Design Guide: Kitchen Island Lighting Ideas and Planning

Kitchen Island Lighting Ideas

The lighting for a kitchen island will vary depending on how the island is used.  Bright and localized lighting (task lighting) is necessary if the island is used for a high number of tasks such as: food preparation, doing paperwork, kids homework, or household projects. However, if you only use it as a place to have breakfast or for an after-school snack, softer lighting (ambient lighting) will do. So the question is: where do you lie on the ambient lighting/task lighting line:

kitchen lighting design plan

Knowing where you lie on this ambient/task line will help in choosing what kitchen island lighting fixtures to use

There is a vast array of kitchen lighting fixtures that you can choose from, and those who are searching for kitchen island lighting ideas may wish to consider the following.


What lights to use for a comfortable kitchen island ambient setting

If you are using the kitchen island causally, i.e. quick meals, and not for tasks then general ambient lighting will provide the right level of lighting. Ambient lighting in a kitchen will include general ceiling lights such as recessed lighting.

recessed lights

Recessed Lighting

Recessed light fixtures are not visible at first glance, as they are installed into openings within the kitchen’s ceiling. These lights typically offer a soft glow, and work well in a modern styled kitchen. The standard size for this type of light is approximately six inches in diameter.


What lights to use for your kitchen island if you lie in the middle

track lights

If you use the kitchen island for general tasks every now and then, you will want to install more localized/focused lighting such as track lighting.

Track Lighting

These lights are attached to one or more electrical tracks which provide power directly to the bulbs. Many homeowners find that track lighting is an ideal choice as it is easy to install, attractive and versatile. The great benefit with track lighting is that you can adjust the position of each individual light to tailor to your kitchen.


kitchen pendant lighting plan

More focused lighting is needed if you use your kitchen island for a range of tasks

Kitchen islands are ideal for doing daily tasks. These tasks can be done while having an eye on the TV or watching over the kids, or just spending time with other people in the house. You will need to have more focused lighting over the kitchen island to be able to sit comfortably while doing the day to day activities.

Pendant lights hang on a wire to bring them closer to a kitchen island’s surface

Pendant Lighting

Pendant lighting is the choice for lighting a kitchen island, as it brings light closer to the surface, making it easier to see what you’re doing. It is also a popular choice among many homeowners because it is typically very attractive.

Depending on the size of the space you’re looking to light, pendant lights can come as a single or a multiple lamp. An example of a single lamp would be drum lighting. These are elegant light fixtures that have a shade in the shape of a drum. An example of a multiple lamp would be chandeliers.  These blend well with traditional or formal decor. You can also find these “kitchen chandeliers” that double as a pot rack.

A drum light

A black chandelier doubles as a pot holder in the kitchen.









Kitchen island lighting fixtures can be found in both traditional and modern styles, as well as a variety of finishes such as chrome, nickel and bronze. Such lighting is highly versatile, and for this reason pendant lighting for a kitchen island is the preferred choice.


Quick Tips:

  • A quick way to add task lighting to a kitchen island would be to place one or two lamps on the countertop- if you have plug sockets installed directly into the island unit.
  • Dimmers are a great way of adjusting the lighting in a kitchen (and above an island) to provide the right balance of ambient mood or task lighting.


  • For ambient kitchen island lighting use: general ceilings lights such as recessed lighting
  • For more focused lighting use track lights and dimmers
  • If you use your kitchen island for a number of tasks, you have the choice of these light fixtures to bring light closer to the countertop: single or multiple lamp pendant lights, a kitchen pot chandelier, or drum lighting.

Kitchen Island Photos:

2 pendant lights hang over this kitchen island

Track lights provide a flexible lighting solution in a kitchen

General kitchen lighting such as recessed lights can provide enough light for a kitchen island

A touch of color. Pendant lights work well in collaboration with recessed lights.

More kitchen lighting posts:

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