Kitchen Lighting | A Guide to Choosing Kitchen Island Pendants

Pendant lights supply both form and function as they are practical for decorative lighting.

Remodeling a kitchen consists of a multitude of decisions. From designing the layout to choosing appliances, finishes, countertops, cabinets and more, you need to take an overall approach to make sure that not only are your technical needs taken care of (like the infamous kitchen triangle!) but that your aesthetic and practical needs are met as well.

One important aspect of your kitchen remodel that can be the difference between a functional, aesthetically pleasing workspace and a mediocre kitchen is your choice of lighting. Kitchen lighting consists of several different types, each with its own function. Underlighting for cabinets can improve your workspace, while recessed dimmable lighting in the ceiling can help to create a warm and cozy environment. As kitchens have moved to a more open floor plan, pendant lighting over the kitchen island has become a growing trend.

Pendants supply both form and function as they are practical for decorative lighting and come in a variety of styles to perfectly fit any kitchen décor. They help to break up the open space and provide comfortable, directed lighting with a visual impact. Because they function as a decorative accent, they can add a strong visual focus to your entire living space. They come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and sizes.

Here's a quick guide to help you choose the perfect pendant lighting to fit your specific needs.

Choosing the right pendant lighting for your needs

First, let's look at exactly what constitutes a pendant light. A pendant light is a suspended fixture hung from the ceiling. It comes in three basic designs; open shade is facing down, open shade facing up, and mini pendants which are a smaller sized pendant light. When used over a kitchen island you need to focus on wattage as these types of pendants need to focus more light on a concentrated area.

When lighting your kitchen island, here are three tips to help you narrow your search.

Assess your décor

Start by visualizing your space. Begin to search lighting stores and online for pendant fixtures that fit the design style you are looking for. Pendant lights in darker colors are easier to clean and can offer a dramatic look for your kitchen area. Keep the size proportional to your space and the size of the room.

Determine the number of fixtures you'll need

Spaces longer than four feet will require multiple fixtures. As a general rule consider the “rule of three”  The rule of three states that the easiest way to achieve balance is to repeat an element three times. Our brains are wired to recognize patterns, and the most basic pattern is an odd number. Of course, the number of pendants you need will be determined by the length of your countertop or island. As a general rule, you'll need about 60-75 watts of lighting for every 20 inches of counter space.

Determine the height

Your lights should be close enough to the counter to provide adequate lighting, but high enough to provide an unobstructed view. In terms of lighting an island, the bottom of the light should be between 28 and 38 inches above the countertop.

Once you've met these three criteria, ask yourself some key questions to help narrow your search.

What's the purpose of your lighting?

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

Low voltage or line voltage pendants?

Lower voltage pendants are available and are considerable less expensive than standard voltage lights. They have smaller bulbs and fixtures which can save on space, are an excellent design element, and can cost less to operates. They do throw light, but if you are looking for “task lighting” you may want to consider standard voltage fixtures. If you are setting a mood, low voltage or LED lighting is perfect for the task.

What kind of shade do you want?

Translucent shades are limited at filtering light. It not only focuses the light downward but also illuminates the space around it for a more diffused effect. Solid shades cast light downwards. This is an important consideration. If you are not looking for a “glow” solid shades are best.

Today's lighting technology offers a wide variety of pendant lamps and lighting types to choose from. LED lighting is a growing trend especially if you are looking for colored light as part of a design statement. The best option is to work with your kitchen designer or design/build contractor. They can show you options and explain the specifications of various types of pendant lighting. Visit lighting stores and check out your options. Lighting is a crucial element in any kitchen remodel. Take the time, do your research and you're sure to find the perfect option for your kitchen remodel!.

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