Kitchen Island Lighting Ideas
The modern kitchen has become a natural gathering space as the popular “open concept” remains a staple of interior design. Because it’s a room where many events take place, from workday breakfasts to large-scale entertaining, kitchen lighting is perhaps more important than any other room of the home. Not only must there be adequate ambient light, but task lighting is also key when dealing with sharp knives, boiling water, and other common kitchen jobs. We’ll take you through some tips for getting the light just right in the busiest room in the house.
Often, a kitchen island is rectangular in shape to fit in the kitchen while allowing for easy movement or chairs and stools placed around the block. A linear suspension light is the perfect complement for this shape of island, shining even light along the entire length. Shown: Talo LED Suspension Light by Artemide
In a very long, galley-style kitchen with an expansive island, use two identical linear suspensions mounted side by side to cover your counter from edge to edge in light. This is a modern, streamlined look that can be very dramatic or quite understated depending on the fixture you choose.
Shown: After 8 Linear Pendant Light by Molto Luce
Some linear suspension lights come in the form of multi-light fixtures. This gives the look of many pendants or even a chandelier-like effect with the convenience of installing just one fixture. Some are adjustable at the time of installation so you can customize your look. Shown: Bling Linear Suspension Light by LBL Lighting
Multi-light linear suspensions save you having to measure every inch between lights. But you’ll find linear suspension lights in many varying sizes, so choose one that leaves some space at each end of the island for a balanced look. Aim for having your light fixture(s) take up ⅔ to ¾ the length of the island. Shown: Cielo 3 Pendant Chandelier by Pablo Designs
Another great benefit of linear suspension lights is that great ones are designed with an even flow of light built right into the fixture. It takes the pressure off your measuring skills by ensuring each light on the line has a beam that overlaps for uninterrupted illumination. Shown: Suspenders 36 Inch 1 Tier Linear 5 Light LED Suspension System by SONNEMAN Lighting
You may find well-designed lights add more than just downlighting for tasks. As with any ambient or double-duty lighting, install the fixture on its own dimmer switch for total mood control. While you may not be able to control individual lights on the fixture itself, being able to lower the whole light comes in handy for adjusting the overall atmosphere. Shown: Suspenders 36 Inch 3 Bar Offset Linear 9 Light LED Suspension System by SONNEMAN Lighting
Linear suspension lights like these may have fewer lights built in, but the beam spread of the LED panels still provides even coverage. LED lights allow for the thinnest possible panels in lighting design, so there’s a look out there for every design aesthetic. Shown: Brevis LED Linear Pendant Light by Cerno
While slim LED panels might be the latest technology, and are capable of futuristic or unusual shapes and configurations, you can still find many designs with a warm, more classic look. LEDs don’t produce the same amount of heat as incandescent lights, so you’ll find many real wood designs that were never before possible.
Shown: Vix 5 Light LED Linear Pendant Light by Cerno
Pendant lighting is also a popular choice for lighting islands. If you’re at a loss for arranging pendants, good rule of thumb is to hang them in odd-numbered groupings. Although this doesn’t have to be the case, groupings of three or five are common and simple to achieve; you can measure from the center of the island to find your thirds or fifths. Shown: Alina Grande Pendant Light by Tech Lighting
When selecting pendants for a linear configuration, feel free to select different silhouettes and hang the fixtures at varying heights. How much you want them to match is up to your style; more eclectic aesthetics can get away with a lot of shapes or colors, while a more modern look might stick to just a few variations. Shown: Tom Dixon Beat Light Collection
The rule of threes or fives won’t always apply, depending on the size of your favorite fixture. Keep proportions in mind, always leaving a bit of space at the edges of the island that isn’t covered by lighting. This will keep the lights out of your way when walking around, and give the room a balanced look. Shown: Inari Pendant Light by Bover
An island is a feature unto itself, but there’s no reason not to call a little more attention to the area. Even a monochromatic modern kitchen can benefit from a brightening bit of color in the island lighting, setting the space apart that much more with interest and cheer.
Shown: Pharos Transparent Pendant Light by Niche
Monorail lighting lets you choose wide-beam spots and decorative pendants on one easily installed fixture. Plus, many track and monorail heads (the little lights) are repositionable even after installation.
Shown: Brim Directional MonoRail Head by Tech Lighting
Track and monorail installations can also work in conjunction with existing pendant, recessed or flushmount lighting. Plus, the configuration can be styled to cover more of the island or, in the case of some rail lighting kits, in organic shapes that you create. Shown: Piper Pendant by Tech Lighting
Whatever light fixtures you select for the kitchen island, consider the functionality of your space above all else. An island with a cooktop or sink, for example, is best suited to lights that are hung higher than one that is used just for having breakfast or snacks. The kitchen is a task-heavy area and need lighting that helps, not hinders. Shown: Aim Multipoint Pendant Light by FLOS
An easily cleaned material is generally preferred in all kitchen areas, since steam and grease tend to find their way onto every surface. Bear this in mind when installing lighting over islands with stoves and sinks, and select nonporous materials that can withstand the occasional degreasing. And always check manufacturer recommendations for cleaning your fixtures. Shown: Goodman Pendant by Visual Comfort
Modern chandeliers are also possibilities over kitchen islands. Bear in mind the cleaning factor, and choose designs with simpler construction than the hundreds or thousands of crystal prisms common to traditional chandeliers. A chandelier will provide more ambient light than focused task lighting, so choose according to your needs. Shown: Agnes Chandelier - 10 Light by Roll & Hill
Some modern chandeliers have positionable arms, so you can swing the lights over as you need it or into different looks. A light like this might make doing tasks at the counter easier for smaller people or kids, while still giving the tall ample head room. Shown: Atelier Pendant Light by SONNEMAN Lighting
Because the light’s size will also determine how much of the countertop is illuminated, keep in mind that mini pendants and exposed-bulb pendant lighting may need some supplemental help to give you shadow-free coverage. This is less important for an eating space than it is for food preparation, but an even wash of light is generally preferred to spotlight and shadow effects. Shown: Non Random Light by Moooi
While your kitchen island might be a hot spot for tasks, daily living, and entertaining, there’s no need for hot spots in your lighting. Select lights that have a diffused or concealed light source to minimize glare and bright spots that detract from your overall design--this is especially important in an area with many lights concentrated in one place. Shown: 14.1 Single Pendant Light by Bocci
Depending on your kitchen size and layout, the island may be the showpiece of the room, and the lighting above it can (and dare we say, should) enhance the design accordingly. While much of the kitchen lighting might focus on function, the island area is a space where you can bridge that function with a form that speaks to you. Find more modern Kitchen Lighting Ideas for your home.
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When she’s not polishing up promotions as a Web Content Specialist, Kelsey is practicing how to properly pronounce Danish, if only to be able to say “home is where the ‘hygge’ is.” Aside from Scandinavian design, she spends a lot of time thinking about organic gardening, mini farms, honey bees and England.