Pendant Lighting Ideas for Kitchen Islands and More

Published By: Shades Of Light

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Last Updated: May 20, 2020

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Pendant lighting ideas for kitchen islands

Amateur chefs and pros alike know the importance of a well-stocked and outfitted kitchen. Just like a dull knife can hinder even the most seasoned gourmet, sub-par lighting in the kitchen can take the act of cooking at home from a soothing ritual to a stress-filled chore. If your kitchen lighting is dull, outdated, and too dim to function, fear not! Shades of Light’s unique and stylish curated collection of pendant lights is here to help you design the kitchen of your dreams.

Pendant Lights vs. Other Kitchen Lighting Options

For the best experience in your kitchen, layering lighting suited for different purposes is essential to creating a space where you can comfortably carry out all those important kitchen tasks, from cooking to chatting with friends and bonding with family. You won’t unlock your kitchen’s potential with general ambient lighting, like kitchen ceiling lights or recessed lighting alone.

Ambient recessed kitchen lights vs. kitchen
pendant lights

Ambient recessed kitchen lighting vs. Layered kitchen pendant lighting

That’s where pendant lights come in! A kitchen lighting favorite, these fixtures light your kitchen work areas for culinary tasks and double as high-style statement makers. No other lighting fixture is better suited to light your countertops, kitchen sink, and dining tables than pendant lighting, and the stylistic options are endless, so you can cultivate a look that’s as unique as you are.

When styling the lighting in your kitchen, you’ll want to pay special attention to your kitchen island. Hanging multiple pendants over your kitchen island will ensure the space where you do the bulk of your culinary tasks will be well lit and easy to work within. Kitchen island chandeliers are another solid option for task lighting in this area, as these fixtures can accomplish the same lightning needs while making a bold style statement—however, for some spaces, the versatility and customization options inherent to individual pendant lighting is preferred.


Kitchen island pendants vs. Kitchen island chandelier

Of course, while kitchen islands are one of the most popular places to hang pendant lights, these versatile fixtures can find a home just about anywhere you need targeted task lighting. If your kitchen doesn’t have an island or if you’re searching for other areas in your house that could use a pendant pick-me-up, these style tips and tricks are just the ticket to help you turn your home into a Pinterest-worthy paradise!

Rule of Threes: Hanging Pendant Lights Over a Kitchen Island

Rule of threes for hanging pendant lights over island

When hanging pendant lights over a kitchen island, there is lots of room for customization, but a good rule of thumb is to stick with three pendants in a group. Grouping your fixtures in threes will give your space a sense of balance and refinement that creates a pleasing aesthetic. To achieve this look, consider larger or oversized pendants for longer islands and slimmer silhouettes for smaller islands. Ensure the fixtures you choose can be spaced evenly along your island without the shade overhanging the countertop on either end; generally, it’s a good idea to leave at least six inches of clearance at both ends. Space your pendants so that the light spread cast on the countertop overlaps, as unlit sections of counter space make kitchen tasks harder.

You can raise your lamp higher to help create a wider spread but hanging the fixture too high will diminish the brightness of the light. While the rule of three is an aesthetically pleasing common practice, it serves more as a good place to start than a design imperative in the case of kitchen island pendant lighting. Here are a few common practices and ideas to take into account when deciding how to arrange pendant lights over your kitchen island.

• If the kitchen island features seating, you may want to hang one mini pendant centered to each seat.

• Choosing to hang only two larger chandeliers or multi-light pendants is also an increasingly popular way to add some flair to your kitchen.

• If you have a longer island or a bar-style countertop to light, or the pendants you fall in love with have slim shades, hanging four or more could be the best fit for your style and space.

• If you use your kitchen island primarily for cooking, several smaller single pendant lights with narrower shades can help target the light on your workspace.

• Conversely, if you use your island primarily for entertaining, pendants with larger shades can help disperse the light for a more intimate, cozy feel—just be sure the shades don’t obstruct your view!

There is no single answer for how to pair pendants with your kitchen island, so you have lots of room to get creative!

5 Places to Hang Pendants Other Than Your Kitchen Island

While kitchen islands are certainly one of the most popular places to position a pendant, these hanging lights can make an appearance anywhere in your home in need of stylish, dedicated task lighting. Some of our favorite pendant light locations include:

1. Above the kitchen sink. Kitchen sinks see just as much traffic as the countertops, so hanging a pendant over the kitchen sink is a great way to bring some style to this dedicated work area.

2. The porch or patio. Outdoor pendant lights are perfect for lighting your front door or covered back porch.

3. The bathroom or powder room. Bathroom pendant lights are a super chic alternative to traditional bathrooms vanity lights and are particularly good for kids' bathrooms (so you can adjust the height of the light over the years) or for vanities with oversized mirrors.

4. The master bedroom. Hanging one bedroom pendant light over each nightstand frees up table space and offers an uber stylish alternative to traditional table lamps. For more bedroom lighting solutions, refer to our bedroom chandelier ideas.

5. The foyer or entryway. If your foyer isn’t big enough for a chandelier or lantern, a foyer pendant light is the perfect way to light up shadowy walkways.

Pendant Lighting Colors, Styles, and Shapes

Once you know where you want to hang your pendants, the real fun begins! Pendant lights represent a hugely diverse and varied lighting category and no matter your needs, you’ll have lots of options to refine your look. These lights can be simple, elegant, and understated, or strikingly bold and brash, and everything in between so you can craft a look that’s quintessentially you.

While the vast range of options available for pendant lighting is half the fun, so many different styles and looks can be overwhelming too! That’s why we’ve carefully curated our collection of pendant lights at Shades of Light, so you can be sure to find a highly stylish light to fit your space. Check out some of our favorite style recommendations—and the Shades of Light Customers who have used them—below!

If you want: Sleek, minimal, and understated decor looks
Search our: Modern Pendants and Industrial Pendants! These fixtures use minimalist silhouettes and metallic finishes to create a refined look. Modern pendants tend to use finishes in silver tones with sleek designs, while industrial pendants use dark or raw finishes and tend to have a more rugged aesthetic.

Industrial Caged Pendant with Rivets

Shades of Light Customer Review: Verified buyer, Jeffery, says these industrial pendants “work perfectly in [his] modern kitchen.”


If you want: Task lighting that doubles as ambient light, doesn’t impede the view over a kitchen island or bar, and trendy options for smaller spaces
Search our: Clear glass pendant lights! Clear glass pendant lights are having a definite moment right now, but this look is chic enough and practical enough to supersede mere trend. Glass shades are timeless, and clear glass (or seedy glass for a bit of vintage charm) allows lots of light out into the room without blocking any views. Clear glass pendants are great for opening up smaller spaces or for maintaining the airiness of an open concept design. This pendant category also offers lots of colorful pendant light options. Blue pendant lights are great for nautical or coastal rooms. Green pendant lights add an earthy vibe. Pink pendant lights evoke a soft, contemporary feel. Orange pendant lights accent vibrant, eclectic rooms.

Strata Art Glass Pendant Light

Shades of Light Customer Review: Verified buyer, David, loves these glass pendants saying, “These are amazing! They are thick blown glass that look like art pieces”.


If you want: High style, dedicated illumination over a kitchen or dining table, and big impact in a single fixture
Search our: Drum Shade Pendant Lights! You’ll usually find these lights suspended over a table or in a foyer or bedroom where a traditional chandelier is just too big or dramatic to fit. These fixtures are available in a range of styles, but the classic drum shape has a timeless contemporary appeal.


Shades of light Customer Review: Verified buyer, Sheila, hung this drum shade pendant above a dining room table and says she "couldn’t have come across a more perfect fixture!”


If you want: To bring elements of nature inside and embrace vintage charm
Search our: Rustic Pendants! Raw and galvanized finishes, cloudy, wavy, and seedy glass, and rope and unfinished wood accents take the spotlight in this décor style. Use these pendants to complement quaint countryside character and farmhouse chic appeal.


Shades of light Customer Review: Verified buyer, Carole, says these pendants “are gorgeous” and used them to illuminate a kitchen island!

Pendant Light Size Guide

When you’re ready to hang your pendant lights, the height of the fixture can have a dramatic impact on your lighting experience. Hang your lights too high, and you may dilute the light you need for your workspace, but hang them too low and they can block views or serve as a hazard as you move about your kitchen tasks.

To find the proper pendant light length, first determine the height of your ceilings. The base of the pendant shade should hang roughly twelve to twenty inches below the ceiling for eight foot ceilings—and you can add three inches for every additional foot of ceiling height over eight feet. Alternatively, the base of the shade should fall thirty to thirty six inches above your table or countertop. Make sure your pendants don’t block your view—ideally pendants suspended over work areas will fall just above eye level.

Many pendants are hung with adjustable cord or chain, making installation simpler if you are searching for pendant lights for high ceilings or pendant lights for low ceilings. However, some pendants achieve a sleeker look with downrods instead of cord. These pendants will usually have some adjustability by adding or removing sections of the downrod, but the height of these fixtures will not be quite as versatile as fixtures hung with cord alone. If the pendant you prefer is hung with downrod, check the overall maximum and minimum height and the included downrods to be sure your pendant will fit in your space.


Pendant light with chain vs. Pendant light with downrod

Don’t forget to consult your electrician for all your lighting installation projects! This is particularly important for oversized pendants or pendants with concrete shades. Most pendant lights are small and not very heavy, but for circumstances where pendant light weight is a concern, it’s best to leave installation to the pros.

Choosing pendant light bulbs and hardware

The final step in choosing any light fixture is, of course, selecting the best light bulb for the job! Your options for pendant light bulbs depend on a few factors. First, check the bulb requirements for your pendant light hardware and be careful not to exceed the maximum recommended wattage. LED bulbs are always fantastic choices—they are energy efficient, long lasting, and have a lower wattage output than traditional incandescent lights, so you’ll get the same amount of light at a lower wattage. The best light bulbs for pendants in the kitchen are in the 3000-4000k color range (often described as soft white, cool white, or bright white). Install dimmers to bring the light down when kitchen tasks are done. If your pendants have an open shade, a clear shade, or otherwise feature exposed bulbs, vintage Edison bulbs or bulbs with a decorative filament are a beautiful finishing touch.

Some pendants can also be further personalized with pendant light accessories. Shade diffusers can help disperse light. Cluster adaptors can turn single light pendants into multi light pendants. You can even combine certain pendant hardware and accessories to easily create your own one- of-a-kind look. The possibilities are endless!

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