A kitchen island often serves as the heart of the home, and pendant lights over the kitchen island add extra illumination to this important spot. Once you’ve decided to hang pendant lights over your kitchen island, how do you make sure they look their best? Here are some stylish design tips for kitchen island pendant lights.
How many pendant lights should you hang over a kitchen island?
This depends entirely on the size of the island. At the small end of the scale, a modest kitchen island may measure 24″ by 36″, while an expansive kitchen may have an island up to 10′ in length! The size of the pendants is also a factor. Three 12″ diameter pendant shades might look crowded, but three 6″ diameter mini pendants would look perfect.
If your island is at least 48″ long, we recommend two or more pendants. This will provide even light along the whole length of the island. For islands over six feet, three pendants should fill the space and look fantastic. Don’t be afraid to choose one long fixture, however, or to hang a dramatic cluster of many mini pendant lights. Four to six small pendant lights placed close together across an island make a dramatic design feature. If your island is square-shaped, four pendant lights over the corners will spread light evenly over the surface.
How far apart should you hang pendant lights over a kitchen island?
There are many approaches to spacing pendant lights above a kitchen island. Obviously, if you’re hanging one pendant above the island, it’s simplest to place it directly above the island’s center point. You have more options when hanging two, three, or even more pendant lights.
Our favorite method for spacing pendant lights goes like this. First, decide how many lights you plan to hang above your kitchen island. Then divide the island into that many equal sections. For example, if you’re going to hang two pendants above the island, divide the island in half. For three pendants, divide it into thirds. Then center each fixture above its section. We’ve included a diagram for the visual learners.
Naturally, you can use unconventional spacing for your pendants if this appeals to your sense of style. You might cluster them asymmetrically toward one side of the island or create a circle of light over a square island. Just remember, the more unusual you get, the more attention your lights will attract. Decide if you’re trying to make a statement, or if you’d like a more subtle effect.
We also suggest that you make sure there’s 12″-18″ clearance from either end of the island. This will help tall people avoid hitting their heads on the light fixtures.
How high should you hang kitchen island pendant lights?
The consensus among designers is that pendant lights should hang 30″ to 40″ above the island surface. Keep in mind that kitchen islands are usually 36″-42″ high. The pendants should hang high enough that they don’t obstruct views across the kitchen, pose a hazard for tall people, or shine directly in your eyes when you’re working or sitting at the island. They should be low enough, however, that they cast bright, direct light onto the island workspace.
Should pendant lights all hang at the same height? That depends on the look you’re going for. Usually, pendant lights hang in a straight line across a kitchen island, all an equal distance from the ceiling. Staggering the heights, so some hang lower and some hang higher, draws attention to the fixtures. This is a dramatic effect, especially with many small pendants.
Other tips for pendant lights above kitchen islands
Consider installing a dimmer switch on kitchen island pendants, especially if kids sometimes use the island for homework. They need brighter light, while you might prefer a gentler glow when eating at island bar seating. Retractable hanging lights are another great option for multitasking islands. Lower them or raise them as needed.
Whether you choose large pendants or small ones, industrial shades or art glass styles, contractor installation or DIY, the way you design your kitchen pendant lighting will transform the space. Check out more island pendant light ideas on our Pinterest board.
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