Kitchen islands are the heart of the kitchen. They’re used for prepping, baking, serving, eating, and socializing. Some kitchen counters even serve as children’s school homework spaces or craft areas. Considering all the activities that take place around a kitchen counter, it is important to ensure that there is sufficient lighting. For small tasks like slicing and chopping vegetables, or gluing small details onto a craft project, good lighting is essential. Not only is lighting around your kitchen island functional, but it also creates ambiance, especially in open-plan living areas. Our guide will help you choose the top-of-the-line kitchen island lighting in 2023 so you can stay on-trend and create an incredible atmosphere. Here are our top kitchen island lighting picks based on their features, quality, design, and price.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding Your Quality Kitchen Island Lighting
Lighting in a home plays a much bigger role than just making it possible to see when it’s dark. Carefully selected lighting throughout your home can set the mood, create an inviting and friendly atmosphere, and enhance the warm or cool tones of the woodwork in your home. Although the main function of kitchen island lighting is to provide task lighting over work areas, it also contributes largely to your home’s ambiance and overall design. In this guide, we outline everything you need to consider when choosing the best kitchen island lighting, from types of fixtures and installation spacing to bulb types and lighting temperature.
What To Look for When Choosing Kitchen Island Lighting
Light fixture size & visual weight
If the ceilings in your kitchen are high, larger light fixtures can serve as a striking design element in addition to providing light. For compact or very busy spaces, turn to minimalistic designs that are smaller and will enhance the pre-existing bold features in the kitchen, so that your light fixtures are not competing for attention and making the room look cluttered.
The shape, materials, and color of the light fixtures all contribute to how well they will integrate with the surrounding elements and how much illumination they’ll provide. Small, clear glass globes floating from the ceiling allow other features in the kitchen to remain the focal point while offering an unobtrusive, simplistic, and elegant lighting design. A chandelier, on the other hand, will immediately become an engaging focal point that will integrate well with a subdued kitchen design. Take into account whether you want the lighting to be the focal point of your space or whether you want the lighting to serve as a minor design feature in your kitchen.
Types of Light Fixtures
The type of light fixture you choose will influence both the quality of lighting and the look of your space.
Pendant lights are the most popular type of lighting for kitchen islands since they provide bright task lighting, as their bulbs are oriented to shine directly downwards. They have long cables that extend from the ceiling, bringing the light source closer to your workspace. These lights are available in a variety of styles, including glass globes and solid bell-shaped designs. This makes them ideal for pairing with a range of different kitchen designs and layouts.
Recessed lights provide a good amount of task lighting without taking up any headspace. These lights may be a good option for kitchens that have a low ceiling or that already feature very busy and dramatic designs. Recessed lights can be integrated with dimmers in addition to pendant lights to offer accent lighting rather than serve as the main source of task lighting.
Linear structures can either be one long solid beam light or multi-light fixtures on one beam structure. This light type is designed to stretch out across the kitchen island and works well with large islands and simple kitchen designs so that the beam light can act as a focal point.
When installing light fixtures, you should have at the very least 30 inches of clearance between the bottom of the fixture and the kitchen island countertop. If your fixtures offer very bright light, you can hang them higher while still maintaining ample task lighting. For safety reasons, it is recommended to hang your lights higher than 30 inches above the countertop if you have very tall members in your household, or if your island features a cooktop. You should always have a clear line of vision without lights hanging in your face or bumping against your head.
Number of Light Fixtures
Too few lights won’t provide enough illumination in a large space, while too many can make the kitchen look cluttered. Generally, design follows the notion of uneven numbers to provide visual balance. Therefore, three light fixtures is a common design choice, however, the number of lights you need will be largely influenced by the size of your kitchen island as well as the brightness of the lights. You may opt for five or seven lights in large areas or when using smaller recessed lights. On the contrary, a small space may only need one sufficiently bright light.
Light Fixture Distance
If you are using two light fixtures, ideally you should set them 30 inches apart. For three or more hanging pendants, decrease the distance between each light so that they cover the full length of the island. Keep in mind that the distance needs to be measured from the light source. In other words, take your measurements on the ceiling from where the fixture is fitted, rather than the countertop, to determine the distance between each light.
LED bulbs are the best and most popular choice of bulb since they are energy efficient. They feature low wattage and high lumens, which is ideal for task lighting.
Lighting color temperature describes the feeling of visual warmth created by a light bulb. Lighting colors range from yellow to white to blue. The temperature can affect the mood created in the living space, as well as the way the decor is accentuated. Some temperatures are ideal for task lighting, while others are better for accent lighting only. The temperature is measured from 1,000 to 10,000 degrees of Kelvin (K), with commercial and residential lights ranging anywhere between 2,000 to 6,500 K.
To make the space feel warm and inviting (which is generally what you want for a kitchen), stick to warmer color temperatures between 2,700K and 3,500K. This level of warmth will work especially well with dark timber finishes or deep wooden floors. Kitchens that are designed with a cool white look may benefit from lights with cooler temperatures, offering a light yellow or white cast.
Other Kitchen Island Lighting Features
Dimmers are a highly recommended extra feature since they allow you to set the mood and adjust the brightness of your lighting. Dimmers allow you to set a relaxed after-dinner evening mood with softened light, or adjust your lights to their full brightness when slicing, dicing, and preparing meals.
The shape of light fixtures affects the entire kitchen design, the visual weight, and the degree of illumination. Geometric or slender cylinder shape lights are popularly paired with modern spaces boasting clean lines and white finishes, while ornate light shapes pair well with formal spaces. If you are unsure of what shape to go with, dome-shaped pendant fixtures are a versatile choice that pairs well with a variety of designs.
Compare Our Favorite Kitchen Island Lighting In 2023
These solid crystal pendant lights are unique and classically elegant. This light fixture is a clear hexagonal prism crystal with a weight of 5.5 pounds and is accompanied by three 12-inch, one 6-inch, and one 3-inch hanging rods, which can be adjusted for a total length of up to 56 inches. The fitting is suitable for slanted ceilings, making installation easy no matter where you choose to hang it. This light is compatible with a dimmer switch so you can create incredible ambiance in a bedroom, bathroom, lounge, kitchen, or dining area. The fittings and rod come in a brushed brass finish or polished nickel options.
Solid hexagonal crystal prism pairs well with a variety of interior designs
No lightbulb is needed since it is preinstalled into the fixture
Purchase includes mounting hardware
50,000 hours of light
The light has an adjustable brightness of 550 lumens which may not be sufficient on its own for lighting over your kitchen island
This gorgeous 7.9-inch hand-blown glass shade has a unique marble design that will add a contemporary and elegant touch to your kitchen. It has a width of 3.9-inches and comes with a 75-inch adjustable insulated cord for convenient installation. The brushed nickel top cap finishes off the design stylishly and adds to the durability of the light. An LED Edison-style bulb is recommended; however, the fitting is also compatible with incandescent and CFL bulbs. The maximum bulb recommendation is 60 watts with 110-120 volts.
The unique hand was blown blue glass marble design
Purchase includes one shade with a metal base, a cord, and a top cap
Compatible with different bulb types
UL safety certification
The artistic design may be too much in a kitchen that already has a very busy look
Casamotion offers a unique pumpkin-shaped pendant light with a modern artistic design that will pair well with contemporary, vintage, organic, or minimalist decor. This versatile shade is made from hand-blown glass with a textured finish. It has a width of 9.2-inches, a height of 6.1-inches, and is accompanied by a 70.8-inch adjustable cord with a brushed nickel finish. The fitting is compatible with LED, incandescent, and CFL bulbs. The maximum bulb recommendation is 40 watts and 110-120 volts.
The unique handblown glass with a pumpkin-shaped bubble design
Pairs well with a variety of room designs
Compatible with different bulb types
Purchase includes adjustable cord for installation and top cap
Some customers complained that the light hangs unevenly
Melucee’s glass pendant lights are a great addition to any interior due to their simplistic yet modern and functional design. The clear glass cylinder comes with four 10-inch rods for an adjustable height of up to 40 inches. The lights are 4-inches in diameter and provide ample brightness to your space. The pendant light is available in three different finishes—oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, or brass—so you can find the perfect match that will complement the rest of your kitchen. This light is also ideal for use in a bathroom, dining, or living area.
Includes all mounting hardware, except the bulb
Suitable for sloped or angled ceilings
Supports a variety of E26 base bulbs
Pairs well with a variety of room designs
The maximum rod height adjusts to 40 inches which may be too short if you have very high ceilings
These inverted wine-glass-shaped shades offer a charming industrial vintage look with their matte black finish. They pair well with a variety of kitchen designs; since they are clear, they match both dark, moody spaces and light, airy interiors. With a width of 5.1-inches and a height of 6.3-inches, they provide little visual weight with sleek fixtures and soft edges. The adjustable cord allows you to install the hanging pendant at various lengths, ranging from 11-inches to 58-inches. The maximum recommended bulb power is 60 watts.
Clear glass design pairs well with a variety of room colors and materials
Includes all mounting hardware except the bulb
Supports a variety of E26 base bulbs
Adjustable cord for customizable hanging
The glass shade is not very thick and may break if not handled with care
People Also Asked
Q: How do I determine the size of pendants I need for kitchen island lighting?
A: Long kitchen islands with high ceilings can generally accommodate wide and tall pendants while short islands with low ceilings are best paired with small, narrow pendants.
Q: How do I determine the number of pendants needed for my kitchen island?
A: The number of pendants you use will largely depend on their size, shape, and amount of light they offer. One method you can use is to divide the length of your island evenly. If your island is six feet long, for example, you can install two pendants (one for every 3 feet,) with each pendant centered over one half of the island.
Q: How many watts are best for kitchen lighting?
A: This will depend on the amount of natural light coming into your space, the number of fixtures, and whether you have light or dark finishes. In general, use 100 watts for darker spaces and kitchens with dark cabinets and floors. An 80-watt bulb should be sufficient for lighter areas and designs.
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