Kitchen island lighting ideas: expert tips and inspiration

kitchen island lighting ideas

There is no doubt the kitchen is the hub of the home. And, within this hard-working space, the island is often the hot spot where everyone gathers.

So, we’ve asked kitchen and lighting experts for their top tips and put together an inspiration gallery brimming with ideas to help you illuminate your island like a pro.

Lighting above your island is important for both functionality and the style factor. “Adequate illumination ensures a well-lit workspace for tasks such as food preparation and cooking, enhancing safety and efficiency,” explains Karen Bell, creative director at David Salisbury. “It creates a focal point, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the kitchen.”

But with so many shapes, sizes, and styles available, what is the right choice for your design? We’ve broken down some of the most popular options – from grand chandeliers to slim and multi-functional pendants. Let’s begin…

Go grand

One of our favourite kitchen trends is oversized lighting. From big metallic pendants with an industrial edge and translucent glass fixtures to grand shades made from wicker or bamboo, these stand-out solutions are versatile and suit a range of kitchen styles. “Large, oversized pendants are ideal for installing over kitchen islands as they create instant drama, drawing focus to the key parts of your kitchen design,” says Mara Rypacek Miller, managing director at Industville.

Apart from making a statement, they are also a practical addition above an island. Just make sure to choose the right size to suit your space – and, don’t hang them too low as these fixtures can obstruct your view or become inconvenient when socialising with guests. “It’s important to consider the scale of the lighting fixture relative to the space and other design elements in the kitchen to ensure it complements the overall aesthetic,” say Lights & Lamps co-founders Niki Wright and Scarlett Hampton. 

For a cohesive scheme, match your lights with other kitchen elements, such as taps, handles, or wall fixtures. “Giant pendants highlight the workspace and give you a bold accent which you can coordinate with other fittings and matching wall lights,” suggests Mara.

oversized pendants
Kitchen by The Main Company. Photography: Chris Snook.
big colourful pendants above an island
Titan size 3 pendant in Olive Green with bronze interior, £455, Original BTC.
sea-inspired pendant in a white kitchen
Beth Webb collection Sea Island pendant, £2239; Taylor tray, £599, and Taylor centrepiece, £678, Arteriors.
brass lighting in a green kitchen
Supermoon pendant, £285; Large Moon wall lights, £120, and Portobell lamp, £230, Pooky.
elegant shaker kitchen with big island in the centre and glass fixtures
Bespoke shaker hand-painted kitchen by Searle & Taylor. Price on application.
blush cabinetry with mirror splashback and two brass pendants
Tegola Elite Tile 40862 copper tile luxury vinyl, £69.99 per sq m, Carpetright.
dark kitchen design with big copper lights
Turin kitchen in Dark Stone, from £4382, Symphony.

A dash of glam

Love a luxurious look in the kitchen? Enter: chandeliers. This type of lighting works particularly well in classic or timeless schemes – think shaker units with traditional architectural detailing and stone surfaces.

When it comes to chandeliers, you can go big or more pared-back depending on your style. For an opulent look, position yours right above the island – it’s even better if your island sits in the centre of the room.

“The choice often comes down to what best compliments the overall style of the kitchen,” says Jo Plismy, founder at Gong. So, take your time when picking your lighting as it can make or break your design.

kitchen island lighting ideas: include a chandelier for a glam touch
Grace kitchen by Mowlem & Co. Kitchens start from £30,000.
kitchen island lighting ideas: chandelier in a grand design
Brompton kitchen, from £42,000 excluding appliances and worktops, David Salisbury.

Do you have enough space for a kitchen island? Find out here

Kitchen island lighting ideas: clusters

A classic choice, clusters are ideal for illuminating your island while boosting your kitchen’s aesthetic. “Hanging pendants in groups of threes can be particularly effective over kitchen islands and dining tables, because pendants are a great way of breaking up lines of kitchen cabinets and creating an impactful silhouette,” advises Charlie Bowles, director at Original BTC.

The best bit? These days, you can pick from a wide range of options to suit your style and needs. For example, you can choose smoked glass shades to add a contemporary touch to your shaker kitchen. Or, why not embrace the industrial style with the help of steel-framed or aged brass shades?

Also, remember to play around with the sizing and height options for a personalised look.

kitchen island lighting ideas with smoked clusters
Arrington kitchen in Shell and Slate Blue, price on application, Kitchen Stori, pictured with Ziva recycled glass cluster pendant in Green Smoke, £225, Nkuku.
colourful clusters
Pick-n-Mix pendants, from £495, Rothschild & Bickers. Photography: Rock + Poppins
industrial style kitchen with hanging pendants
Brooklyn 5 wire pendant 1 kitchen, £414, Industville. Kitchen design by The Main Company.

Linear kitchen island lighting ideas

Linear lights can complement any kitchen, from traditional to contemporary. It all comes down to the style of shades you choose as the layout remains the same – in a straight line. Imagine big concrete pendants, small ribbed glass shades, and colourful cone shapes.

“If you’re looking for something that won’t date as interior trends come and go, keep it simple with a row of clear glass or white pendants,” recommends Al Bruce, founder of Olive & Barr. “Those looking for a bolder statement should consider large industrial-style pendants that will add depth to the space as well as a contemporary contrast to kitchen cabinets.”

Depending on the size of your island, you can place two, three, or even four pendants above your island for pretty and practical illumination. “When selecting lighting for an island, consider a combination of ambient, task, and decorative lighting. Linear lighting fixtures are effective, especially for longer islands,” says Karen.

Straight line colourful pendants
Stemmed round glass pendants, price on application, Curiousa. Kitchen by Chiselwood.
colourful kitchen in blue and pink with three pendants above the island
Shaker kitchen painted in Railings and Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball, from £10,000, Olive & Barr.
neutral kitchen with wicker chairs, copper tap and two cone pendants
Kitchen by Second Nature. Price on application.
green shaker kitchen with three glass pendants
Kitchen by Davonport. Price on application.
modern kitchen with three multi-functional pendants which hold plants
Hackney kitchen by Ledbury Studio. Kitchens start from £50,000.
clear glass pendants above veiny worktop
Henley ellipse ribbed glass pendant light, £109, The Soho Lighting Company.
two pendants in a light green colour in a Scandi style kitchen
Anglepoise Type 80 pendant light in Pistachio, available from Amos Lighting.

Modern and multi-functional

Make your kitchen island lighting work harder with the help of smart solutions. Think motion-activated pendants, extractor lighting, and hanging racks with built-in LED strips. These clever solutions can help you illuminate your island while providing extra storage or saving you space and time.

Why should you choose this type of lighting, you ask? “You may want an unobstructed view through your kitchen. In such cases, powerful extractor lighting can come in handy, illuminating the hob and the surrounding worktop. However, note that this only works if the island is not too big,” advises Charlie Smallbone, founder of Ledbury Studio.

“Another alternative to pendant lighting is to use LEDs concealed in a hanging rack suspended over the island. The bonus of a rack like this is that it can also be used to store kitchen essentials,” explains Charlie. Or, you can inject a pop of personality through with memorabilia, house plants, and your favourite cook books. Get creative!

illuminated suspended rack in a wooden kitchen
 Zerox furniture in Loft Brown Oak finish, from £17,500, Rotpunkt.
illuminated extractor in a grey space
Mythos full light ceiling hood, £1800, Franke.
linear pendant light in wooden kitchen
Lighting pendant, from £1050, Novy.

Top tips

  • Think about the dimensions. “If you decide on pendants or chandeliers, when hanging the lights, it’s worth considering how they look from different viewpoints, to ensure the dimensions work,” advises Jo. “For example, they may appear differently when sitting at the island compared to when you first enter the room.”
  • How many lights should I include above my island? “Look to choose pendants in groups of three,” suggests Richard Davonport, managing director at Davonport. “There is an unwritten law in interior design that clusters of three nearly always look better than twos or fours, which is why you’ll often see a row of three over a kitchen island.”
  • Go for dimmer switches so you can set the right atmosphere throughout the day. “Be sure to fit your pendants with dimmer switches,” says Charlie. “This way, you can turn them up when cooking and preparing food, and dim them down when dining.”

Enjoyed this post? Click here to get inspired by these fluted kitchen island ideas

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