Your Options For Kitchen Island Pendant Lights (Including Height And Spacing)

When most of us start making plans to renovate our kitchens, we go to the internet for inspiration.

There are plenty of stunning images of the kitchen island and pendant light combination on sites such as Pinterest, but if you want to execute this idea properly (and functionally), you need to get familiar with some important dimensions. 

Your Options for Kitchen Island Pendant Lights (Including Height and Spacing)

Before you install your kitchen island and purchase your pendant lights, you need to know how many lights you will need depending on the width of your kitchen island, and how the lights should be spaced.

You will also need to understand the distance you need between the pendant lights and the top of the counter. 

If you’re not sure about these factors, you’re in the right place. We’re going to be walking you through all of the above to help you create the kitchen of your dreams. 

8-Foot Vs 10-Foot Kitchen Islands: How Many Pendant Lights?

8 feet is a pretty standard size for a kitchen island, so this is the width that many people start with when trying to calculate how many pendant lights they should buy. 

If you are working with an 8-foot kitchen island, three small lights could work well, but if you have your heart set on larger pendant lights, you could go with two. 

Generally speaking, interior designers will tell you to go with three since this is considered to be the more visually appealing option, but this kind of thing is very subjective, so if you think you’d be happier with two larger pendant lights over your 8-foot island, that’s totally fine. 

10-foot islands are also quite common, and if you’re going for an island this wide, you’ll want at least 3 pendant lights most of the time. The exception would be if your lights were especially large, in which case, you might still be fine with two.

To clarify, by ‘large pendant lights’, we’re talking about lights that measure 25 inches minimum in diameter. Anything smaller than this, and we’d usually recommend three lights. 


Really, the important thing when it comes to pendant lighting over kitchen islands is to make sure that the lights are spaced out evenly.

This isn’t just because unevenly spaced lights look visually jarring, but because lights aren’t just there for decoration – they serve a purpose. You want your kitchen island to be evenly lit, and for that to be the case, the lights have to be spaced evenly. 

To work out the spacing and the sizes, we use a trick that has always served us well: balloons. It might sound strange, but helium balloons can be blown up to different sizes and are easy to move around, giving you an idea of where you should position your lights. 

As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend spacing two lights 30 inches apart, centering them off the island’s center. There should always be a clearance of 6 inches between the positioning of the light and the island’s edge. 

If you’re going to be installing 3 lights, you should still have the 6-inch clearance between the edge of the island and the light, and you’ll probably want at least 30 inches (up to 2 feet) between each light.

However, one light will be in the center of the island and the other two will be spaced equally on either side.


The last thing you want is low-hanging pendant lights causing a safety hazard every time you stand up from your kitchen island, but you also don’t want the lights to be too high up because this will affect their ability to illuminate the island clearly. 

You’ll want to leave between 30 and 36 inches between the light’s base and your countertop, but you also never want your pendant lights to be more than 72 inches from the floor.

This holds true regardless of how high your ceilings are, so don’t be tempted to install your lights higher than this just because you have high ceilings.

If anything, the higher your ceilings are, the lower you’ll want your lights to hang to prevent them from getting ‘lost’. 

Something you need to think about when positioning the height of your pendant lights is sight lines. You never want your lights to block your sight lines since this can be really annoying. 

How Big Should Kitchen Island Pendant Lights Be?

How big you want your pendant lights to be is entirely up to you – within reason. The size you choose will depend on how many lights you want as well as the width of your kitchen island. 

However, if you’re going to have two lights, it’s best for them to be about 25 inches in diameter, especially if you have a longer (10-foot) kitchen island.

Alternatively, for an 8-foot kitchen island, you may prefer smaller lights, particularly if you’re planning on installing 3 rather than 2. 

What You Should Know About Ceiling Height

What You Should Know About Ceiling Height 

We’ve already briefly discussed ceiling height, but this is a really important factor that deserves its own section, especially since so many people instinctively try to compensate for high ceilings by hanging their lights higher up (which is the wrong thing to do). 

Most of the time, a couple of inches difference in ceiling height won’t really change how low you should hang your pendant lights.

However, if you have a really high ceiling like a cathedral ceiling, for example, you’ll want to take this into account and make adjustments accordingly.

Don’t hang your lights higher just because your ceiling is higher – just make sure you can hang them low enough that they hover above 72 inches from the floor and 30 inches from the counter. 

The same height measurements apply for regular ceilings (about 8 feet). Try to stick to the measurements regardless of the height of your ceiling. 

Do The Finishes Have To Match The Hardware?

When renovating your kitchen, you obviously want everything to look like it belongs in the same room and ensure that the decor doesn’t look mismatched.

However, trying to make the decor look seamless can lead people to worry too much about things like matching light finishes to hardware and appliances. 

Remember that your kitchen is exactly that – yours. You should go with what looks most pleasing to you and feels like an expression of your own style, rather than what others tell you to do when it comes to aesthetics. 

If you’re a minimalist person who loves symmetry and wants everything to match, you may prefer to match your pendant lights to your hardware.

However, it can also be nice to make your lights stand out from the rest of the decor since this will help them to make a statement rather than blending in.

You can also compromise here by matching your lights to some smaller items in your kitchen rather than making them blend in with larger furnishings.

For example, if you have white cabinets and gold faucets, you may wish to use gold pendant lights so the gold color is replicated in small ways throughout the room, complementing (but not matching) the rest of your furnishings. 

Ultimately, though, it’s totally up to you and you shouldn’t feel constrained by trends or rules.

Final Thoughts 

You will want to hang either 2 or 3 pendant lights above your kitchen island. This will depend on the size of the lights you want and the size of your kitchen island. For a smaller island with larger lights, use 2 pendant lights. For a larger island with smaller lights, go with 3.

Try to keep your lights 72 inches off the ground regardless of the height of your ceiling and space the lights at least 30 inches apart, with 6 inches of clearance from the edge of the island for the best results.

Joel Adams
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