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How to Choose Kitchen Island Lighting

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written by:

Carrie Barker


Are you building a new home (or renovating your kitchen) and it’s time to pick out pendants to go over your kitchen island? Maybe you’re confused about what size pendants you need or where to even shop for pendants (other than the local lighting store your builder recommended).

If you’re looking for some pendant ideas PLUS a little guidance on how to choose the correct size pendant, this post on how to choose kitchen island lighting will help! As you’ll see, though, interior design isn’t an exact science. There is no ‘one size fits all’, but I can give you some general guidelines.

How to choose kitchen island lighting pin

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When shopping for pendant lights, you need to figure out a couple of things before you can start narrowing your selection. You need to know how many lights you want and the optimal size (based on your island size as well as your ceiling height).

Once you figure these things out, it’s time to start shopping! I’ve made this easier by sharing many of my favorite pendant lights below (as well as a list of where I buy light fixtures).


First of all, let’s answer the question, Do I really need to hang pendant lights over my island?

Absolutely not! This is YOUR home, my friend! You can do WHATEVER you want! The reason people hang pendant lighting over their island is for task lighting as well as decorative purposes. If you have ample task lighting in your ceiling, there is no need for pendants if you don’t want them for decorative purposes.


Ultimately, the size of your pendant lighting should be related to the amount of light you need (i.e. a larger pendant will provide more lighting than a smaller pendant). However, there is more that goes into it than just that.

When choosing pendants to hang above your kitchen island, you should consider the width and height of the pendants as well as your ceiling height and island length. All of these measurements (pendant width, pendant height, ceiling height, and island length) should be taken into consideration when choosing pendants.

In general, the longer your kitchen island and the higher your ceiling, the larger (wider and taller) your pendant can be. The shorter your island and the lower your ceiling, the smaller (narrower and shorter) your pendant should be. Error on the side of going a little bigger though (i.e. don’t go below 10″ wide … I did this and I regret it!).

I understand this is a very simplistic and vague way of suggesting what size pendant you should order, but it’s tricky for me to recommend actual sizing without really looking at photos of your space and putting the light fixtures into a digital design board (to scale).

Like I said above … this is YOUR kitchen! Interior design isn’t an exact science, so do what YOU want! Below are some looks that I love and might inspire you :).

I am OBSESSED with this design by Bria Hammel Interiors … these huge gold cone pendants look beautiful over this long island.

I also happen to love this look by Kate Marker Interiors. These are smaller-scale pendants over a large island. Remember when I said, ‘interior design isn’t an exact science’? I’m proving my point right now … these two very different looks are both equally beautiful!

This island isn’t huge, but these gold dome pendants are a substantial size … and they look great! Here is a similar pendant … it comes in three sizes.


Design Tip: Use blue painter’s tape to ‘map’ out the width of the pendants on your kitchen island to see if you like the spacing. Cut your tape to be the same width as the desired pendant’s width dimensions.


Like pendant sizing, the number of lights over your island is dependent on how large of a pendant you choose as well as the length of your kitchen island. The number of pendants will also be dependent on the look you’re going for (i.e. do you love the look of three smaller pendants or two larger pendants more?).

I, personally, have three smaller (about 8″ wide) pendants over my 8′ island and I SO wish I had done two larger pendants instead (unfortunately, larger pendants didn’t start trending until after I built my home in 2013).

The island below could easily have three smaller pendants, but I love how the two large pendants flank the range.


Here is a list of my personal favorite places to order lighting online. Simply click on the pink text to be redirected to the retailer’s website.









I hope you found this guide on how to choose kitchen island lighting helpful. Of course, I can’t give you specific answers to the best choice (i.e. actual size of pendants) for your kitchen but you can use this information as a guideline on how to choose the best size of pendants for your kitchen dimensions!


  1. Terri says:

    Hi! My island is 8×10. I have 2 of the large Fancy Darlana Lanterns. Are they too large to use both? Thanks

    • Hi Terri! These wouldn’t be too large at all! I believe they are only about 24″ wide. I’m a little confused about your island dimensions … is it almost square (as opposed to rectangle)?

  2. Medaja says:

    Had never thought choosing kitchen island lighting is this simple. Thank you for your helpful post


  4. Jessie says:

    Hi! This was so helpful! Can you please link the lighting in the LORI PARANJAPE photo above? Need to see it for my kitchen! thanks!

  5. Stacy says:

    I am crushing on these pendants, the “Everly” by Kichler, which I just bought to put over my island. Seeded glass, metal rods, just gorgeous! I believe an odd number of pendants looks best, i.e. three instead of two.
    Here they are installed in a model home in my area:

    • Jale Breidenstein says:

      If I have a 7 ft island do you think 3 of this ever my with nickle pendant 11 in

    • Jake BREIDENSTEIN says:

      Can you tell in that model him if those pendants are bronze or nickel. I’m just wondering if our handles are nickel do I go with a bronze cord or nickel cord for the pendant

  6. Joa says:

    HI do you think on pendant spoutnik like chandelier that is larger (120 cm) and normaly used over a dining table would look great over a 6 foot kitchen island?

  7. Nita says:

    we currently have an L shaped breakfast bar which we are reducing to counter height to increase useable counter space. I have only 2 pendants above the breakfast bar and nothing along the perpendicular counter and would like to add more lighting. any suggestions would be great. Thanks.

  8. Tom Hillman says:

    These are the very important things to choosing perfect kitchen lights. These lights work well for setting a delightful ambiance, they are an indirect light source. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Holly Moog says:

    I’m having trouble choosing pendant lights to put above my island. My counters are black and my cabinets are a honey wood color. I’ve had glass before and don’t always love how it looks. I need 3 and they cannot be anymore than 10 inches in width.
    Thank you,

    • Hi Holly! I’m unable to help with personal design dilemmas as I have over 100K readers on my blog each month. My advice is to ask at a local lighting store or hire an interior designer for one hour to get some guidance. Best!

  10. NehaC says:

    Hi! My Kitchen island is 11X4. I am thinking of hanging 2 dome shaped pendants of 24″ in diameter. Are they too large for the island? Thanks

    • Hi! I’m unable to help with personal design dilemmas as I have over 100K readers on my blog each month. My advice is to ask at a local lighting store or hire an interior designer for one hour to get some guidance. Best!

  11. Lourdes Jimenez says:

    Hello. I am downsizing to a condo. Kitchen has an island about 3′ x5′, right next to the DR (ceiling lights/chandelier) right next to the entrance (overhead light) in an open concept plan, I like clean uncluttered looks, always wanted pendant lighting. Will it be too much to have pendant lighting over the island? Or should I have 2 potlights? If pendant lighting, are 2 individual lights on 2 separate opening vs 1 opening better? Thanks.

  12. Lori Moran says:

    I want to you one globe
    Chandelier centered over 5 ft x 6 ft counter island (10 ft ceilings). How large should globe chandelier be?

  13. Kathy Zilkha says:

    I love the oversized large cone shaped bronze (or gold) pendants on the first photo. However, I cannot find them online anywhere. Do you know who makes them?

  14. Bonnie says:

    I have an 114″ island and would like to use a linear pendant light–longest i can find so far is 49″ –is thtat too small?


    • That might work, Bonnie, but it’s hard for me to give a quick answer when I don’t create a mockup to scale to see how it will look. If you’re purchasing from a local lighting store, I would have the retailer create a mockup to scale for you so you can visualize it.

  15. Max says:

    Hi, I have a small island only 60 inches, but I love big pendent globe lights. What size pendants should I get & how many?

    Also, my kitchen cabinets are white & my island is expresso. My appliances are black stainless steel, can I get matte black & white pendants with gold trimming? Or that will be too much going on, different metals clashing? The issue is I don’t like areas to be too matchy. I was also thinking off adding gold knobs & pulls to assist the gold trim pendants to complete the look.

  16. Sheila Surikow says:

    Hi Carrie,
    We are building a home with an open concept kitchen, dining and living area. The concrete island will be 8’6” by 4’. Is it ok to have 3 small pendant lights (4.5” wide) over the island or would they be too small?
    Thank you.

  17. Kathy Castro says:

    Hello Carrie,

    We are building a home with an open concept kitchen, dining and living area. Our ceilings are 10″ high. Our kitchen island measures 7′ X 6 ‘ but I can extend to 7′ x 7’ to make it a perfect square if needed. My question is regarding my choice of pendant lights. I have fallen in love with the Claud French Country Wooden White Pendant and they are giant! The are 23″ I love the look of oversized pendants but worry this may be too big!?!?! I would have just barely over a foot from the edge of the counter and between fixtures. Is this enough??? I would really appreciate your advice!!!

    • Hi Kathy! It’s hard for me to answer this without doing a drawing to scale, but off the top of my head, it seems like you could do two of these large pendants. I would have your builder or kitchen designer create a drawing to scale of your island with the pendants.

  18. Rhonda Marincus says:

    Hi Carrie,

    Just wondering what your opinion would be on lighting over a 6’x8′ island that has the shorter end on the side that faces the open dining and living space – eating overhang on the side open to the the living/dining as well as on the 8 ‘ side. Would you put the pendants across the 6 ‘ span so you see them from the other room or across the 8’ span so they run perpendicular to the living/ dining space? Thank you.

    • I’m so sorry, Rhonda, but I don’t offer personalized design feedback specific to a reader’s kitchen. I recommend that you meet with a local designer that can actually stand in your space and visualize it.

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  20. Diana says:

    Can I used a flush mount light over the island or does it have to be a pendant? I’m really hung up over this 🙁

  21. Jody says:

    My kitchen has the shorter end of the island facing the kitchen entrance. I’m leaning towards two 12″ pendants, but wondering if maybe one large pendant would look better, where the sight line would have multiple lights showing one after the other. Do you have any related articles on lighting for that orientation? I find it difficult to keep it from looking too busy.

  22. KW says:

    Love the content. I have a 27” x 120” island with 8’ ceiling height. I’ll be doing three pendants (wish I could do two, but the length goes bit lend itself with an island so skinny I am thinking- correct me if I am wrong) what is the ideal height and width for a pendant? I know there is no exact science. The room size is 21’ x 13’ and leads opening into the family room. Would you do glass or directional down lighting? I have well balanced recessed lights in the kitchen and planning under cabinet lighting. I have an arteriors rittenhouse scalloped bronze chandelier you can see from the kitchen from a door way leading off the kitchen. Any suggestions welcome.

  23. Judi Haller says:

    I have an island that is 62″(5/16′) x 88″(7.37′). It is in an open concept living room/kitchen. How large should my two pendants be over the island?

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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