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There are a lot of things you shouldn’t attempt to do in the dark, cooking being one of them. Fortunately, kitchen lighting has come a long way from standard recessed cans. Now you can add LED strips under upper cabinets, display giant dome pendants over the island, and set everything on a dimmer. The issue is that all of these updates require you to call an electrician, which can be costly and prolong your timeline. But there is one exception: table lamps.

Just because you’re accustomed to seeing them in the living room or on a nightstand doesn’t mean one can’t live on your countertop next to your coffee machine or up high on an open shelf. While the placement is unexpected, these types of fixtures can make a kitchen feel so much homier—and it gets you out of paying a professional to rip open your ceiling. Read on for a few bright examples and our picks to get the look. 

Create a Reading Zone

Photography by Reid Rolls; Styling by Colin King; Design by Marie Trohman and Ashley Drost of Proem Studio

Don’t shove your lamp in the corner, where it will serve little purpose. Keep it closer to the cooktop or wherever you store your cookbooks. A double-pull chain makes it supereasy to switch it on and off.

Plug It on the Island

There are no supersize dome pendants hanging over Athena Calderone’s Amagansett, New York, island, but a lamp with an exaggerated wicker shade makes up for the drama. Turn to this solution when all your ceiling fixtures are along the perimeter of the room. 

Carve Out a Cozy Corner

Treasured cutting boards, greenery, little trivets, and a patterned lamp bring this otherwise wasted nook to life. 

Brighten Up a Tiny Space

white apartment kitchen

Even in the tiniest of kitchens, there is always room for a table lamp. New York City dweller Anna Page brought her small space to life with a ceramic fixture, artful utensil vessel, and a painting mounted via Command strips.

If you don’t have a spare lamp on hand to dedicate to your cooking space, then consider snagging one of the solid options, below.

Shop the Look

simple metal lamp

Lamp with Tripod Base, Zara Home ($109)

Floating marble shelves, a plastered vent hood, hardware-less cabinets—this metal tripod lamp will fit right in with all the makings of a minimalist kitchen. 

green marble lamp

Mercury Green Marble Table Lamp, CB2 ($300)

So you can’t splurge on green marble countertops? This galactic-looking vase created by New York–based designer Farrah Sit is the next best thing. 

pink lamp

Pink Terrazzo Kids Table Lamp, Crate & Kids ($119)

Fulfill your dreams of having terrazzo counters by bringing in this speckled stone piece, also available in white and dark blue.

Lighting photo

Parasol Table Lamp by Celerie Kemble for Arteriors, Lumens ($1,015)

Channel Calderone’s beachy-organic vibes with a similar rattan piece. The scallop-edge detail along the handwoven shade will lend a sense of playfulness to any cookie-cutter space.  

Lighting photo
Alien Table Lamp, In Common With ($1,250)

Stranger things have happened than putting a lamp in the kitchen, and this outer space–inspired piece (the top is meant to look like a hovering UFO) is a reminder.

ceramic lamp

Rebekah Miles Green Floral Table Lamp, Nickey Kehoe ($1,800)

A large kitchen needs not one but two table lamps, like this pair that’s hand-painted by Ojai, California–based artist Rebekah Miles. Place one at each end of the island à la Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent. 

Lighting photo
Rice Wine Vessel Table Lamp, RH ($625)

Once used to store rice wine, this vessel—now topped with a sloped linen shade—is a fitting choice for the room.