What Is The Correct Pendant Light Height Over An Island?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
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what is the correct pendant light height over an island

A kitchen remodel is a challenging but incredibly rewarding endeavor. The process is difficult in part because there often end up being all sorts of questions that arise that you likely had never thought of before. If you are installing a kitchen island, for example, you will need to consider what lights to hang above it, and how high you should hang them.

When hanging pendant lights, be sure to allow a minimum height of 30” to 36” between the kitchen island countertop and the bottom of the pendant light. Be sure to factor in the height of your kitchen island and ceiling height before installing your pendant lights. Allow 24” between pendant lights and at least 6” between the edge of the kitchen island and the first light.

Before you install hanging kitchen lights, you have several measurements to consider. You also need to determine how many pendant lights you need, and exactly what kind of look you are going for. In order to make the best decisions for the pendant lights over your island, follow these general rules and use these easy tips and tricks.

How High Should You Hang Your Pendant Lights?

The main rule of thumb to go by when hanging your pendant lights is to allow a distance of 30” to 36” between the top of the kitchen island and the pendant light. Having at least three feet of space or so between your kitchen island countertop and your pendant bulbs allows for pleasant lighting and also plenty of free space.

After all, kitchen islands are often busy work spaces for cooking and also entertaining. It is important your lights do not become an unnecessary visual obstruction, or worse in the way of your cooking equipment. While it is a general good rule to allow 30” to 36” between the kitchen island and the pendant light bulb, you also need to consider other factors. Also, there are other measurements to consider in addition to the height between the kitchen island and the light itself.

Use Balloons To Determine The Perfect Light Placement

One great trick to use helium balloons and measured string to create a mockup of your kitchen island with the pendant lights. Once you determine your proposed height between your island countertop and the pendant light, you can test this height using helium balloons.

Take a helium filled balloon (ideally one close to the size of the pendant light itself), and attach it to a string that is the length of the height you are looking to have between the light and the island. Tape the bottom of the string to the island (allow a bit of extra string for taping purposes). The result is the balloon (or balloons, for multiple lights) hanging in the exact location the lights will be. This is a great way for you to visualize what the lights will look like in the room before you do the installation work.

Five Questions To Ask When Deciding Pendant Light Height

1. How Tall Is The Island?

In order to determine the best height for your pendant light, you need a minimum space between the pendant light and the kitchen island. While the standard kitchen island is about 36”, there are all sorts of variations.

Some kitchen islands are much taller while others are a bit shorter. This height must be factored in, and your pendant height should be adjusted accordingly.

2. What Is The Ceiling Height?

The ceiling height will also greatly factor into how you hang your pendant light. While your most important measurement will be the distance between the kitchen island countertop and the light itself, you also need to consider how to hang the light. If you have very high ceilings, you will have a longer, lower hanging pendant light. There is nothing wrong with this, but this look may alter how high you want to hang the pendant light above the island.

As a rule, the higher the ceiling, the more space you may want to consider allowing between the light and the kitchen island. You do, however, want to make sure you are not sacrificing the functional lighting at all. In other words, make sure the lights are still bright enough.

3. What Is My Desired Effect?

Are you going for a dramatic effect? Do you want something subtle? Or perhaps you are looking for function above all else. Understand the aesthetic you are going for. This will help you pick out the right pendant lights and choose the perfect height to achieve your desired effect.

4. What Other Notable Features Are In The Room?

Survey the room to see if there are any other features in the room that could compete with the lights. Skylights, high windows, or molding are all possible factors to consider. These room features do not pose any problems, but they should be considered when you are determining the height of your pendant lights. The goal is to have balance and symmetry in the room, in addition to function and safety.

5. How Many Pendant Lights Am I Hanging?

If you opt for pendant lights over your kitchen island instead of a chandelier or other lighting, the odds are you will install more than one. As a general rule, if you have a smaller island (8 feet wide or smaller) 2 lights should do. If you have a larger island, you should have at least 3 pendant lights.

With multiple pendant lights, you need to consider multiple placements and how this will look. Make sure the light height offers both function and symmetry in your room. Try the helium balloon trick if you are questionable about how high your lights should be.

Other Pendant Light Measurements To Consider

There are several other important measurements and heights you need to take into account when deciding on the perfect placement for you pendant lights over an island.

Distance Between Pendant Lights

The odds are you will install more than one pendant light above your kitchen island. While your main concern may be how high you need to install the light, you also need to consider how to space your pendant lights. You should allow a minimum of 24” (two feet) between your pendant lights. If, however, you have wide-bulbed lights, you may want to allow a bit more space between lights so they do not look cramped.

Distance Between Pendant Light And Edge Of Island

You also need to make sure you have ample clearance between the pendant lights and the edge of the kitchen island. For both safety and design reasons, make sure you have at least 6 inches of space between the edge of the kitchen island and the nearest pendant light. This will prevent any tall heads from bumping the light. It will also anchor the space and look more pleasing to the eye.

Distance From Ceiling to pendant Light

The most important height gap to consider may be the height between the kitchen island and the pendant light. Still, you should also ponder the height between the light and the ceiling. If you have a high ceiling, make sure you purchase lights that are safe to hang at longer lengths. Also, make sure these lights are visually stunning when hung from great heights, rather than awkward and out of place.

Wrapping Up Perfect Height Of Pendant Light Over An Island

There are several measurements to consider when you hang pendant lights over a kitchen island. Be sure you allow 30” to 36” of height between the kitchen island and the pendant bulb. You also should consider the height of your kitchen island. This will affect the overall height you hang your pendant lights at. Make sure you pay particular attention to the distance between your pendant lights.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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