hey friend, 

get to know me

I'm Carrie Barker.

I'm here to simplify the home build planning and design process so that YOU can build your dream home with more confidence, less regrets, and a plan to create and stick to a realistic budget.

home build planning

Browse home build tips

Floor plan creation

home build budget

design finishes

get the freebie!

home decor

Browse design tips

design finishes

Follow along:

Home Build prep guide


Building a Home

How to Hang Pendant Lighting over Kitchen Island

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


Feeling a bit confused on how to hang your pendant lighting over your kitchen island?! Curious how high to hang the pendants and how far to space them apart? Unsure how many pendants you need for your size of island

You aren’t alone! SO. MANY. PEOPLE. ask these exact same questions! I will answer all of your burning (pendant hanging) questions in this post, and by the end, you will feel CONFIDENT in your ability to tell your electrician exactly how you want your pendants to hang over your kitchen island!

How to Hang Pendant Lights over Kitchen Island Pin

FYI: this post does NOT tell you how to physically hang a light; it’s an overview of the general guidelines of how high to hang and how far to space your pendants. I’ll also share some gorgeous pendants at the end to get you started on finding the perfect lighting for your kitchen!

Affiliate links are used in this post for your shopping convenience. Read my full disclosure HERE.


The general guideline is to hang a pendant 30-36” above your countertop. More specifically, there should be 30-36” between the top of your counter and the bottom of your pendant.

Keep in mind that this (and the recommendations below) are simply GUIDELINES! You can take the liberty to make slight adjustments to meet your needs! I admit that my pendants are closer to 40” above our kitchen island counter (say what?!). My husband is pretty tall (6’ 3”) and we didn’t want the pendants to obstruct his view of our family room when he was doing dishes at the kitchen island (yep, he does dishes!).

So consider your lifestyle (and your height!) and tweak the guidelines a bit if necessary!



Note: spacing will be determined by the number of pendants you choose to hang and the size of these pendants.

General guidelines for spacing pendants over your island:

  • If lighting a short island (6′ to 7′ wide), use two pendants that are at least 30” apart and equidistant from the center point of the island. The widest part of the pendant should be about 30” from the center of the island
  • A general rule of thumb: measure the width of your island and subtract by 12 to determine the max width light fixtures should hang. That is, you want at least 6” from the edge of counter on either side to the widest outside part of the pendant
  • If lighting a larger island with three pendants, hang one directly over the center of the island, then space pendants about 30” apart (but also remember that you want the outside of the pendant to be at least 6″ from the edge of the island … so you’ll need to dust off the old math skills and use them here!)
  • When hanging multiple pendants, the spacing will be determined by the diameter (how wide it is) of the pendant. Ideally, you want the space between each pendant to be at least the same as the width or diameter of each fixture
  • Space pendants at least two feet (24″) apart
  • If you choose one long pendant, it should be hung centered with the center point of the island and take up no more than ⅔ or the island (see diagram in next section)


So many factors go into answering this question! The general rule of thumb: the larger the area you want to light, the bigger the pendant light should be. Also, the higher your ceiling and the longer your island, the larger the pendant(s) should be.

You’ll have to use your eye as a judge in choosing pendant sizes that are on scale with your island and kitchen size (i.e. a large kitchen island should have large pendants).

Your intention for the light will also help determine the size of the pendant as well. Do you intend for the pendants to provide your task lighting (or do you have recessed lights that will do this)? Are you more interested in pendants as a design focal point in your kitchen (again, you’ll let the recessed lights provide task lighting)? As stated above, if you intend for the fixture to provide ample task lighting, you’ll want larger pendants.


We’ve covered the general guidelines on how to hang and space pendant lighting over your kitchen island! I hope you now feel more confident in guiding your electrician on how to hang your pendants! Pro Tip: you’ll want to be on-site when the electrician is hanging your pendants (or any lights) to make sure it all happens exactly as you want!

Now that you know how to hang your pendants, it’s time to find gorgeous pendants for your kitchen! I’ve included several of my favorite (on trend) pendants in Shop Pendant Lighting below to get you started! Simply click on any image to get more info!


  1. Kara Pascal says:

    Thanks for the info. In our new kitchen, set to be finished in July, the sink is not centered in the island. Should we center the 3 (or 4) pendant lights over the sink? Or center based on the length of the island? The island is 96″ long (total length). From the left end to the center of the sink is 39″. The lights we link are 6″ in diameter (https://www.ylighting.com/long-ribbon-pendant-light-by-jamie-young-co.-JAMY25239.html).

  2. Gautami Chitteti says:

    We are redoing our kitchen and i see various pictures online which place pendants closer to one side than center. Would you recommend that or have lights in middle?

    • Hi! I assume you are referring to having just two pendants above your island … with no center pendant. Is that correct?

      This is a very popular look right now … and I am even considering changing my pendant lighting to just two. I love the look and think you should go for it! The only reason I am hesitating for my own kitchen is because I’ll need someone to patch up my ceiling if I move lighting around!

      • Kirsty James says:

        Hi, I have a peninsular that is 8ft long, I currently have 2 pendant lights but have an electricial coming tomorrow morning to move them… I want them to be off centre, more towards the edge that is connected to the wall. Can you give me an idea of measurements for this please asap 🙂 Thanks so much, greatly apprechiated

  3. Nora Keithley says:

    Our kitchen island is 93 inches long. The stove is off center. 38 inches to the edge of the counter and 24 inches to the wall. How many lights and what kind of pendent lights?

    • Hi Nora! I would suggest two larger (wider) pendants or three smaller pendants for your 93″ long island. Hope that helps! If you want help finding pendants, please visit my E-DESIGN page and email me if you want to proceed with e-design.

    • Cindy T. says:

      We are having our sink counter wall opened up to the family room with no upper cabinets. The entire opening will be 132”long. I’m afraid that if I use the 30” (between pendents) rule of thumb that it will just be too much. The sink will also not be centered in this opening. What are your thoughts about this? Thank you!!

      • Cindy T. says:

        As I reread my question/comment, I thought it might need clarification. When I said I was afraid that it would be too much, I meant that 5 pendents might just be too many.

        • Yes, five pendants does seem like overkill! It’s so hard to answer design questions without seeing a photo of the space and getting more details (which is something I offer only with e-design clients). However, my guess is that three large (wide) pendants might work great. Typically I would center with the counter (and not necessarily with the sink). Again, it’s hard for me to give you a solid answer without more details and photos of your space. Good luck :). Carrie

      • Lori Moran says:

        Hi, my island is 5ft x 6ft….almost square. How would you suggest doing lighting over this size island. The 5ft side is facing the great room.

        • Hi Lori! Your island lighting placement depends on your sink placement. If it’s in the island, then I would have the pendants hanging closer to above the sink. However, if you don’t have a sink in your square-ish island, I would center the pendants over the island (i.e. center both ways).

          • Lori Moran says:

            Would you do two pendants and what size pendants. 5ft x 6ft island —- short side of island facing great room. Or,
            Would you do one chandelier and what shape?

  4. Judith says:

    Our kitchen island is 8ft x37 1/2” W x 36” H
    Our sink is a bit off center due to dishwasher. Would I be able to use 11” diameter pendant lights.

    • Are you planning to use three pendants above your island, Judith? I think 11″ will work … and I would still center the pendants with the island (as opposed to the sink).

  5. Rita Papagni says:

    Does the hanging lights HAVE to hang perfectly centered over the counter top



  8. […] have a great blog post that answers this question in detail for you! Please read HOW TO HANG PENDANT LIGHTING OVER KITCHEN ISLAND to learn how high (over your island) to hang your pendants, how to space your kitchen island […]

  9. Janet says:

    Hi. I have a 67” x 40” island. Doing 2 pendants. Your site says to place them 30-32” apart. Is that measurement shade to shade or wire to wire? Also would 8” or 9” pendants work or should I do 10”. We have low ceilings, 7’7”…. thanks!

    • Hi Janet! Your island is quite small, so I would still with a smaller pendant … however, there wouldn’t be a huge difference between 8″ and 9″. The spacing will be from shade to shade. Not wire to wire. If you can look at the comment I left for Caitlin (on this post), there’s a trick I suggested to make sure you like the spacing BEFORE you drill any holes in the ceiling!

  10. Caitlin says:

    We have a 4’x9′ island and are hanging (3) 11.5 recycled flynn pendants from pottery barn over the island. In your post you mentioned having 30″ between each light. Does this mean that the electrical on the ceiling would be 30″ apart or that the actual space between pendants would be 30″ apart in our case one would be centered on island and the others 42″ to the left and right for electrical on the ceiling? Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Caitlin! Great question! So … you typically want about 30″ between the actual pendants (not the electrical box). You could get away with this equation with your 9′ island. You would still have about 7.5″ on the each side of the island to your right and left pendants. Sorry – that is a really confusing explanation. The bottom line … I recommend 30″ between pendants. However, go with what look you love the most. I would start by measuring where you think you want your pendants and place them on the island. Do this BEFORE you ever drill a hole in the ceiling! If your island isn’t built yet, I would suggest putting painter’s tape on the floor to outline the island and then use painters tape (or the pendants if you already have them) to see the spacing you like the most before you drill a hole.

      • Jill says:

        Hi Carrie,
        We have a 10 foot island that we are putting in and wanted to do three drum style pendants above it. Visually the size that appears to be best in that space has a 24 inch bottom diameter. However, this would not allow more than 18 inches distance between base of the shades.
        We think the smaller 16 inch shades appear too small over the 10 foot island but I guess could consider that or switch to two shades. What are your thoughts?

  11. Step says:

    I have a 72″ island.. We were thinking of doing two pendant lights but not sure which size to go with the width of the pendant two 10.5″ or two 13.75″ Thanks

    • When choosing the width, also consider the height of the pendants and your ceiling height. All of these measurements (pendant width, pendant height, and ceiling height) should be taken into consideration. If your pendants have substantial height and your ceiling is low, then the smaller width would be better. If you have a high ceiling (9′ or higher), definitely go with the larger pendants! P.S. you can always buy both and see how they look in your kitchen before making a decision. You can return the pendants you don’t use (but of course, make sure you are allowed to return before you purchase).

  12. Jennifer Addesso says:

    Hi!! I’m having the hardest time with picking pendants to go over my island. Island is 8ft by 4ft. I really wanted these specific restoration hardware globe pendants that come in 8″, 11″ and 14”. My builder suggest I get 3 11″ ones but I’m unsure because I really l prefer the look of two larger ones. I’m concerned that the 14″ wont be large enough to do 2. What are your thoughts? Should I try and find different lights that come a little larger.

    • Hi Jennifer! First of all, go with what YOU WANT … not what your builder *thinks* you should do! It’s YOUR house! I have the exact same size island as you and I regret doing three small pendants. However, I built six years ago before large pendants were a ‘thing’. So … go with the two larger pendants. Think about all the dimensions when you consider if 14″ is wide enough. That is, what is the pendant height and what is your ceiling height? All of these measurements come into play when choosing pendant size. Can you email me a link to the RH globe pendant that you’re looking at?

  13. Stephanie says:

    We are building a new house and trying to decide what size pendant lights to use over the kitchen island. The Island is 6ft long, we have decided to use two pendant lights. One is 10.5″ width and one is 13.75″ width, I can’t decide which size to go with? Any input would greatly be appreciated? Thanks

  14. Tremarmo says:

    Looking for advice….

    Our new kitchen island will be 9′ x 5′ in size. We have 11′ ceilings in the kitchen that is roughly 16′ x 15′. It is open to the great room and dinette area. Due to wood beams, we only want 2 island pendants. I had chosen 2 – 20″ pendants for this space. The decorator at the lighting store is recommending 2 – 16.5″ pendants. Are those going to be large enough? I’m elated that she’s recommending we spend less money on these lights, but I’m worried they aren’t going to be large enough. Recommendations?


    • It’s so tricky for me to recommend what’s best without really looking at your photos of your space and the light fixtures (and putting them into a design board). I do that for clients, but I don’t have the time to do this for everyone. My best advice for you is to have the decorator create a digital design board (to scale) with the kitchen island and pendants to see how they look. Another option is to borrow lights of both sizes (16.5″ and 20″) and hold them up over your island to see what size you like best. Hope that helps!


  16. Sheila Galbraith says:

    I have a 12 foot island and vaulted ceilings. Pendants would be hung at about 10-11 foot on sloped ceiling. Looking at 3 pendants to hang above. Would 15” or 19” work better?

    • Hi Sheila! It’s very difficult for me to give a solid answer without seeing images and getting more details about the space. However, based on the info you gave me, I think 19″ would work better because your island is so long and your ceilings are vaulted. You kitchen sounds like it’s going to be GORGEOUS! xo, Carrie

  17. Jill says:

    Hi- iam having a hard time buying pendant lights- my kitchen island is 7.50 feet long with a 30 by 30 range in the center. How may pendant lights should I mount, I was thinking of 2 Flynn glass pendant lights by pottery barn 11.50 in diameter- they also make them in 17 diameter. Thank you Jill

    • Hi Jill! It’s always hard for me to give advice without seeing photos, but I would say that you could probably use the larger (17″) Flynn pendants since you are only going to have two pendants and your island is fairly long. Good luck! – Carrie

  18. […] hang pendant lighting kitchen island Image Source From : carolineondesign.com […]

  19. Jon Wilcox says:

    Hi Carrie. This site is very useful! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. One spatial dimension doesn’t seem to be talked about: Where to locate the lights front to back over the island. Mine is 87 by 37. I’d like to place the pendants (6 inch dia x 3) about 12-14 inches from the cabinet side front. 30 inches apart and 34 – 36 inches off the counter top. My thinking is that this will make the seating area more inviting while still making the working side functional. Are there guidelines for this?

    Jon W

    • I don’t think there are guidelines for this. I’ve been in kitchens where the lighting is over the sink/cabinet side of the island and it looks great!

  20. […] Download Image More @ carolineondesign.com […]

  21. Nana Nancy says:

    My Island is 95 inches long and 45 inches wide. My three clear glass pendants are 6 1/4” each . My sink is off center by three inches. Should we center the middle pendant with the center of the sink and faucet or proportion to the island?

    • Hi Nancy! I would probably center the middle pendant with the island (as opposed to the sink). It’s hard for me to give a firm answer without doing a mockup of the design, but my gut answer is center with your island :).

      • Cindy T says:

        Hi Carrie,
        Do you also center the pendants along the short width of the island too. If the short part of the island is 45 (which could be sink to barstools). Or do the pendants go more forward closer towards the barstools? I’ve notice on all websites everyone addresses the longest width of the island but doesn’t explain how to measure the short width of the island. Hope my question makes sense…

        • Yes, that makes sense, Cindy. Great question! This is really up to you … you can center with the short width or hang the lights just over the centerline to be closer to where the stools will sit. Does that make sense? That is what I did in my own kitchen; the lights are not completely centered on the short width way.

  22. Gail says:

    This is SO helpful! What about a curved island? I have three pendants and want to hang them following the curve, but still using your guidelines for 30” apart, etc. Is that okay?

    • Yes, Gail, I think this will work with a curved island. It’s hard for me to say for sure since I don’t have a visual of your actual island, but I think it will work!

  23. Jenny says:

    All these huge islands! We downsized and moved into a condo and are taking a wall out between the kitchen and a 2nd living room which I’m calling a keeping room. We are putting an island (62 x 65). I’m thinking maybe 1 bigger pendent as opposed to 2. If 62 is the width of the island, the single should be 33″ or less? Could I get by with a 36″ if it’s very open and airy? Thanks!

  24. Griselda Camino says:

    If my kitchen island and family room are in the same open space, will it be too much to place island lighting? I already have a pretty big lamp on top of my sofa in the family room and we have recessed lighting already in the kitchen. However, our island is so big (100 inches) that it seems like its missing a nice pendant lighting over it. Any suggestions? Should I do one simple linear lighting vs 3 individual pendants or just keep the recess lighting alone?

    • You might have enough lighting with the amount of recessed lighting and lamps … however, pendants over an island are as much decorative as they are functional. If you are going for an ultra-modern look, then I would say no pendants. Otherwise, I think islands look better with beautiful lighting above. You have the same size island as me … I have three small pendants above mine. If I were building my home today, though, I would do two medium-sized pendants above my island.

  25. […] View Image More Like This […]

  26. Colleen says:

    Thank you for this information!
    We just installed two pendant lights over our kitchen island. However, we have a sloped/vaulted ceiling
    and the lights hang uneven. I can’t decide if it looks OK or if we should fix them. Unfortunately, the rods
    only come in 6 and 12 inch pieces so we can’t adjust them to make them hang at the same length.

    • Hi Colleen! It’s nearly impossible for me to give you advice since I don’t have a visual of your kitchen pendants. I think it really just depends on how much the uneven pendants bother YOU. If they don’t bother you, then I wouldn’t worry about changing them. If they do bother you, then choose a different pendant that allows you to customize the rod/wire length.

  27. Tonya Jenkins says:

    Hi, we have a 9 ft island (108”) and the width is 3ft 8” with 12ft ceiling. I like the look of big pendants. Should I use two or three of them and what size width and height would you suggest?

  28. Sheri Twenge says:

    My island is 60″ x 110″. I am in love with the Thomas O’Brien Eugene pendant, but I only have 8′ ceilings. Wondering if that fixture will look too heavy with lower ceilings? I am thinking of two pendants. Also struggling with what size to get, 15″ x 15″ or the 21″w x 19″h. The larger only allows 8″ between the ceiling and the top of the fixture. Too big?

    • I don’t think this pendant will look too ‘heavy’. The size is a bit trickier because you have a relatively large island, but a low ceiling. 8″ isn’t very much space between the ceiling and fixture. Honestly, this is one of those situations where I would need to create a visual of your kitchen island and ceiling (to scale) so I can really picture how the spacing/sizing would look. I don’t have the ability (i.e. time) to do this for readers. Sorry I can’t give you a more specific answer :).

  29. Melanie says:

    Hi Carrie!
    Thank you for the great post on how to hang pendant lights! I found your instructions the most intuitive out there! We have a 10 foot island and three 16″ hourglass pendants. What I come up with is 30 inches between with 6 inches left from each edge of the counter. Does this seem right? Would you recommend three or two 16″ pendants over a 10 foot island?


  31. Cheryl Jones says:

    Thank you for your tips, they are so helpful! I am currently trying to decide what to do about lighting over our peninsula/breakfast bar. We are doing recessed lighting throughout the kitchen for our main lighting but I love the look of pendants over this area since it opens up to the living room. I don’t want anything big and bulky, thinking more along the lines of a glass sphere or possibly a bell-shape, but am open to suggestions. We have a 66″ peninsula, but my problem is that the wall it originates from has a ceiling-height upper cabinet (15″ deep, 36″ wide) that partially overlaps the peninsula. I obviously don’t want to install a pendant light in the path of the cabinet door (18″). Would a single one look out of place on its own? Will it look odd to do 2 lights, but off center away from the wall/cabinet? Or do I forgo the pendants altogether? Any advice would be much appreciated!

  32. Jill Frye says:

    Hi Carrie,
    I am installing a 72″ wide x 37″ deep island and am thinking of installing two 13.5″ wide pendants. * The FRONT of the island has two 30″ wide base cabinets with drawers AND a 12″ open shelf on the LT side (facing the family room). * The BACK side has three counter stools, evenly spaced across the 72″ counter. Should I center the 2 pendants over the 72″ width or centered over the 60″ base cabinets (excluding the open shelf)?

  33. Trudy says:

    Hi Caroline,
    Great information you gave here. I have another problem though. With me having no experience AT ALL with placing the power source correctly on ceiling, the electrician placed 2…at 24″ apart (on centre) over a peninsula that is 72″ long and 39″ wide.
    I’m stuck. I dont want
    teeny pendants, but ones that are 10″ wide feel like they could be too big.
    I dont think a lighting bar on ceiling is an option for us. I also dont want the expense of electrician moving the hookup location on ceiling and THE having to repaint the ceiling. Ugh.
    What size should my two pendants be, without feeling they are tight in the space?
    Please help!!

  34. Sue says:

    I’m building a new home with a large island, 104″ long and 39″ wide. There will be nothing on the island, no sink or stove top. I like the look of the larger pendants and would like to use 2 generous size pendants. What size would you suggest?

    • Hi Sue! I am unable to help with specific design requests or questions … there isn’t enough of me to go around with thousands of readers. However, my advice is to ask for advice at your lighting store when you go to purchase lights :). – Carrie

  35. Jan says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I have a 7 foot island and am looking at installing two, 16inch pendants. The ceilings are 19 feet high . . . I am still worried that 16 inches might be overbearing though, thoughts?

  36. Ashley says:

    Hi there,

    We are in the process of renovating our kitchen and I am not sure what to do about the island lighting. We removed a wall to open up the kitchen into our front living room. We are adding a small island (~63”x28”) and doing banquette seating/table off the back of it, towards the living space. I was thinking of doing one larger light above the island, instead of two smaller pendant lights. The one I was looking at is 21.25” wide (https://www.homedepot.com/p/307519953). What are you thoughts about this? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Ashley! 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!

  37. Amanda says:

    Hi Caroline! We are building now and have a 7×4 island. Ceiling height is 9 feet. The lanterns I bought are way too big for that size but I really want this certain lantern pendant. They have a smaller size lantern pendant that is 20” tall and 12 inches wide. I thought those would be great but what do you think? Is 20 inches too tall?

    • Hi Amanda! I’m so sorry, but 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get My free  
Home Build Prep Guide

yes! I need this!


home build prep guide


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.

hey there,

Follow me on instagram!