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7 Great Kitchen Island Lighting Ideas

March 26, 2024
Lighting Expert, @lightsdotcom

The kitchen island is one of the most versatile spaces in the home. It can be used for a whole variety of activities – cooking prep, homework, morning coffee with the paper. In order to make sure that your kitchen island works for you, install lighting that simultaneously accommodates diverse tasks and provides the hub of your home with a bit of style.

This isn’t as daunting as it seems! Below we share seven kitchen island lighting ideas and a bit of general kitchen lighting advice to help you map out your lighting plan and get the look you’re after.

1. The Kitchen Island Rule of 3

If you conducted a “kitchen island lighting ideas” survey among lots of interior designers, the odds are, the most common response would be the rule of three. The use of three pendants in a row to light up the island has been a gold standard in kitchen design. While the number may seem arbitrary, this arrangement not only provides adequate illumination when sized correctly, but it also creates a soft, visual balance.

Hot Tips:

  • The type of pendant you choose for the kitchen is largely dependent on the size of the island. Select a pendant that, when featured in three, occupies the length of the island, leaving about 20" - 36” of space in between each pendant, and 10"- 18" in from the outside edges of the island.
  • If you’re looking for lighting ideas for above the kitchen sink, consider purchasing four pendants – three for the island and one for above the sink basin.
  • Don’t let the pendants block your sight. To make sure you’ve got a clear view, suspend pendants either 72” from the floor or 30-36” above the island’s countertop.
Powell LED 7" Matte Black Globe Pendant
Bergen Bell Pendant in Matte Black

2. Breaking the Rules

As with most trend rules, the rule of three can be easily broken. More and more you’ll see designers lighting kitchen islands by opting for two large pendants instead of three smaller ones. Two larger pendants will give you the opportunity to make a bit of a statement.

3. Really Breaking the Rules

If you’re really going for kitchen rule-breaking, toss the idea of 2 and 3 pendants out the window and really go for it. Strategically suspending multi-light pendants above the island gives a magical cluster effect while providing necessary lighting for all your kitchen tasks.

4. Lighting with Multiple Multi-Pendant Fixtures

Multi-pendant lights are a great way to mix and match the rules. For a look that is balanced yet different, combine the multi-pendant fixture and the rule of two to uniquely illuminate the kitchen island.

5. Go the Distance

A simple, elegant way to illuminate a kitchen island is to select a single, long fixture, or linear suspension, that runs the length of the island. It’s both minimal and effortless.

Castell Collection
Castell 6 Globe Linear Chandelier in Matte Black

6. Let the Kitchen Be the Star

If you’d like the kitchen island to do all the talking, consider lighting the island with hidden, yet powerful recessed lighting. If you light the kitchen with recessed lighting alone, it is especially important that you install a dimmer. This will make up for the lack in texture and will give you versatile lighting for all tasks and moods.

7. Who Doesn’t Love a Good Chandelier?

While a chandelier in the kitchen is not the most common kitchen island lighting idea, it can certainly pack a visual punch.

Depending on the size of the island, of course, you may be able to get away with only hanging a single chandelier. If this is one of the lighting ideas that appeals to you, look for a chandelier that branches outward. The more horizontal ground it covers, the more you’ll evenly illuminate the kitchen island space.

These are only a few kitchen island lighting ideas. Whether you opt for small or large, two or three, or none-of the-above, if you have a bit of fun with your pendant selection and follow the general rules of height and spacing, you’ll have lighting that showcases your style and makes the home’s hub that much more inviting.

Q&A: Submit your question

All questions are answered within 24 hours.

  • What do you recommend for a 12 foot island?

    For a 12 foot island, it's nice to space three larger pendants out with about 24-36" in between them. For something more traditional, the Anover or Luca pendants are great and come in three sizes to suit your needs. For something more modern, the Powell or Castell globe pendants look chic and also come in a variety of sizes. I would recommend three of the Luca Medium Pendants, or three of our Powell LED 14" Pendants.

  • Which lights would you suggest especially if you're cooking a lot in your kitchen, and greasy air starts to accumulate.

    If you've noticed a lot of oil building up in your kitchen, I'd recommend staying away from fabric shades and delicate finishes. If it works with your decor- matte black and clear glass are going to be the most durable finishes for cleaning. You might also want to check with your handymand or appliance specialist and see if there are settings with your range hood that could help alleviate the oil problem.