A Guide to Choosing Lights For Your Kitchen Island and Countertops

Pendant Kitchen Island and Countertop Lighting

Pendant Kitchen Island and Countertop Lighting

Kitchen island and countertop light fixtures have become an important design element that is practical and visually appealing.

Designing a new kitchen encompasses a myriad of decisions. From designing the layout to choosing cabinets, fixtures, flooring and more, you need to take an overall approach to make sure your technical needs are met, but also keep an eye towards aesthetics and practical needs as well.

One important area to consider that can often make the difference between a mediocre design and a functional, aesthetically pleasing kitchen is your choice of lighting. Kitchen lighting design encompasses several different areas, each with a particular function designed to meet specific needs. Underlighting cabinets can improve your workspace, while recessed dimmable lighting can help to create a warm, cozy space for family gatherings. As kitchen design has moved towards a more open floor plan, pendant lighting over kitchen islands and countertops has become a growing design element that is both aesthetically interesting as well as practical and functional.

Pendant lighting is effective as a decorative focus in your design, as well as functional task lighting; Pendants are available in a wide variety of styles to meet any aesthetic need. They can help to break up an open floor plan and provide comfortable, directed task lighting with a stunning visual impact. Pendants come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and sizes.

Here's a guide to help you choose the perfect lighting for your kitchen island and countertops.

Choosing the right pendant lighting

A pendant light is a suspended fixture that hangs from the ceiling. It comes in three basic designs; open shade is facing up, open shade facing down, and mini pendants, which are smaller sized fixtures. When used as task lighting over a kitchen island, your focus should first be on wattage as these types of lights need to focus more light on a concentrated area.

When choosing your island and countertop lighting, consider the following items to help narrow your focus:

1. Assess your décor needs

Begin by visualizing your space. Visit lighting stores and do online research to find pendant lighting that fits your design style and aesthetic needs. Fixtures in darker colors are easier to clean and can offer a dramatic look. Keep the size proportional to your space and the size of the room. 

2. Determine the number of fixtures

If your space is longer than four feet, you will require multiple fixtures. Consider the “rule of three.” This rule states that the easiest way to achieve balance is to repeat a basic design element three times. We're wired to recognize patterns, and the most basic pattern is an odd number. The final number of fixtures you'll need is determined by the length of your countertop or island. As a general rule 60 – 75 watts of lighting for every 20 inches of counter space is sufficient.

3. Determine the hang height.

Your lights should be close enough to the countertop to provide adequate task lighting, but high enough to provide an unobstructed view of the surrounding space. Regarding lighting an island or countertop, the bottom of the fixture should be between 28 and 38 inches above the countertop.

Once you have defined your needs and narrowed your focus, answer these fundamental questions to finalize your choices:

What is the purpose of your lighting?

Are you setting a mood or adding a design focus or pop of color to your space? For lighting that is to perform multiple functions like setting the mood and providing task lighting consider adding a dimmer switch.

Low voltage or line voltage?

Low voltage pendants are considerably less expensive than standard line voltage fixtures. They have smaller bulbs and fixtures which can save on space, are a significant design element and cost less to operate. They throw light, but if you are seeking task lighting, you may want to consider standard line voltage fixtures. New low voltage LED lighting is a great option!

What kind of shade do you prefer?

Translucent or colored glass shades are limited in filtering light. They not only focus light downward but also illuminate the surrounding space. Solid shades cast light downward (or upward), and this is an important consideration. If you are not looking for a warm glow, solid shades are best.

Lighting technology today offers homeowners a wide variety of pendant lamps and lighting types to choose from. LED lighting is a hot new trends in pendants and is an excellent choice if you are looking to add colored light as a design statement. The best approach is to discuss your options with your designer or design-build contractor. They can explain the specifications of various types of pendant lighting. Lighting is a key element in any kitchen remodel. Take the time to do your research, and you're sure to make the perfect choice to fit your style, needs, and budget.

Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.