The Complete Guide to Kitchen Island Lighting Design

With so many lighting options to choose from, selecting the right lighting for your kitchen may be overwhelming. There are many choices for kitchen lighting, including different styles, shapes, lengths, and functionality.

In this article, we will share lighting over kitchen island ideas and everything else you need to know so you can choose the best option for your home.

round glass pendants installed over a kitchen island

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Important Questions About Kitchen Lighting

When it comes to home improvement, lighting fixtures are a great way to improve the design of your kitchen. There are so many factors that go into choosing the right lighting for your kitchen island.

In this section, we will address common questions so you can feel confident when picking the right modern kitchen island lighting for your kitchen. The kitchen island is often considered the heart of the home so let’s create a design you love!

Related: Top Florida Kitchen Interior Design Trends

What kind of light goes over the kitchen island?

There are a few different types of light that can be hung over a kitchen island. Pendants and chandeliers are two popular types of light fixtures that can be used over a kitchen island.

Pendants are usually smaller in size, while chandeliers are larger and more formal. The kind of lighting you choose will depend on the style you want to go for.

How do you light a kitchen island?

The best way to light a kitchen island is to place a light over it. There are different lighting fixtures styles and types we will go over in a later section. Some options we will cover are;

  • Pendant lighting
  • Flush or semi-flush mount lighting
  • Linear chandeliers
  • Eat-in kitchen lighting
  • Recessed lighting
  • and under cabinet lighting

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How big should a light fixture be over an island?

When choosing the size, you want to select a light fixture that is big enough to light up the entire island but not so big that it takes up too much space.

The size of the fixtures will depend on the size of the island. For example, you can choose to have one linear chandelier or several pendant lights that run across the island.

Do you have to put pendant lights over an island?

No, you don’t have to put pendant lights over an island, but they can be beautiful and add much functionality to the space.

For example, pendant lights can help make the kitchen island a focal point in the room and provide light for tasks like cooking or chopping.

Similarly, some great alternatives are linear chandeliers or flush mount lighting. You can also choose recessed lighting. However, this option is mainly used for functionality rather than decoration.

How many lights should be over a kitchen island?

There is no one definitive answer to this question, as the number of lights needed over a kitchen island will vary depending on the size and layout of the space. However, it is generally recommended to have between two and four pendants or chandeliers hanging over an island.

How many lights should go over an 8 ft island, a 6 ft island, and a 5 ft island?

The amount of lights that go over the kitchen island does not only depend on the size of the island but also on the size of the light itself.

  • For an 8 ft kitchen island, you can use two larger pendants, three smaller lights, or one large linear chandelier.
  • For a 6 ft island, you can do two lights that are 3 feet apart.
  • For a 5 ft island, you can choose two smaller pendant lights or one linear chandelier.
modern farmhouse kitchen design with three pendants over kitchen island

Analyzing Your Kitchen

Now that we have covered some crucial questions, it is essential to analyze the space before choosing the lighting style. In this section, we will go over how to do just that.

Here are some important questions to ask yourself;

  1. Do I have a low ceiling height or high ceiling height?
  2. What amount of light do I need?
  3. How big is the kitchen island?
  4. What style is my kitchen? Is it modern, minimal, glam, or other?
  5. Is having an eco-friendly option important to me?
  6. How much natural lighting do I already have?

After you have answered these questions, we can now explore the best lighting options out there.

Key Elements

There are a few key elements to consider when exploring the best lighting option for you. Take a look at the following components to help you better decide on the best lighting fixtures for your kitchen.

Size & Shape

The size and shape of your kitchen island will play a significant role in deciding the type of lighting you want to use. If you have a large island, you can opt for a more dramatic look with a chandelier or multiple pendant lights. Pendant lights or recessed lighting will be better if you have a smaller island.


Another thing to consider is the layout of your kitchen. If you have an open concept kitchen, you will want to choose good lighting that can flow nicely with the rest of the space. For a more closed-off kitchen, you can choose lighting that focuses more on the island itself.


The last thing to consider is how you want to use the space. For example, pendant lights or recessed lighting would be a good option if you are looking for task lighting. However, if you are looking for more of a decorative look, then a chandelier, flush mount lighting, or multiple pendant lights would be a better option.

Now that we have gone over how to select the right lighting for your kitchen island, let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of lights.

open concept living room and kitchen with pendants over kitchen island
A kitchen island is probably the most popular social space in many homes. Make the design something you will love!

Lighting Options for your Kitchen Island

Lighting is extremely important because it helps illuminate the space while adding ambiance. When choosing to light your kitchen, it is important to consider the areas that need lighting. For example, lighting can be added under the cabinets, above the kitchen island, in the ceiling, and above the eat-in kitchen. Consider the following lighting options for your kitchen design.

Pendant Lighting 

Pendant lighting is a great way to add style and personality to your kitchen. These are great options because they are both functional and decorative. In addition, many different styles and types of pendant lights are available, so you can find the perfect one for your kitchen island. Pendant lights can also create focal points in a room or add extra light over the island.

Pendant lights also come in different sizes such as large pendants and small pendants. Or different shapes such as bulbs with clear glass, domes with exposed light bulbs, and other even linear pendant lighting.

modern kitchen design with plenty of windows and pendants hanging over kitchen island
These globe pendants are really unique and add a nice contrast to the other colors and textures in this contemporary kitchen design.

Eat-In Kitchen Lighting

Houses with an open kitchen layout commonly have an eat-in kitchen adjacent to the kitchen island. If this is the case for you, it is ideal to consider adding a decorative lighting fixture such as a pendant light, chandelier, or a flush or semi-flush mount light.

There are several eat-in kitchen chandeliers you can add above the dining table. Choosing the right one will depend on if you are looking for something more rustic, modern, glamorous, or coastal.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Undercabinet lighting is both functional and decorative. This lighting style is a great option for your kitchen island because it provides task lighting for food preparation or cooking and can also be used to accentuate your countertops and backsplash.

Photo Credit: Abby Organizes

If your kitchen does not have enough natural lighting, adding under cabinet lighting in addition to lighting over your kitchen island would be extremely helpful.

Under Lower Cabinet Lighting

This type of lighting is trending! The same lights that are used under the cabinets are also used for the lower part of the cabinet. The difference is that the light goes under the lower part of the cabinet which is closer to the floor. This type of lighting basically illuminates the floor and provides a cool ambiance. The cabinet lights add a nice touch to any kitchen design.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is a great energy-efficient option. These fixtures are hidden within the ceiling and are comprised of housing, trim, and the bulb. Compared to chandeliers or pendant lighting, recessed lighting is perfect for additional lighting and is used for functionality rather than decoration.

Linear Chandelier Lighting

Linear chandeliers are a popular choice for those who want to create an open, airy feeling in their kitchen. This lighting fixture is perfect for kitchens with high ceilings and large windows because it maximizes the natural light from outside. Linear chandelier fixtures can also be hung at different heights depending on the desired effect you’re trying to achieve.

Linear chandeliers come in all forms and sizes. Some can be more modern and sleek while others can be more eccentric.

Modern Pendant Lighting

Pendant lights are a popular choice for modern kitchens. They come in a variety of styles and can be hung at different ceiling heights to create the perfect look for your kitchen island. Pendant lighting is also a great way to add some extra light and decoration to your kitchen. The size of the pendant lights varies so you can hang large more ornate pendant lighting or smaller more sleek pendants.

Flush Mount Lighting

Flush mount lighting is the most common type of kitchen island lights, and it’s usually attached to the ceiling. This lighting option can be adjusted up or down in order to direct the light to wherever it’s needed. Also, when installed overhead, it allows more natural daylight into the room. Therefore, flush mount lighting is ideal for homes with low ceilings.

Semi-Flush Mount Lighting

Similar to flush mount lighting, semi-flush mount lighting is also suspended from the ceiling yet it is hung a few inches lower. Semi-flush mount lighting can be hung anywhere in the kitchen including above the kitchen island.

two semi-flush mount lighting fixtures installed over a kitchen island in a modern design
Photo Credit: Ylighting

Conclusion: Lighting Ideas for Kitchen Islands

There are many lighting designs to choose from when it comes to kitchen lighting. Pendant lighting, recessed lighting, under cabinet lighting, and linear chandelier lighting are all great choices for your kitchen island.

In addition, you can always add a dimmer switch to any of these options! It is important to consider the amount of natural light in your kitchen when choosing a light fixture because some types of lighting work better in certain lighting conditions.

With all of these lighting over kitchen island ideas and careful consideration, you are sure to find the perfect one for your kitchen island.

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