Selecting the Right Lighting for Your Kitchen Island

One question we seem to get again and again is in regards to lighting over kitchen islands. How many pendants. What style works best. How big should they be. Every space is so different it is hard to respond to everything with one blanket answer.

But there are a few guidelines we like to follow when designing a kitchen with an island. When it comes to style and size of the actual light, keep in mind the size and style of your kitchen. The larger the kitchen and larger the island, the more freedom you have. If it is more of a confined space, you may be limited to pendants that don’t block sight lines or feel heavy.


In the Riverside kitchen below, we chose to go with two large statement pendants. We had freedom to do so because the scale of these pendants in in line with the scale of the room.

kateosbornephotography-34317The Hartford kitchen wasn’t as large but we were able to get away with two larger (for the space) lights because they are simple and don’t hang down too long. The simple glass and coloring doesn’t interfere or separate the space.


We chose to go with three small clear lights over the island in the Morgan Residence. We didn’t want the lighting to overwhelm the space or feel too heavy. The clear glass maintains an airy feel while anchoring and drawing subtle attention to the island.

A lot of confusion can also come with where and how high the lights should be hung over the island. We use a simple formula when centering and hanging these lights.

These are pretty universal rules of thumb among designers.




And what would all this information be without some good options?!

Here are a few pendants that would make great options for your island.

HOJ Island Pendant Lighting

1  /  2  / 3 – 30 inch & 16 inch  /  4  /  5  /  6

This post contains affiliate links.

13 Responses to Selecting the Right Lighting for Your Kitchen Island

  1. Kira Friday, January 8, 2016 at 6:28 am #

    Hello! Thanks for the great, informative post. I could not get the first 3 links to work and I love those pendants, would you mind letting me know where I can find them? Thanks!

    • Kirsten Krason Friday, January 8, 2016 at 8:50 am #

      Sorry about that! They are fixed now. They’re from Rejuvenation.

      • Kira Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 7:40 am #

        Thanks so much!!

  2. Kelly Monday, January 11, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    Love these!! I was wondering if you can mix finishes? We have bronze hardware in our kitchen for now. We’ll probably do a kitchen Reno in 10 years but should all lighting be bronze too? What about door knobs? Can we mix in silver?

    • Kirsten Krason Monday, January 11, 2016 at 11:32 am #

      Absolutely you can mix and match metals. It is actually a big trend right now.

  3. Jacqueline Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 7:40 am #

    My island is 12′ x 5′ (12″ overhang for bar seating) and have 3 pendants (similar to your #5 above) and am having a hard time deciding on placement length wise. I see your example above for the 3 pendants but wonder since my island is so long that that is would give too much space between the lights being the size that they are. We see 2 options. 1) 3′ at each end and then 3′ in between each pendant OR 2) 2′ on each end and 4′ in between each pendant. I need to tell the electrician today and not sure you can answer that quickly – hope so:)

    • Kirsten Krason Monday, January 18, 2016 at 10:03 am #

      Sorry we are just getting back to you. We would go with the 3 at 3′ option 🙂

  4. Jami Garrett Friday, August 26, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    Do pendants need to be centered over an island both length and width?

    • Kirsten Krason Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

      Yes pendant lights should be centered over the island both length and width 🙂

  5. Kelly Freeborn Monday, September 19, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    What program do you use for your drawings? Needing to do similar things for my clients.
    Thank you!

    • Kirsten Krason Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 11:18 am #

      We use AutoCAD and Photoshop 🙂

  6. Melanie Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:28 pm #

    Thanks for doing this post! At what point on the pendant should they be the specified width apart? My builder did 3 pendant fixtures over my island at 28″ apart at the fixture- so does that mean I should stick with super narrow pendants? I’m really loving the cone shaped style right now and I’m not sure I can do the mini guys.

    • Kirsten Krason Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 11:11 am #

      So sorry for our late response back. Without knowing the exact measurements of your island it is hard to tell you which pendants look best, we are sorry :/

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