Kitchen Island Lighting – Pendants & Fixtures

Follow these easy-to-follow tips to add pendants & fixtures for kitchen islands


Pendants & Fixtures

A lot of household tasks are accomplished around the kitchen island. It’s the perfect spot for preparing dinner, eating, and even sipping your morning brew. So it’s essential to find kitchen island lighting that not only complements a space but also provides enough illumination to complete everyday cooking tasks.

If you’re in the market for new kitchen island lighting, explore this style guide to learn about the following:

  • Finding the perfect kitchen island lighting

          o    Best pendant lighting for kitchen islands
          o    Top chandelier kitchen island styles
          o    Popular recessed lighting kitchen island styles

  • Three-light kitchen island pendants
  • Five-light kitchen island pendants
  • How high should I mount kitchen island lighting?
  • How to find the right size kitchen island lighting
  • How to adjust kitchen island lighting lower
  • How to adjust kitchen island lighting higher

Finding the Perfect Kitchen Island Lighting

The best memories are made in the kitchen. Whether you’re preparing meals, talking to your guests, or helping your kids with homework, your daily routine often centers around the kitchen island. So you should light this space with style and practicality in mind.

With dozens of style and design options to choose from, finding the perfect light fixture can seem daunting. But with the right eye for design and help from our style guide, you’re one step closer. First, let’s talk about the best kitchen island lighting styles for savvy home decorators: pendants, chandeliers, or recessed lights.

Best Pendant Lighting for Kitchen Islands

Pendant lights have become an increasingly popular type of hanging light fixture for kitchen islands. They are suspended from the ceiling with a single bulb and are perfect for providing direct task lighting.

To help you choose, below we explore different kitchen island pendant lighting ideas.

If you’re looking for old warm charm, traditional pendant lights are the way to go. Linear pendants and lantern pendants can add sophistication and elegance to your kitchen island. Rustic pendants or farmhouse lighting are also popular options. These pendants complement countryside decor and farmhouse chic appeal.

If you’re looking for modern kitchen island lighting, contemporary pendant lights are a good option. For example, modern pendants and industrial pendants use minimalist features and metallic finishes for a more sophisticated look. Modern pendants come in silver tones with sleek designs. Industrial pendants come in dark finishes and create a more rugged aesthetic.

Gold pendant lights for kitchen islands are stylish alternatives. They offer a mid-century modern look.

You might consider clear glass pendant lights if you like vintage charm. These fixtures are great at opening up smaller spaces and provide both task and ambient lighting. Glass pendant lights also come in various colors. Blue pendant lights are perfect for coastal themed kitchen islands, green pendant lights add earthy tones, and orange pendant lights accent vibrant kitchen islands.

Lastly, transitional style pendant lights let you combine elements of both traditional and modern lighting to create a more personalized look. In smaller spaces, mini pendant lights might be the perfect choice. You can install a single mini pendant or several in a row above a kitchen island for task and accent lighting.

Top Chandelier Kitchen Island Styles

A chandelier can add glamour and elegance to your kitchen island. What better way to make a grand gesture than with a statement chandelier? But with so many styles to choose from, it can be challenging to find the right one.

Chandeliers can be the perfect lighting accessory no matter the style of the home. They add texture and shape to a space that is made up of clean lines and hard surfaces. Even if your kitchen is modern, adding some old-world charm can give the space character.

Keep in mind that chandeliers tend to fit better in large kitchens with high ceilings. For example, linear chandeliers are perfect for oversized kitchens that need task lighting. They are multi-light fixtures that are usually rectangular or elongated.

Due to their overpowering nature, we don’t recommend pairing a linear chandelier with pendant lighting. However, you could pair a linear chandelier with recessed lights.

The wrought iron chandelier is another popular option. Wrought iron chandeliers are stylistically versatile and timeless. They can add a “Game of Thrones” rustic feel to your home. A pair of crystal or glass chandeliers adds statement style above large kitchen islands. They are usually larger than pendant lights and can provide enough lighting over your kitchen island.

For high ceilings, consider adding an oversized chandelier. Rectangular chandeliers or multi-light chandeliers can create timeless charm above any kitchen island.

Popular Recessed Kitchen Island Lighting Styles

Recessed lights are perfect for those wanting clear space above their kitchen islands. These lighting fixtures are a popular alternative if you have a low ceiling or just don’t want anything hanging over your island.

Recessed lighting, or can lights, are small, round lights that can be installed into the ceiling. These lights are typically 4–6" in diameter and shine downward. They can provide just enough task lighting without being too overwhelming.

From contemporary LEDs to vintage-inspired fixtures, we offer decorative recessed lighting in a wide variety of styles and adjustable dimmers. Consider adding lighting strips or recessed lighting covers with reflector trims to maximize your kitchen’s overall illumination. Do you have sloped ceilings? Browse our collection of recessed lights that can be installed on sloped ceilings.   

No matter what you choose, it’s good to think of ways to layer your lighting. Recessed lights above pendants can help showcase the pendants’ glamorous features. The recessed lights then function as accent lighting to your primary fixtures.

Three-Light Kitchen Island Pendants

Multi-light pendants provide ambient lighting with three or more light sources coming from the same fixture. Multi-light pendants can also be used as a chandelier alternative. Choosing the right light fixture can also help turn an average space into an elegant one.

Three-light kitchen island pendants are a great way to boost your room’s lighting and style. First off, three-light kitchen island pendants offer both form and function. You can go with clear glass or choose a shade that blends with your kitchen décor. A shade covers the lightbulbs on a pendant fixture to diffuse the light it emits. There are several shades to choose from, including white, taupe, tan, and sand. Any of these neutrals could add sophistication to your kitchen island.

Next, look for 3-light kitchen pendants that match the existing metal hardware in your kitchen. Bronze, oil-rubbed bronze, brass, satin nickel, and chrome finishes are great options. You can also add a touch of elegance with crystal accents. Crystal works with several hardware finishes like gold, silver, and bronze.

Five-Light Kitchen Island Pendants

Adding a multi-light pendant to your existing decor can seem tricky with so many options out there. Five-light kitchen island pendants work well for helping spread light across a large kitchen island area. When done right, these pendants can enhance ambiance while providing effective task lighting.

First, you should consider what type of color, style, and finish you’re looking for. Pendant light shades come in glass, fabric, and metal. Metal shades are perfect for kitchens with an industrial motif. Five-light kitchen island pendants made of glass or chrome can evoke a sleek modern style. Fixtures with woven shades, on the other hand, go well with boho or coastal styles.

When hung over an island, five-light kitchen pendants provide elegance and make a design statement. It’s important to consider whether you want your shade pointing up or down. Pendant lights with shades pointing up provide ambient light while those with shades pointing down provide task light. Downlighting is usually best for kitchen islands.

Shop Now 16-Light matte black island chandelier by Z-Lite's Barclay collection at Bellacor

How High Should I Mount Kitchen Island Lighting?

Once you’ve settled on the perfect light fixture, it’s important to know where to mount it. The last thing you want is a fixture that is hung too low or high. The rule of thumb is to give at least 30 inches of clearance between the bottom of the lighting fixture and the kitchen island. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to this rule.

For instance, the scale of your kitchen island lighting and the amount of illumination needed make a difference. We recommend hanging smaller lights closer to the island and hanging bigger fixtures higher.

Similarly, hang your lights a couple inches higher if you or your guests are taller than the average person. You don’t want anyone to bump into your kitchen island lighting. Lastly, we recommend installing lights 33 to 36 inches above the kitchen island if it has a cooktop.

Keep reading to learn size and height guidelines for pendants, chandeliers, and recessed lighting below.

How to Find the Right Size Kitchen Island Lighting

Choosing the right size light fixture is important for creating balance in your kitchen design. Picking light fixtures that are too big can mess with your overall décor aesthetic. Picking ones that are too small means you may not light up the room properly. Pendants, chandeliers, and recessed lights have slightly different measurement guidelines, so we explain each below.

First, it’s important to determine the appropriate scale of your lighting fixture. Start by measuring the length and width of the top of your kitchen island.

For chandeliers, we recommend that the width or diameter of your fixture be between one half and two thirds of the width of the kitchen island. (Check out our Chandelier Size Guide and Chandelier Height Guide for more details on placing these light fixtures.)

Determining the scale of pendant lights is slightly different. First, measure the width of the kitchen island in inches and then subtract 12 from that number. Your answer is the maximum width or diameter of your pendant light in inches.

Keep in mind that pendants and chandeliers should hang no lower than 30 to 36 inches above the kitchen island and at least 72 inches from the floor.

Diagram to display placement of pendants, chandeliers & recessed lighting above your kitchen island

Kitchen Island Lighting Placement

Make sure to also properly space your light fixtures if you’re adding more than one pendant or chandelier. We recommend placing two fixtures 30 inches apart. If you have three or more, tighten the placement of your light fixtures to illuminate the full length of the kitchen island. Make sure to measure from bulb to bulb for proper spacing.  

For recessed lights, use one light for every four to six square feet of ceiling space. A good rule for placement is to divide the height of the ceiling by two. For example, space recessed lights about four feet apart for eight-foot ceilings.

Finally, a good rule of thumb is to group light fixtures by threes to give your space balance. However, this isn’t a binding rule. What looks best depends on the size and style of lights you’ve chosen and the scale of your kitchen island.

How to Adjust Kitchen Island Lighting Lower

Some chandeliers and pendant lights come with extension rods or chains to adjust hanging height. Make sure that your light fixture doesn’t block the view of people seated at your island or hang low enough for someone to bump into.  

Follow the steps for lengthening light fixtures:

  1. Turn off your circuit breaker before messing with any wiring.
  2. Attach one end of the extra wire to the end of the lighting fixture’s chain.
  3. Secure the two ends together with pliers after you’ve achieved your desired length.
  4. Then lift the lighting fixture and connect the chain you added to the one on the ceiling before closing the link with pliers.

How to Adjust Kitchen Island Lighting Higher

You can make adjustments to raise a light fixture if it’s hanging too low. Follow the steps below to adjust your chain higher:

  1. Turn the power off at your home’s electrical panel before measuring, from the ceiling down to the kitchen island, where you want your light fixture to hang. Then measure the fixture’s cord and chain to calculate how many links in the chain you should remove.
  2. Find the split or joint on the chain link that you want to get rid of. The joint is usually in the middle along one side of the link. Then hold half of the link with a pair of pliers and use a second pair to twist the other half and separate the link at the joint. Remove the unwanted chain piece.
  3. Leave the light fixture cord about 12 to 24 inches longer than the shortened chain so you have enough to weave through the links in the chain.
  4. Following the manufacturer’s directions, complete the necessary wiring connections to the fixture and the circuit cable in the electrical box.
  5. Secure the light fixture canopy to the electrical box in the ceiling and connect the fixture to the hanging loop on the canopy.

Bellacor has been a leading kitchen island lighting retailer since 2000. We offer top-of-the-line products to fit any style and budget.

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