How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights
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The kitchen island is rarely ever used for one activity only. In most homes it is a multipurpose space whose role changes depending on the occasion, time of day and changing family needs. Its various functions include being a breakfast area, a kitchen workspace, a cooking center or even a full dining space.

This versatility can make it a bit challenging to choose the right kitchen island lighting. Whatever lighting you choose has to be ideal for different situations from cooking to dining to food preparation and anything else that takes place on the kitchen island. At the same time, you have to make sure the lighting maintains the island’s aesthetics and complements the kitchen’s overall décor.

We’ve put together the best kitchen island lighting ideas to help you decide what would work best for you.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

Various Functions Of Lighting In The Kitchen

Your kitchen island can serve as a focal point for family dinners and socializing with guests over coffee, wine, or tea.

Before you go shopping, it’s critical to comprehend and know the purpose of your island lighting. What benefits will the light fixtures provide? Are they only decorative, or will they provide a necessary source of light in the kitchen?

Let us begin by defining the many purposes of lighting.

1. Task Lighting

Task lighting focuses on illuminating a specific area, such as the surface of your kitchen island, on assisting you to see clearly while working.
If you want your island pendants or chandeliers to illuminate kitchen duties such as meal preparation, consider a fixture that shines downwards. An open or translucent base will spread a lot of light across the island worktop.

Open-bottom fixtures can typically provide a glaring spotlight when coupled with bright bulbs. If you’ve installed a fixture and the light is too bright, you can replace it with a bulb with a lower lumen output.

You should also consider adding a dimmer, which will allow you to change the light levels to meet the environment’s needs at different times of the day.

2. Ambient

This is the standard lighting that illuminates the entire kitchen area. This is the inverse of task lighting.

Lighting on the island and at the breakfast bar can assist in brightening the entire space. Your first instinct may be to install a huge fixture. However, size is not always a good thing.

A large fixture with a single bulb will not always provide more light than a smaller fixture with the same bulb. To generate a balanced cast of light, consider employing many light fixtures distributed evenly throughout the space or lights that house multiple bulbs.

Pendants and chandeliers whose primary goal is to provide general illumination allow you to add decorative fixtures and a touch of your particular style to the space.

3. Accent

Accent lighting draws attention to particular characteristics in a room, such as artwork, certifications, or materials and textures.
Pendant and chandelier lighting are not traditionally utilized for accent lighting in the same manner that picture lights would illuminate a painting.
We usually invest a significant amount of time, money, and effort in selecting a beautiful countertop just to have it sit unnoticed. A light cast will assist bring out the many tones and textures. Accent lighting may draw attention to bits of glitter in flecked quartz and granite tops, as well as precise wood grains in carved countertop surfaces.

Now that you understand the purpose of your island and breakfast bar lighting, the following step is to choose a lighting design.

• Chandelier or pendant light?
• Vintage or industrial?
• Which material should you use? What’s better, glass or brass?

These are some critical questions you must ask yourself when looking at different light fixtures.

Overhead Pendants: The Most Versatile Lighting


With their dizzying variety of styles and designs, pendant lights provide both style and functionality. Whatever size and style of your island, there are plenty of kitchen island pendant lighting ideas to choose from.

The most important aspect of pendant lighting is the size and number. Simply put, a large kitchen island needs either more pendant lights or bigger ones while a smaller one needs fewer lights or smaller ones.

Start by getting an estimate size of your kitchen island. Simply measure the width and length of the kitchen island outline making sure to include stools and chairs if there are any. Then multiple the two numbers to get the square footage.

For proper illumination that is ideal for different situations including food preparation and casual chitchat, you’ll need around 30 Lumens per square foot. Lumens is a way to measure the amount of light given off by a bulb. It is a more reliable measure of brightness than watts.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

For an average kitchen island of 3 by 6 feet (18 square feet), you would need lighting that delivers 540 Lumens of light. A long island of 3 by 12 feet (36 square feet) needs twice the number of lumens – 1,080 lumens. Of course the number doesn’t have to be exact, just stick close to it.  If there are too many Lumens of light being given off, the light will be harsh and uncomfortable. Going too low will leave the surface dark and shadowy.

The choice now is up to you: a single bright pendant light or several less bright ones that deliver roughly the same brightness. For instance, you can install a single long LED panel to cast enough light on a long kitchen island. Or you can opt for a three pendants arranged linearly. For smaller kitchen islands, one or two pendants should be adequate.

While you are here, check this out:  Cozy Nook Ideas You’ll Want in Your Home

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

Recessed Lighting: For a Clean Yet Functional Style

Pendants are great and all, but some homeowners are not big fans of them. They see the hanging fixtures as unnecessary clutter that causes friction with the existing clean kitchen décor. If you are looking for a cleaner look while maintaining functionality, try recessed kitchen island lights. They can be especially great for low ceilings where a hanging pendant would be too low.

The most important part of recessed lights is the housing. This is the component that holds the bulb and trim. There are different types of housing depending on your specific situation. New construction housing is ideal when you are building a new home while remodel housing is great for renovations. There also other types including airtight housing, shallow ceiling housing and slope ceiling housing. Make sure you choose the right one for your project.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

The other component is the trim. This is the part that extends outside the housing and serves mostly aesthetic purposes. They may also be used for functional purposes such as reducing glare or focusing the light from the bulb. Some trim examples include ribbed trim, eyeball trim and wall wash trim.

Finally there is the light itself. Here your choices are low voltage and line voltage kits. Line voltage kits are the standard. They connect directly to your home current flow. They are compatible with ordinary dimmers. Low voltage systems require transformers to reduce voltage. They save energy but are more expensive and need special dimmers.

As for the size, small 3 or 5 inch lights are better at providing focused lighting on the kitchen island.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

Chandeliers: Grandeur from Above

If you need people’s eyes to be drawn above immediately they enter the kitchen, a chandelier is what you need. In fact, you can use a chandelier to set the kitchen island apart from the rest of the kitchen. The design is essential when choosing a good chandelier. It needs to match the overall décor of the room. Be especially careful not to overpower other focal points of the kitchen such as the backsplash, the hood or the kitchen island itself.

The size is also important. While chandeliers are meant to be sizable and eye catching, make sure your final choice is not too big that it swallows up everything under it.  Browse through several chandelier styles until you find the one that is best for your kitchen island.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

Under-cabinet LEDs for Ambient Lighting

Under-cabinet lighting is mostly used under wall cabinets to provide illumination on the counter workspace below. Although it will not serve the same purpose when used in a kitchen island, it has other benefits. Most notable, it provides ambient lighting when the main overhead light is switched off. Under-cabinet LED strips or panels cast a soft light around the kitchen island, keeping the area lit when not in use. You can even leave under-cabinet lighting on when the entire kitchen lights are off. It creates a nice look and allows people to pop in and out of the kitchen without having to switch on the main lights. You can install the lighting under the kitchen island counter or under the cabinets close to the floor.

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Island Lights

There is no shortage of kitchen island lighting ideas to choose from. The best type and design of island lighting depends on your budget, kitchen island size, kitchen décor and personal tastes.