Kitchen island lighting for your home

Everley pendant kitchen lighting ideas

If you’re planning a redesign of your hub of the home, it’s probably time to consider your kitchen island lighting. I really think this should play a crucial part in the whole planning processing. However, all too often, the way you illuminate your space can end up being an afterthought, whichever room it’s intended for. So, choose your kitchen island lighting wisely and, with a bit of planning, it will help to accommodate a whole host of activities. For example, you may require task lighting for prepping veggies on the worktop and a more ambient glow on an evening for a G&T with friends. So, follow my top tips and expert advice on what to look for to make the right choice for your hub of the home:

Essential planning

I think you should always consider your kitchen island lighting at the start of your design process. Whether you want it to light your worktop or perhaps your sink or hob, there are a variety of activities where this illumination will be key in creating a fully functional kitchen. Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky agrees: “The kitchen island has evolved into the central hub around which daily life operates. So make sure that lighting is part of the plan from the very start as retrospective planning can sometimes lead to compromise. If you want beautiful designer pendants hanging over your island, or more functional LED lights built into recesses of your island cabinets, these options all need to be considered. Then, you can make sure the installation is feasible, as well as light levels balanced right from the outset.”

Pooky NEW Odin chandelier, £580 for kitchen island lighting ideas
If you’re looking for a statement lighting scheme, this could be it. From Pooky, their new Odin chandelier, £580, could transform your kitchen in an instant. It features more than 400 glass rods with a double tier of brass and I absolutely love it!

The importance of kitchen island lighting

Graeme Smith, head of retail and design at Life Kitchens, tells me: “Lighting is so important in a kitchen scheme and there are many ways to include this in an island. Direct task lighting from above is crucial and this normally comes from ceiling spotlights situated above the furniture. However, you could include internal lighting within this. Drawer lights or lighting inside cabinets can help illuminate certain tasks, for example. Task lighting brings an extra element of practicality to your kitchen, ensuring that specific areas are well illuminated.”

He also offers this advice: “A beautiful pendant can look striking suspended over an island. Pendant feature lighting can create a focal point in a kitchen and add to the task lighting. Great for food prep, reading recipes and enjoying a family meal seated at an island, task lighting will prove to be a valuable aspect of your kitchen’s design.  You can include mood lighting with the specification of under-worktop or plinth lighting. This can add drama and luxury to a scheme whilst creating the impression of airiness or a sense of floating. Try a dimmer, which you can adjust to suit any ambience. Back-lit worktop pieces can also add elegance to breakfast bar areas. This will give the island a warmer, furniture-led aesthetic and soften the link between kitchen and living/dining environments.”

Life Kitchens - Seamless kitchen island lighting ideas
This gorgeous kitchen, Seamless Look, by Life Kitchens, features an industrial-style pendant with a matt black aesthetic which is bang on trend in modern kitchen design. Kitchens start from £30,000. For a similar light with gold accents, try the Mullan Casla double pendant light, £200

Size matters

I’d consider the size and shape of your island unit and the room itself. The key is to choose illumination, which will be in proportion to the space you have. If your kitchen island lighting is too small, it may look somewhat lost in your scheme. However, if your light fittings are too big, they could overwhelm your room.

If you’re looking for pendants, a general sizing guide for kitchen island lighting is to measure the length and width of your island in feet. Then simply subtract 12 inches from both. Add these new dimensions together and, hey presto, this should give you the allowable width in inches for each pendant. I recently spoke to Marketa Rypacek, managing director at Industville about the size and arrangement for kitchen island lighting. She tells me: “This completely depends on the size of your kitchen and island dimensions, as well as the overall look you want to achieve. One of the most common mistakes with island lighting is that people go too small. I advise customers to consider using a cluster of several smaller pendants either arranged in a traditional line or various heights, as this will create an impressive and interesting display.”

Brooklyn 5 Wire Pendant in kitchen
Just look at the wonderfully striking Brooklyn 5 wire pendant light, £159, from Industville. Featuring a 2m black round fabric flex per drop, it includes the ceiling rose and it’s so versatile you can attach the lights to Industville shades. Image: @allangateswestwing

Marketa agrees that kitchen lighting can often be an afterthought when it’s important to research and invest in quality lighting. She is a big fan of pendant lighting and adds: “Hanging pendant lights above an island is a popular trend that is set to continue and is a great way to create a statement in your kitchen. Industrial-style pendant lights are ideal for this as they suit any era and style of home, providing a modern-rustic update. Not only are pendant lights attractive, they also provide functionality for tasks such as reading recipes and food preparation.”

Kitchen island lighting for different needs

Kitchen makeover with island unit taking centre stage
These three pendant lights come from John Lewis and we chose three to light up the space with a dimmer switch to make them versatile for every occasion. These are no longer available but you can buy similar from Industville here

In my open-plan kitchen, I use my island for all sorts of things. I tend to prep food here and cook on the hob, so I need plenty of illumination for both activities. I also use our breakfast bar for grabbing a snack or some lunch. And this can double up as a great entertaining space for guests who will gather round at a dinner party. Therefore, I need ambient lighting, too. So, my point is, kitchen island lighting needs to work for a variety of purposes and it’s worth thinking about this carefully before you even look at the style you require. Perhaps you want to use this central space to work from home or you may want to catch up with the family here after a busy day.

Ben Marshall, creative director at Hudson Valley Lighting, describes the kitchen as a place for cooking, cleaning, eating, talking and working. I completely agree and, for me, this space really is the heart of my home. He explains: “While cooking and cleaning remain the central work of the kitchen, it also serves as both social site and hub of household activity. From helping the kids with homework to balancing a checkbook, entertaining to eating, a layered lighting plan means you’ll never be left in the lurch, whatever the situation is in this dynamic space.”

Ambient and task kitchen island lighting

Everley pendant kitchen lighting ideas
I hear the Everley pendant light by multi award-winning interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard for the Hudson Valley Lighting Group, was inspired by a pearl earring once belonging to Liz Taylor. Featuring a vintage brass finish, it looks so striking as a pair in this kitchen don’t you think? Priced from £802 each from Luxdeco

Ben adds: “The going trend for many years was to have can (recessed) lights in the ceiling or track lighting mounted there to serve as the ambient layer. But you can have a decorative ambient layer, whether it’s through installing a matching set of semi flush-mounts or a chandelier above an adjacent dining area. Lantern-style pendants over the island might also do the trick.

“You could make the argument that all lighting in the kitchen is task lighting. Pendants or a linear light over the island lights food prep. An articulated sconce or one-light pendant above the kitchen sink provides task light for cleaning dishes while adding a touch of decorative beauty. Even sconces above open shelving serve a function.

Height and how many?

When I was looking for my kitchen lighting, I didn’t want to obstruct my views into the living area and further afield out to the garden. So this was one of the factors I took into account. Don’t forget to think about the role your pendants will have too. If you’re planning on task lighting, you will want it to clearly illuminate the island. So, you would probably want them to hang around 30 or so inches above your worktop. If this will be in your line of vision, you may want a smaller design. If you want to position your lighting higher then why not choose a shade with a smaller opening at the base, so the light is directed below, not into your eyes?

I chose three pendant lights for my kitchen. However, I think one light fitting which features two lights can look particularly striking, especially when positioned above an island.

Arteriors X Ray Booth Pantograph Pendant £3,540 kitchen island lighting
I just love Arteriors X-ray booth pantograph pendant, £3,540. Finished in aged bronze with linen shades, designer Ray Booth has combined tension and dynamics to create this unique design. There is also some movement in terms of the width between the two shades

The practicalities

Lastly, think about where to position your switches and whether you want to control the power of your lighting. If you have an open-plan kitchen, you may want to place two sets of switches at either end so you can use them more easily. I think it’s worth considering a dimmer switch to operate your kitchen island lighting too. This way you can control the brightness according to differing needs. Just make sure the lighting you choose is designed to work with this feature first.

If you’d like to see how I created my open-plan kitchen, follow this link here.

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