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Choosing The Right Island Light For Your Kitchen Island

In recent years, kitchen islands have become more and more popular, especially in large kitchens with open floorplans. But upping the size of your kitchen – and especially introducing a secondary workspace like a kitchen island – means you’ll need more and better lighting. Some kitchen islands are used for prep, some for seating, and some are even designed with built in sinks or range tops, all of which need more than just your standard overhead lighting. Here are a few different styles to help you get the most out of your kitchen island.

Island Light

Sousa 4-Light Island Light From Elk Lighting
Sousa 4-Light Island Light From Elk Lighting

Shop Island Lighting by Elk Lighting:

Perhaps the first and most obvious choice for lighting a kitchen island is an island light. In the same general family as billiards lights, these are lights that hang down from the ceiling to a comfortable, slightly-overhead height and are typically long with at least four separate lights, either under individual glass shades, or hidden behind a larger rectangular shade. These range from simple and starkly minimal, like this beautiful modern Sousa Light from ELK Lighting to highly decorative designs.

Vetraio 3 Light Kitchen Island Light From Uttermost
Vetraio 3 Light Kitchen Island Light From Uttermost

Island lights like this Vetraio Light from Uttermost are designed to be long specifically so they can light a rectangular space like a kitchen island. These are especially good if you intend to use your kitchen island for seating, but also offer adequate task lighting for a prep station or range top. You want to make sure, though, that the light is centered over the island, high enough that it won’t be affected by heat coming up from a cooktop and that you won’t be in danger of bumping your head.

Shop Island Lighting by Uttermost:

Pendant Lighting

Billiards Section Pendant Lights From Landmark Lighting
Billiards Section Pendant Lights From Landmark Lighting

If you have a kitchen island that’s especially large or especially small, pendant lighting might be a better choice than a more traditional island light. You see, while island lights usually come in attached threes, fours, and fives, pendant lights can be purchased – and installed – separately, allowing you more control to place the lights you want where they’re needed. This is incredibly important in creating well layered lighting, as you have much more freedom to control the circles of illumination created by each light and how they overlap. Especially with an odd shaped island or bar, something like these Billiards Pendants from Landmark Lighting allow you to follow the contours of your space to light it evenly.

Shop Pendants by Landmark Lighting:

Franklin Creek Pendant Light From Landmark Lighting
Franklin Creek Pendant Light From Landmark Lighting

On the flip side, not all kitchen islands are sprawling in size or made to seat a crowd. For a small prep station, adequate lighting is just as important, but a big island light or even a chandelier can be overkill. In that case, too, pendants are a great solution. Just a single decorative pendant – like this Franklin Creek Pendant – can add a nice sense of style to your space while providing just the right amount of light.

Chandelier

Medford Five Light Chandelier From Landmark Lighting
Medford Five Light Chandelier From Landmark Lighting

Then again, sometimes the lighting you choose is less about utility and more about style. Island lights are designed to give good all-over lighting, and pendants are flexible to install, but chandeliers will win it for style nine times out of ten. Something like this simplified yet traditional Medford Chandelier is a nice choice if you have a higher ceiling. And in a kitchen where your island is where you eat primarily, or at least often, a more traditional chandelier can give you something of the feel of a dining room but with a much more modern kitchen layout.

Shop Chandeliers by Landmark Lighting:

Newton Six Light Chandelier From Elk Lighting
Newton Six Light Chandelier From Elk Lighting

Shop Chandeliers by Elk Lighting:

If you’re looking for something a little more modern, this Newton Chandelier definitely fits the bill – with chrome and glass and hard angles that help add a contemporary sophistication to this very sleek, very minimalist kitchen. If you happen to have a gas cooktop rather than an electric or induction cooktop, you might want to opt for a slightly modified version of this option, with a chandelier-style range hood that offers ductless ventilation, ambient lighting, and a whole lot more style than you might expect from a two-in-one design.

What type of light will be right for your kitchen island depends a lot on its size and shape as well as how you use it. What type of style do you like best paired with a kitchen island?