How To Space Pendant Lights Over A Kitchen Island (Sizing Guide!)

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Last updated on March 15th, 2024 at 12:54 pm

Ready to install some pendant lights and not sure where to put them over your kitchen island? Well, look no further because I have your answer!

To properly space and size pendants over an island, there should be 2-4 pendant lights spaced 2-3 feet apart centered on the kitchen island with the pendant bottom being 36 inches above the countertop and the pendant shade being 7-12 inches in diameter.

Now that we’ve got the general guidelines covered, let’s break this down even further so you can find the perfect spacing for your kitchen island pendants.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: Pendant Light Spacing Guide

  1. Standard Pendant Light Dimensions For Kitchen Islands
  2. Best Number & Sizing Of Pendant Lights For Your Island
  3. Other FAQs About Kitchen Island Pendant Lights
  4. Final Thoughts

Standard Pendant Light Dimensions For Kitchen Islands

Depending on the size of your kitchen island (which I will give specific dimensions for below, click here to jump to that section), the spacing of your pendants will look dramatically different.

So, to ensure your kitchen island lighting looks like it was professionally installed, you will want to follow these standard spacing guidelines and tweak them as needed to better fit your situation.

Standard Pendant Light Spacing CategoryStandard Pendant Light Spacing Dimension(s)
Average Number Of Pendants Over An Island2-4 pendants
Spacing Between Pendant Bases24-36 inches
Distance From Countertop To Bottom Of Pendant30-36 inches
Pendant Position Over CountertopCentered to the width of the island or cheated to the side of the island without an overhang
Average Size Of Pendant Shade9-10 inches high x 6-7 inches in diameter
Average Pendant Cord Length36 inches
This table lists the standard dimensions needed to properly space and install pendant lights over a kitchen island.

To help you choose an ideal spacing for your island, I’m going to make some assumptions and use general kitchen island sizes to explain my points.

  • Small-sized kitchen islands: less than 4 ft
  • Medium-sized kitchen islands: 4-6 ft
  • Large-sized kitchen islands: greater than 6 ft

Number Of Pendants

The ideal number of pendant lights over a kitchen island is 2-4.

For small kitchen islands (4 ft long or less) or large pendant shades (12 inches in diameter or bigger), 2 pendants are best because they can be spaced 2 ft apart and not overwhelm the area or block your view.

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For medium to large kitchen islands (larger than 4 ft) or small pendant shades (less than 12 inches in diameter), 3-4 pendants are best because they can be spaced 2-3 ft apart and give a balanced look to the area.

Ideally, groups of 3 are most appealing. So if you have a large enough island to space 3 pendants 2-3 feet apart, this will be your best option as it will be the most visually appealing and balanced look.

Since our ceilings are low, and since I wanted to ensure that our vision was not blocked (because our TV is angled toward that direction), we chose to only use 2 pendant lights spaced further apart.

Spacing Between Pendants

The ideal spacing between pendants over a kitchen island is 2-3 feet (24-36 inches).

This amount of spacing provides plenty of room so you never feel like your vision is being blocked and it provides plenty of lighting without blinding you while they’re turned on.

For small to medium kitchen islands, large pendant shades, or kitchens with low ceilings (8 ft), pendants spaced 3 ft apart will help the room to still feel light and airy and have no concerns of your vision being blocked.

For large kitchen islands, small pendant shades, or kitchens with tall ceilings (greater than 8 ft), pendants spaced 2 ft apart tend to help fill the space over the island so it doesn’t look too sparse.

Ideally, whatever measurement that spaces the pendants out equally across the island will be the best option.

For example, if you have a 78-inch island with 2 pendant lights, then spacing the pendant bases 39 inches apart will be the best spacing for you.

(78 inch island / 2 pendants = 39 inches between pendants)

(Or if you’re using 3 pendants, 78 inch island / 3 pendants = 26 inches between pendants)

Distance From Countertop To Bottom Of Pendant

The ideal distance from the bottom of the pendant light to the top of a kitchen island countertop is 30-36 inches.

For most kitchens, 36 inches between the pendant and countertop will help the room to feel taller and prevent the lights from blocking the average view.

This height will typically put the bottom of the pendant 6 feet from the floor.

Pendant Position Over Countertop

The ideal position of the pendant over a countertop is centered on the width of the island.

However, there are scenarios where positioning it to one side might be more ideal than centering it.

I have a full article on whether pendants should be centered on the kitchen island or not. Check that article out here.

The green line is where pendants centered to the island would go. The pink line is where pendants that were cheated to the “work side” would go.

Average Pendant Shade & Cord Sizes

The ideal pendant shade size is 12 inches or less. The ideal pendant cord length is long enough for the bottom of your pendant to sit 36 inches above the island countertop.

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A good rule of thumb for cord length is to take your ceiling height minus 6 ft (the average height of an island countertop plus 36 inches) then multiply that number by 12 inches.

(Always choose a cord length longer than you need so you can adjust it to fit perfectly)

  • For 8 ft ceilings, the cord length should be at least 24 inches (8 ft – 6 ft = 2 ft x 12 inches = 24 inch cord length).
  • For 9 ft ceilings, the cord length should be at least 36 inches (9 ft – 6 ft = 3 ft x 12 inches = 36 inch cord length).
  • For 10 ft ceilings, the cord length should be at least 48 inches (10 ft – 6 ft = 4 ft x 12 inches = 48 inch cord length).
Our ceiling is 8 ft, and our pendants have a 7-inch glass shade with a 36-inch cord (that came with several options to adjust the length, so we easily shortened it).

A good rule of thumb for pendant shade size is to blow up a couple of balloons to the diameter of the pendant size that you’re thinking of purchasing and hang that from your ceiling for a few days to get a feeling for the size.

Ideally, the bigger the pendant shade you want, the fewer pendants you should hang (and vice versa).

Best Number & Spacing Of Pendant Lights For Your Island

Now that you’ve read all of that, I’m sure you’re ready to figure out the pendant lighting for your specific kitchen island size.

No worries, I’ve broken down the spacing by island size to help you make a decision.

Kitchen Island SizeNumber Of PendantsSpacing Between Pendants
2 ft1Centered
3 ft1Centered
4 ft22 ft apart
5 ft23 ft apart
6 ft32 ft apart
7 ft33 ft apart
8 ft42 ft apart
9 ft43 ft apart
10 ft52 ft apart
This table shows the best number of pendant lights over an island based on the kitchen island size. *These recommendations are based on a pendant shade diameter of 12 inches or less.

Other FAQs About Kitchen Island Pendant Lights

Here are some other frequently asked questions about pendant lights to help you finish off your kitchen island!

Do Kitchen Islands Need Pendant Lights?

If you’re reading this article, then I’m sure you’re on team pendant light (as I am), however, there are scenarios where pendant lights might not be the best lighting option to put over your kitchen island.

I have a full article on the pros and cons of installing pendant lights and situations where you’d be better off forgoing them altogether. Check out that article here.

Can You Put One Light Over An Island?

For kitchen islands that are less than 4 ft wide, you can put one light over the island and it will look great. However, for islands that are 4 ft or bigger, another pendant light should be added to create a balanced look over the island and provide more lighting.

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Final Thoughts On Pendant Light Spacing

There you have it!

As long as pendant lights are spaced relatively evenly over a kitchen island, no one will break out a tape measure and start judging your spacing decisions.

I, too, wanted to ensure my pendant spacing was going to look okay before I started cutting holes into my ceiling, so you’re not alone.

These general guidelines helped me choose our pendant spacing measurements, so hopefully, they will help you decide what’s best for your kitchen as well!

Catch you in my next post!

The Best Kitchen Tools & Products I’ve Used

Ravinte Cabinet Handle Installation Template (For Doors & Drawers)

This is my all-time favorite handle installation template because it has two templates (one for drawers and one for doors) with multiple pull sizes & knob placements! These templates make installing cabinet handles a breeze because you always know your handles will be installed in the same spot on all of your drawers and doors. The kit also comes with a drill bit so you can guarantee you’re using the correct size. I used this template on my entire kitchen and both bathrooms to cut the installation time in half. You can find this hardware template here on Amazon.

Franklin Brass 5-1/16 Inch (128mm) Center Bar Pull (Stainless Steel)

If you want to immediately modernize your kitchen island, then these cabinet pulls are a must. They are heavy-duty feeling, durable, easy to install, and are a large size for a great price. We put these pulls on all of our kitchen and island doors and drawers along with our bathroom doors and drawers. You can find these gorgeous cabinet pulls here on Amazon.

P.S. Use the hardware installation template I mentioned above to install these new pulls in record time!

Love this pendant spacing guide? Share it with others so they can properly measure out their pendant light placement as well!

By Christine

Christine is a blogger and DIYer who tackles home renovation and decorating projects alongside her husband, Adam, for their personal residence and rental properties. Although she successfully tackles large renovation projects to avoid expensive contractor fees and bring her vision to life now, her path to success was not easy.

Go here to read her story,  From a Clueless First-Time Homebuyer To A Confident DIYer Creating Her Dream Home One Project At A Time.

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