well go all the way. (Our younger daughter suggested I dry my homemade pasta from the handles.)

Once we were sure we liked it, he bought a second one, wired them both, and that was it — our island had lights!

I’m still not entirely satisfied — the light feels a little too bright, and it doesn’t quite reach to cover all of the island’s surface (we might have to install a dimmer switch or experiment with different kinds of bulbs) — but for now it’s plenty good enough.

Besides, the fact that we’re using colanders as lights delights me to no end.

What a hoot!

This same time, years previous: the Baer Family Gathering of 2019, today, the quotidian (1.9.17), how we kicked off 2016, what it means, date nut bread, between two worlds, buckwheat apple pancakes, candied peanuts.


  • beckster

    This was a fantastic idea, and I am really impressed at the creativity! I love them. I bet you could sell these if you wanted. They have a lot of kitsch, in a great way. I would hang them in my kitchen. What I want to know is what you used for the rods that drop them down from the ceiling. Can you tell I am not that creative?

  • Mama Pea

    Brilliant (no pun intended) idea! Some big company is going to copy your idea and start marketing kitchen lights with the "colander" design.

  • JAG

    Such a great idea, and such fun! If you raise the height a little bit you might be able to both disperse the light over more of the counter and lessen the intensity on the surface below?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yeah, we tried that but then it looked too disjointed so high above the table. (We also considered three lamps, but that made it feel like a hanging wall.) I really think it's probably the bulbs….

  • Becky

    I love it! Very industrial, hip and totally original! I have a few old colanders I use as hanging planters outside, I've never thought to use them as lampshades!

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