An island is the centerpiece of your kitchen. Not only does it multifunctional (used for storage, prepping, baking, and even projects with your family), but it also plays a big part in the aesthetic appeal of the space. To maximize the use – and the look – of your kitchen island, lighting is a must. Lights illuminate the surface, making it easier to use, and drawing the eye to the structure. If you’re trying to decide what type of lighting to install over your kitchen island, pendant lights are an excellent option. Do you really need pendant lights for your island? Nope. But if you want to add some task lighting and add to the look of your kitchen, they’re definitely a great choice.

Pendant Lights vs Other Lighting Options

While there are several types of light fixtures you can install over your island, pendant lights are among the most popular. These suspended, single fixtures, hang from the ceiling – usually from a rod, a chain, or a cord – and can feature a single or multiple bulbs, provide task lighting, while also adding drama to the entire kitchen.

Some alternative lighting fixtures that you can hang over a kitchen island include:


Similar to pendant lights, as they’re mounted to and suspended from the ceiling, chandeliers feature branched structures that support several lights, and they tend to be more ornamental than pendant lights.

Pot Lights

Also known as high hats or recessed lights, a pot light is installed right into the ceiling so that the working mechanisms are hidden and the only components that are visible are the trim and the bulb. Pot lights cast concentrated light on the surface they are situated over.


This type of fixture is like a cross between a pendant and a pot light. It sits up against the ceiling like a recessed light and has a fixture that suspends the component that’s attached to the ceiling, similar to a pendant light, but they’re no space between the ceiling and the fixture itself.

While each type of lighting will illuminate the surface of your island, if you want to make the biggest visual impact, pendant lighting is definitely the way to go.

Pendant Light Styles, Colors, and Shapes for Kitchen Island

When it comes to pendant light styles, colors, and shapes, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Cylinders, lanterns, globes, urns, drums, and so much more; there’s an endless array of shapes to choose from. Color choices are endless, too; from fabric lamps shades and glass globes in a rainbow of colors to metals like bronze, brass, and stainless steel, different types of wood, and even sparkling crystal, no matter your taste or style, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find something that will speak to you.

While there are numerous types of pendant lights, here’s a look at some of the most popular styles that are commonly used over kitchen islands.

Modern and Industrial Kitchen Island Pendants

This style of pendant lighting, as the name suggests, fuses together modern and industrial flair. In other words, the lines are clean and simple, as you would expect in modern décor, while the elements have an industrial edge, such as different types of metals, piping, and glass. A pendant light with a brass light that suspense the fixture from the ceiling, a clear glass globe, and an Edison-style bulb, is just one example of a modern and industrial look.

Rustic and Farmhouse Pendant Lighting for Kitchen Island

Rustic and farmhouse-style is one of the most popular types of interior décor, and for good reason; it has an aged, yet welcoming, down-home feeling, while still looking well put together. Rustic and farmhouse island pendants can feature a range of elements, such as wood, glass, various types of metals, and even rope and fabrics, such as linen. A globe that mimics the look of a mason jar suspended from a solid brass bar, a bronze chain or a rope is a great example of a rustic, farmhouse island pendant lighting.

Glass Island Pendant Lights

As you’d assume, glass island pendants feature a glass globe or dome that’s suspended from a cord and chain or rope or a solid rod. The size, shape, and color of the globe or dome can vary widely; a small, bell-shaped globe in a dark cobalt blue, an oversized clear or frosted dome, or a mid-sized stained glass cylindrical-shaped dome that features a pattern of a variety of colors, for instance. Glass island pendants can feature other elements, too; for example, a globe may be wrapped with pieces of rope in an interesting pattern, or a cylindrical-shaped dome could be encased inside a metal frame.

Coastal and Nautical Pendant Kitchen Island Lights

If you love the beach or sailing and you want to bring a touch of the seaside into your kitchen, coastal and nautical pendant island lights are a great choice. The name of pendant lights in these styles is pretty self-explanatory. To help you visualize some of the different looks that you could find in these styles, a turquoise-blue glass globe that resembles beach glass and is accented with rope that resembles a fishing net, a metal pendant that resembles the look of an actual boat lamp, a metal caged-style pendant accented with shells, or even something as simple as a piece of hemp with boating knits that has an Edison-style bulb suspended directly from the end are just a few of the different types of coastal and nautical pendant lighting for kitchen islands that you can find.

Drum Pendant Kitchen Island Light Fixtures

If you’re looking for a simple, yet stately style for your kitchen island, a drum-style pendant light is a great choice. This type of pendant light features a shade that resembles the look of a drum and is suspended from a chain or rod. The drum is usually made of fabric, and there are a wide range of colors and sizes to choose from; they can also be solid-colored, or they can feature a pattern or design.

Multi-light Pendant Lights for Over a Kitchen Island

This type of pendant light features a single point that attaches to the ceiling and a collection of two or more elements are suspended from it; three rods of varying lengths with three different sized globes in the same or varying colors, for example. Multi-light pendant lights can add even more visual interest and lighting to your kitchen island.

Choosing The Best Pendant Light Size for Your Kitchen Island

Just like pendant lights come in a wide range of shapes, styles, colors, and materials, they also come in an assortment of sizes. A pendant light can be as small as a single light bulb suspended from a solid bar to as big as a car tire, or even larger. With so many different options, trying to determine which size pendant lights you should choose for your kitchen island can seem like a daunting task. Don’t get overwhelmed; take a deep breath and use the following tips to help you determine what size pendant lights will best fit your kitchen island and your specific needs.

The Amount of Lighting You Need

Ultimately, the size of the pendant light fixtures you choose really depends on how much light you need for your island, as well as your kitchen overall; for instance, if you need a lot of light over your kitchen island, opt for a larger pendant, and if you only need a bit of light, a smaller pendant would work.

Width, Length, and Height

In addition to the amount of light you need, you should also consider the width and height of the pendant, as well as the height of your ceiling and the length of your island. Measure the amount of space between your ceiling and the top of your island, as well as the length and width of your island.

Jot down the measurements and take them into consideration when you’re trying to decide what size pendant light to choose. Generally speaking, the longer and wider your island and the more space between the top of your island and your ceiling, the larger the pendant light fixture you can use.

If, however, your island is on the smaller size and there isn’t a great deal of space between your ceiling and the top of your island (the ceilings in your kitchen are low or you have a tall island, for example), you should go for smaller sized pendant lights, as you don’t want them to be to take up too much space and overwhelm your kitchen.

height and space

How High to Hang Pendant Lights over Island?

The recommended height range from your countertop to the bottom of the pendants is 30-36 inches.

To get a specific number, consider the height of your ceilings and of the tallest member in your family. An improper space will block everyone’s view of the whole room when standing next to the island. In other words, you can’t see over the counter.

For example, the shorter your ceiling height is, the space between the top of your counter to the pendants is closer to 30 inches. On the other hand, you should hang the pendants higher if your ceiling is above 8 feet. Also, check if the sight of the tallest person in your house is lower than the pendant; then, everyone can have good views across the kitchen.

In some particular cases, if your kitchen has an extremely low ceiling that is shorter than 8 feet, high hat lights and semi-flush-mount ceiling lights will be the best options.

However, it’s still possible to install pendant lights in such situations. All you need to do is:

  • Adjust the installation height range measurement. You don’t need to follow it since your ceiling doesn’t fit in. It means that you will hang the pendants lower than 30 inches.
  • Use open architecture pendants (or open lights) since it helps the kitchens look more relaxed, the ceiling look taller, and it doesn’t obstruct your view in such a low ceiling island.

How Many Pendant Lights Do I Need for a Kitchen Island?

It’s also a good idea to take the number of pendant lights that you want to install over your island into consideration. A single light would be ideal for a smaller kitchen with a smaller island and would create an elegant look, while if you have a larger kitchen with a larger island, a collection of pendant lights suspended from the ceiling would create a dramatic look.

Three lights of the same length and size would make a cohesive look, while three or four lights of varying sizes and suspended at alternating lengths would – in a pattern, alternating between larger lights hung lower and smaller lights hung higher, for example – would certainly add interest to the look of your kitchen and would provide your island with the amount of task lighting that you need to properly illuminate the tasks that you intend on doing at your island.

How Far Apart Should I Space Pendant Lights Over My Kitchen Island?

Lastly, when selecting the size of your kitchen island pendant lights, consider the distance that you want to hang them apart. The amount of distance between pendant lights depends, again, on the size of your kitchen, the size of your island, and how much lighting you need, as well as the number of fixtures you want to display. These factors, of course, will also help you determine what size pendant lights you should choose.

For instance, if you have a smaller island and want to hang a single fixture, you could get away with one larger pendant light, while if you have a larger island and you would like to install a collection of pendant lights, you could opt for three or four mid-sized fixtures, two larger fixtures, or a collection of fixtures in varying sizes; small and larger lights hung in an alternating pattern, for example.

Even or Odd Numbers

Contrary to what people think, you can totally set up an even number of lighting pendants. In fact, it doesn’t require an odd number of them to create accents or a sense of balance. However, choosing an even or odd number of bulbs will definitely affect where you should place them as well as the distance between them.

For the most accurate estimated number to spacing pendants over your island, simply follow the instructions below:

  1. Measure the length of your islands, divide it by the number of kitchen pendant lights you want plus one. The formula can be written as  island length / (number of pendants + 1) 
  2. The result implies the estimated distance between the center of a pendant to that of the one located next to it. It shows how far apart you should install a fixture from each other. If the result is smaller than your pendant light’s width, you should consider reducing the number of pendants.
  3. Determine the center position of your island: split the island horizontally and vertically into 2 parts. In other words, what you need to do is to divide its dimensions in half. This is so-called the installation location.
  4. Place the middle fixture right at the center point you’ve got (if you want odd number pendants). On the other hand, mount 2 middle pendants at equal spaces on either side from that center point for an even number of pendants.

Quick Reference

Besides, you can use the table below for a quick reference of the distance as well as the number of pendants to use for your island:

Island Length (feet) Island Length (inches) Space (inches) by Number of Pendants
2 Pendants 3 Pendants 4 Pendants 5 Pendants
3 36 12 9 7 6
4 48 16 12 10 8
5 60 20 15 12 10
6 72 24 18 14 12
7 84 28 21 16 14
8 96 32 24 20 16
9 108 36 27 22 18
10 120 40 30 24 20

Try calculating how many pendants and how much space between them for an 8-foot island.

Suppose you want to install 3 pendant lights over your 8-ft island, then estimate the spacing between each fixture is: 8/(3+1)=2 (feet). So you need to hang each pendant 2 feet (or 24 inches) apart and mount the middle one 4 feet from the edge.

But if you want 2 lighting fixtures only, the formula would become 8/(2+1)=2.67 (feet). So you need to hang each pendant 2.67 feet (or 32 inches) apart and at equal spaces from the center position.

Remember, this formula only gives off an estimated number. The exact distance varies depending on the pendant’s size itself and the island length.

Usually, a distance of 30-32 inches is suitable for most islands. And the minimum safe distance should be around 24 inches. Otherwise, it would not meet the pendants’ size and make all kitchens look cramped.


Kitchen Island pendant lights can add drama and interest to a ho-hum space and make it much more visually appealing and inviting; not to mention the fact that these lights will help to illuminate the surface of the structure and your entire kitchen. With the information provided above, you should be able to choose the best pendant lights for kitchen island that will tie into the look you want to create for your kitchen and that will help to improve the function and usability of the space.

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