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How to Choose the Right Pendant Lights for Your Kitchen Island
The Right Lighting & Design For Your Kitchen

When it comes to kitchen lighting, pendant lights are not only practical, they are often a key design element for your décor.

These are the lights that hang above your kitchen island, providing direct illumination for all the food preparation, cooking, and entertaining you do in that space. Pendant lights come in a variety of sizes and styles, so you can customize the lighting to meet both your kitchen needs and your design preferences.

Function

If you’re looking to choose the perfect pendant lights for your kitchen, your first step should be to determine what function you want your lighting to achieve.

To do this, you should consider what kind of lighting is already available in your kitchen.  Do you have many large windows that provide plenty of illumination during the daytime but will need to be supplemented once the sun goes down?   What kind of overhead lighting is currently in your kitchen and how much control do you have to make it brighter if necessary? And how much lighting do you really need, and where?  Once you know both how much lighting you have and how much you want, you can then choose pendant lights to bridge the difference.

Pendant lights can be categorized into three basic functions: targeted lighting, ambient lighting, and decorative fixtures.

1.Targeted Lighting

These directed lights illuminate a small, specific area and can help you achieve precision tasks.

Where on your kitchen island do you do most of your slicing, dicing, chopping, and other food preparation?  Where do you place the recipes you need to read as you work?  These are spots where you may want to have extra light.

Look for fixtures that aim light downward with an open or translucent bottom that focuses the light toward a specific spot.  You may want to choose fixtures with a dimmer feature, so you can control the exact amount of light you get.

2.Ambient Lighting

As its name suggests, this kind of lighting is more general, providing an ambiance for the entire room.

If you want your pendant lighting to help illuminate your whole room, it’s often not the size but the number and placement of bulbs that matters. Depending on the configuration of your space, you may want to hang multiple lights across the area or choose a fixture with multiple bulbs to create a wide, even glow.

If you use your island primarily for eating and entertaining, you may want to take a cue from restaurants and choose softer mood lighting.

3.Decorative Fixtures 

Maybe your kitchen already has all the light it needs. If you have large windows and existing targeted and ambient lighting from other sources, then you can choose pendant lights whose primary function is to add a decorative touch.

Some pendant lights create interesting shadows on the ceiling.  This can be particularly impressive if you have high or vaulted ceilings or architectural features like wooden ceiling beams that would be enhanced by the light design.

Design

Once you know the purpose of your pendant lighting, then it’s time to consider the design aesthetics.

Often, pendant lights will not be the only hanging feature that is visible in your space. This is especially true in open concept homes, but even more traditional kitchens will frequently have pendants that play a more supporting role to a nearby chandelier or other large light fixture.

Some homeowners try to match their lighting across different spaces. Others prefer to showcase contrasting styles.  Design experts do recommend you limit yourself to just two types of lighting visible at any point in the home, otherwise you run the risk of having your space look like a chaotic lighting store showroom.

When choosing your light fixtures, one good tip is to try to match them to other materials in the space. If you have a stainless-steel faucet or copper cabinet knobs, try incorporating the same elements in your pendant lighting.  You could even try to match the colors of countertops, backsplash tiles, or kitchen furniture fabrics. This integration will bring your whole design concept together in a way that is attractive and modern.

For more design inspiration, check out Going Lighting’s collection of pendant lights, including these featured in our current Spring sale!