Everyone wants their kitchen to shine bright like a diamond. After all, a stunning kitchen is a key selling point in most properties. It’s the hub of the home, and where people almost always end up gathering and chatting when you’re entertaining guests. But when it comes to illuminating your kitchen, complex lighting fixtures that rack up the “likes” on social media might not function so well in day-to-day life.

“Potential buyers like the look of the trendy and fancy light fixtures. They’re shiny, they’re pretty, and they look good on Instagram,” says Ed Deveau of Century 21 Mario Real Estate in Boston. “But for me, it just comes down to practicality.”

There are three common types of lighting for a room. Ambient lighting is the general lighting that brightens a room, whether it’s an oversized chandelier or track lighting installed in the ceiling. Accent lighting is the sconce or floodlight that gives light to a specific area, like the picture light over a piece of artwork. But it’s task lighting, or lighting that allows you to complete the necessary activities a kitchen was made for, that tends to be affected when a kitchen has overly delicate light fixtures that don’t function properly within the space. Think of the lighting you need as you read a recipe while preparing dinner, or while stirring a pot of sauce on the stove. 

“If you’re slicing an onion on a kitchen counter, having a trendy light fixture with 36 Edison-style lightbulbs at your back isn’t really doing you much good,” Deveau says. “So it’s fine to have them, but I would also suggest recessed lighting or under-cabinet lighting for everyday use.” 

In addition to impractical light fixtures not always serving their purpose, real estate agents tend to dislike unusual lamps or lights in the kitchen because prospective buyers may see these features as too daunting to fix when they eventually burn out. Anything that appears too delicate to deal with on a daily basis in a high-traffic area could discourage a buyer from putting in an offer.

“Several new homes have extremely modern light fixtures in a warm, cozy kitchen and no recessed lighting,” says Nashville-based real estate agent Zach Opheim. “This drives buyers crazy because yes, it looks cool, but you really don’t get the needed lighting you want for the entertaining hub of your home.”

If you’re looking to create a lighting scheme in your kitchen that real estate agents will look favorably on, Sarah Maguire of The Maguire Group suggests using two large, substantial pendants that are cohesive with the size of the island they’re hanging above, because it’s “all about scale and balance.” 

“One trend that’s a dead giveaway that the finishes are only ‘builder-grade’ are multiple small pendants over the island,” says Maguire. “They almost always look cheap.” Steering clear of impractical fixtures, whether they’re cheap or ostentatious, is a surefire way to stay in a real estate agent’s good graces.

Megan Johnson

Contributor

Megan Johnson is a reporter in Boston. She got her start at the Boston Herald, where commenters would leave sweet messages like “Megan Johnson is just awful.” Now, she’s a contributor to publications like People Magazine, Trulia and Architectural Digest.





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