A Comprehensive Kitchen Island Lighting Guide

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In this article:

  • Important factors to consider
  • Types of light fixture
  • Types of bulbs
  • Size of the light fixtures
  • Weight of a light fixture
  • Positioning of the fixtures
  • Brightness and color of a fixture
  • Additional features for more kitchen lighting

Kitchen islands can serve as additional workstations or dining spots inside your home. Or at least they could serve in those capacities if you have set up adequate kitchen lighting. Proper kitchen lighting is essential. You do not want to fumble around with sharp objects nearby. Relying on established light fixtures may also not suffice and will likely need some dedicated lights of its own.

Allow us to help you figure out what to do about your kitchen island’s lighting. Use the information included here to find a lighting setup that makes sense for your household.

The Factors to Consider for Kitchen Lighting

Setting up lighting for your kitchen island requires careful consideration. You cannot pick out a few light bulbs and be confident that they will work fine. If you fail to consider the layout of your kitchen and the elements already in there, your lighting could look off. The result could be a kitchen that is not conducive to long cooking sessions.

Type of Light Fixture

To get started, let’s discuss what type of light fixture you should consider adding to your kitchen. We are not talking about the type of bulb here as we will get to that in a bit. For this part, we focus on the types of fixtures you can get. Four commonly used light fixtures to illuminate kitchen islands include:

Recessed Lights

Recessed lights are great inside kitchens because they do not get in the way. You can add new appliances or install new fixtures without worrying about the recessed lights.

However, recessed lights can scatter lighting throughout your kitchen. They will not concentrate the lighting solely on the kitchen island below.

Linear Chandeliers

A linear chandelier is a fixture you should consider installing if you want your kitchen island to become a focal point of that room. Pair the linear chandelier’s design with the kitchen island, so they complement each other better. Installing a linear chandelier also makes sense if the other light fixtures inside your kitchen are not too bright. The bright lights from the linear chandelier can compensate for those weaker fixtures.

The one drawback to installing a linear chandelier is its size. Your kitchen island should also be pretty big to pair with it.

Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are great because they concentrate the lighting onto your kitchen island. You can even install different types of pendants to add some flair to your kitchen design. Unfortunately, pendant lights can also be troublesome because of how low they hang. Make sure they are set at the right height so they do not become a nuisance.

Consider the characteristics of the different light fixtures and remember what you need for your kitchen island. Eventually, you will figure out which fixture will work best for your intended installation.

Track Lighting

Track lighting is an extremely versatile option for your kitchen island. It’s perfect for those seeking flexibility and adaptability with their lighting solution. With track lighting, you have the liberty to add, remove, or reposition lights along the track to focus illumination exactly where it’s needed. This is especially useful for kitchen islands. They can be installed on walls or ceilings, making them ideal for both smaller kitchens with limited ceiling space and larger spaces that need a more expansive spread of light.

However, like any other lighting solution, track lighting should be carefully considered in the context of your kitchen’s size, layout, and overall design scheme.

Type of Light Bulb

Let’s now turn our attention to picking the right lighting for your space. Your choice of light bulb will determine how long those new installations will illuminate your kitchen island. They can also affect the balance of that area. Do not forget that your bulbs will also impact your energy bills.

According to Wayfair, there are four types of light bulbs commonly used by most homeowners who shop with them. They are compact fluorescent light bulbs, halogen light bulbs, incandescent light bulbs, and LEDs.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Also known as CFLs, compact fluorescent light bulbs are arguably the most versatile of the available options. That versatility is evident in the way CFLs light up. You can choose from different color options if you intend to install this kind of light bulb.

Longevity is also a selling point for CFLs. They are capable of providing illumination for up to ten years. You will definitely get your money’s worth if you opt to use CFLs.

Still, there is a downside to using CFLs and it is not one you can afford to ignore. CFLs contain mercury. If they break, you could have a big problem on your hands. You can mitigate the level of risk by choosing protective housing for CFLs, but the threat of mercury is still there. The threat of mercury is even harder to ignore inside your kitchen.

Halogen Light Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs are known for being bright, so you might assume that halogen light bulbs will not work for your kitchen island. Thankfully, you can use dimmers to mitigate the intensity of the lighting provided by halogen bulbs.

Compared to the other options, halogen light bulbs have a fairly short lifespan. If you do not want to worry about changing your light bulbs too often, you should probably install something else.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

These days, many homeowners have moved away from using incandescent light bulbs. It is easy to understand why. Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient and burn out quickly. Consider your other options if you want light bulbs that can remain fixtures inside your home for a long time.

The only real upside to incandescent light bulbs is their price. They are significantly cheaper than the other light bulbs. Even so, you may spend more on incandescent light bulbs in the long run because of how quickly they stop being functional.


LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, have become the light sources of choice for many homeowners in the United States. Why have LEDs become so popular? Well, there are three main reasons for that.

  1. First off, LEDs feature the longest lifespan out of all the options we mentioned here. They routinely stay in service for over ten years, so you will not need to worry about them for a long time after you install them.
  2. Efficiency is another major selling point for LEDs. They utilize electricity more efficiently than the other bulbs. That alone is reason enough for many folks to stick with LEDs. More efficient light bulbs also excel at keeping your electric bills down.
  3. Lastly, you should consider using LEDs because of their versatility. They can be anywhere, and they work with all types of fixtures. If you have a specific look you are trying to achieve inside your kitchen, the LEDs for your kitchen island will not get in the way.

Size of the Light Fixture

Size matters when choosing lights for your kitchen island. Since the light fixtures will be over your kitchen island, you must check if you have enough room available up there. The last thing you want is to pay for fixtures that will be too big for your kitchen.

On the other hand, the light fixtures cannot be too small. That is especially important if you have an open-concept kitchen. You want your new light fixtures to be functional instead of purely decorative. Figuring out the appropriate size for your new light fixtures can be difficult. If possible, consult with an architect or the home renovation contractors at a San Diego home building company and let them lead you in the right direction.

Weight of the Light Fixture

Along with the size, you should also consider the weight of the light fixture you intend to install. Knowing the weight is crucial because you do not want to put too much pressure on your kitchen’s ceiling. The last thing you need is to have your ceiling come crashing down because you forgot to account for how heavy your new lights are. This is another instance where consulting with experts will help you determine if a particular fixture is compatible with your kitchen.

Positioning of the Light Fixture

The positioning of your light fixtures is another important factor to consider while renovating your kitchen. This matters because your new light fixtures could become troublesome if you do not position them correctly. Most homeowners will want to install their new light fixtures above their kitchen island. You may be planning on doing that as well.

But how high should the light fixtures be? What is the right height to aim for so you will not need to constantly be annoyed by those new additions? Generally speaking, you should aim to keep the light fixtures suspended about three feet above the kitchen island. At that height, you can cook on the stovetop without the light fixtures getting in your way.

If you only intend to use the kitchen island for dining, you can set the lights about 30 inches above it. Also, the lights do not need to be limited to the area above your kitchen island. You can also find room for them near the floor.

Inspect the lower portion of your kitchen and see if there is any room there for lights. The space available may only be big enough to accommodate LEDs, but that will do. Putting lights under your kitchen island is helpful if you intend to use it for storage. That way, you can get items from inside the kitchen island without much trouble.

The Brightness of the Light Fixture

We touched on the brightness of the light fixtures earlier, but that deserves a longer conversation. Depending on how you want to finish the lighting setup inside your revamped kitchen, you may need bright lights or ones that can complement your already existing fixtures.

How can you tell if your new light bulbs feature the right amount of brightness? You need to look at its lumens. According to the Department of Energy, lumens indicate how much light bulbs emit. Bulbs with higher lumen counts are brighter, and those with lower counts are dimmer.

If you already like how much light you are getting from a particular bulb, you can reference its lumen count when you need to replace it.

Additional Features for More Kitchen Lighting

Certain features can turn your new kitchen island lights into even more valuable elements of your home. They are worth adding, even if they cost you a bit extra.

Start by asking about potential finishes for the fixtures themselves. Remember that your new light fixtures will be routinely exposed to steam since they are in your kitchen. If they are made from material that is prone to rusting over, then they will wear down quickly.

You should make sure that your fixtures are properly treated to withstand the conditions inside your kitchen. Ideally, you want the fixtures to feature a powder coating. Powder coats hold up remarkably well to moisture. They will protect your fixtures for many years. It also helps that powder coatings are quite attractive. Those coats will not diminish the appearance of your new fixtures.

In addition to having a powder coating, your new light fixtures should also offer dimming features. Dimmer switches are great for setting the mood. Enjoy a romantic dinner in the comfort of your own kitchen under the gentle lighting provided by your new fixtures. Those dimmer switches will also come in handy if you already have other lights installed in your kitchen. Use those dimmer switches to adjust the brightness of your new lights. You can configure your lighting exactly to your preferences with the help of those dimmer switches.

Kitchen islands are additions that can significantly change the look and feel of your home. However, you cannot stop at building the kitchen island. You need to integrate it better into your home’s revamped layout by introducing some new light fixtures too.

Hopefully, the tips featured in this article can help you determine the specific light fixtures that will pair best with your kitchen island. We at Eco Minded Solutions can also help you install both the kitchen island and the lights that will complete it.

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