Smart planning is the key to installing supremely functional and visually delectable kitchen island lighting.

1. Review Lighting Location & Purpose

Modern pendant lights, suspended over a kitchen island or bar, are almost always a winning design element—and instant kitchen focal point. When deciding on kitchen island lighting, though, the key is to focus on two primary elements:

PLACE AND PURPOSE OF LIGHTING INSTALLATION: Pendant lights for a kitchen island, where food preparation is the main event, may fundamentally differ from pendant lights hung above a kitchen bar, where ambiance may be more of a consideration. Be clear about the main purpose of the kitchen area you're illuminating, and what type of lighting best suits its primary purpose.

KITCHEN ISLAND'S RELATIONSHIP TO REST OF KITCHEN: Get a clear sense for how island lighting fits into the larger kitchen interior scheme, as well how it balances the other lighting elements in the space. Having a clear sense of what you expect from your pendant light arrangement, whether practical or esthetic, will inform the final result, and, ultimately, yield a more satisfying outcome.


2. Take 3 Key Measurements

MEASURE DIMENSIONS OF ISLAND OR COUNTERTOP: The size of the kitchen island, bar or countertop will determine the ideal number and optimal size of the pendants in the installation. So, getting accurate measurements of both the length and width of the surface area is the logical starting point. With these dimensions in hand, some lighting designs will automatically be eliminated, and others will join the range of contenders.

MEASURE HEIGHT BETWEEN ISLAND SURFACE AND PENDANT: Pendant lights should be hung at a height that doesn't block the view across the island or bar, while also providing illumination appropriate for the area's main function—whether task-related or aesthetic. Typically, 30 to 36 inches above island or bar surface is a safe distance. Measure from the bottom of the light fixture to the surface area below.

MEASURE DISTANCE BETWEEN EACH PENDANT LIGHT: Depending on how large the island or countertop, more than one kitchen pendant light is standard. If so, a general rule of thumb is to leave about 30 inches between light fixtures. This helps produce a more balanced visual composition, but also disperses light evenly across the entire surface below.



Having the right amount of light for food preparation, cooking, and cleaning is obviously important. But not all tasks and occasions demand the same amount of light. Lamps that can be adjusted for brightness are essential to creating the kind of ambiance that makes the kitchen an inviting place for both family and friends. When shopping for kitchen island lighting, remember that lamps outfitted with dimmer switches are crucial to allowing you control over the lighting installation—and the atmosphere of the kitchen.

3. Decide on Optimal Number of Lights

The optimal number of pendant lights in a kitchen island installation is largely contingent upon two things: the size of the illuminated surface below, and the overall esthetics you're after. Given size, and that around 30 inches should separate each light, a fewer number of large pendants—like the handcrafted Swirl Pendant by LZF—or a larger number of small pendants—the Mater Terho Pendant comes in a range of sizes—may be equally effective. What's key here is that the arrangement be well proportioned and visually unified, and that the light distributed is appropriate for the primary function of the surface its illuminating.


4. Select Pendant Style & Size

Once you've finalized dimensions and overall scheme, the fun part begins. Whether your style is Mid Century, minimalism, or industrial, there's an ideal modern pendant light waiting to enhance your kitchen scheme and help create a visually inspiring focal point. We love Anglepoise's industrial-meets-sophisticated Type 80 Pendant, above, an ideal complement to dark tones and brass hardware. The Norman Pendant by Visual Comfort & Co injects industrial elegance into both casual and formal kitchen settings, while the sculptural Link Pendant makes a stunning case for organic kitchen lighting.