Tips on How to Choose & Space Pendant Lights Above a Kitchen Island

One question that always comes up in kitchen design is how many pendant lights to hang above a kitchen island and how high to hang them and how to determine the spacing between them.  Yes, yes I know, that’s really three questions. Here’s the deal… there’s not a one size fits all answer, primarily because not all kitchens are the same nor are their islands. There are however,  a few basic guidelines you can use to help you find the best options for you.

 If you have a smaller island, centering just a couple pendants equidistant apart above the island is usually best. For long, sprawling islands, three or more pendants may be required to adequately illuminate the space. The rest of the measurements really depend on the size of the pendants, the size of the island and how many pendants you plan to use.

As for their positioning, it’s usually best to hang them approximately 30-36 inches above your island. I find this measurement to be about the only hard rule for pendant lights. The diameter of the pendant and the height of the ceiling play a role in determining where the bottom of the light ends up. You just have to step back and eyeball it. It’s up to you to decide the final height based on your personal preference. After you have determined the height to hang your pendants over an island, you need to determine what size pendant light to use, how many to use, and how far to space them. As a general rule of thumb, measure the width of the island and subtract by 12 to determine the maximum width your lighting should be.


How high to hang pendant lights above an island

Photo Credit to Circa Lighting


The ideal distance between each island pendant light will depend on the length of your island. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to leave at least 30 inches of space between each pendant to keep the lights from looking cluttered. You can shorten this amount for smaller kitchen islands or lengthen it to accommodate larger spaces as needed. The edge of the pendants shouldn’t be any closer than 6 inches from the edge of the island and no more than 18 inches.



How far apart to space pendant lights above an island

Photo credit to Circa Lighting


For spacing pendant lights over an island, first find the center point of the island. A smaller island, say 4 or 5 feet, will only require two pendants. You’ll want to find the center point on the island and then space the lights 30-36 inches apart with the widest part of the pendant being 30 inches from the other pendant. If you have a larger island that requires three pendants, you want to hang the first pendant directly over the midline of the island and then hang the other two at least 30 inches apart. Remember though, don’t get closer than 6 inches to the edge.


Hanging lights above a smaller island


One trick I employ, is to mock up my pendants using either balloons or styrofoam balls on strings. Im super visual, so I find this method both helpful and reassuring. It’s no fun at all drilling holes in the ceiling in the wrong place. So, better safe than sorry.


How to decide height of pendant lights over a kitchen island

My final tip is to make sure to consider your sight lines both into and out of the kitchen. Before determining the final height make sure to adjust the pendants to insure you’re not obstructing any sight lines.

Remember, we’re here to help when you need us.


Lots of love,


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These tips are very helpful to choose the right light fixture size for your kitchen. Thank you so much.

Tom Hillman // March 1, 2021

Very helpful. The visuals are great. My kitchen island is 118 inches long. I was debating between 2 large pendants or 3 medium. I am going with the 3. Hoping the placement I provided the contractor works.

Wendy Gronich // December 14, 2020

[…] There are no hard rules to pendant lighting, but there are some helpful hints we can share.  We have a whole blog post about pendant light heights and spacing for best results that you can check out […]

The New "It" Light – Pendant Lights Take Center Stage – Design Directions // November 13, 2020

Hi Hana, I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. Our contact page was down for a while. We can order those lights for you if you like. The are $765 each.

valerie // November 3, 2020

Can you tell me where to buy those lights in your first picture, the cylindrical one with what looks likes glass or crystal?

Hana Santos // October 10, 2020

Im sorry I site was loading slowly. I do appreciate your visiting us though. We did make some tweaks after seeing your message. Please let me know if it helped.

valerie // June 6, 2020

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