Kitchen Pendant Guide
How far apart should I hang my pendants?
Deciding where to hang your pendant lights over a kitchen island or breakfast bar can be tricky. There are so many things you need to take into consideration and much of it will depend on your particular kitchen and the size of the island or peninsula you want to light.
Before fitting your pendants you should consider:
- The height of your ceilings.
- How tall your family members are.
- Your lifestyle and what activities might take place on the surface you want to hang the pendants over. For example, you might choose to have your lights hung lower over a surface that you use for eating or working at, but higher over a surface you want to prepare food or play games on.
If your island is central with activity going on around it, you need to make sure your lights are high enough for people to be able to see one another, but not so high that you are blinded by the glare of the bulb.
For inspiration, and a guide to the sizes of some of our pendant lights, see our Kitchen Island Lighting >
One top design tip to achieve balance in a scheme is to repeat an element three times. Visually, objects arranged in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable and effective than those arranged in even numbers. This is because uneven groupings create a sense of movement as our our eyes are forced to move around them which makes them more pleasing to look at.
The rule of three
Generally, you will find pendant lights hung in groups of three above a dining table or kitchen island. But remember, rules can be broken, and sometimes you can achieve a more imaginative look by hanging two larger pendants together than three smaller ones.
"We were brave and went for a larger sized pendant, so glad we did - they look fabulous"
G. Sutton, Oxford
G. Sutton, Oxford
What follows is a very general guide; as always, there are no absolutes. Where you choose to hang your lights is entirely subjective. As a rule, when hanging multiple pendants, the spacing is led by the diameter at the widest part of the pendant. Ideally, you want the space between each pendant to be at least the same as the width or diameter of each fixture.
- A very general rule of thumb is to hang your pendants at least 7ft (213cm) from the floor to the bottom tip or rim of your pendant to make sure their is adequate clearance above head height.
- Or, if it is easier to measure, then hang them 2.5 to 3ft (70- 90cm) above your countertop.
If lighting a larger island with three pendants, hang one directly over the centre point of the island and space the other two equidistant from it, around 60-75cm apart.
If you would like to hang one long pendant, it should be hung at the centre point of the island and take up no more than two thirds of the island space above it.
As we now use our kitchens for so much more than cooking and preparing food - for entertaining, relaxing, doing homework - it is really useful if your lighting can be adjusted accordingly. Consider using a dimmer switch as this gives you control over the amount of light you need for a task – more for cooking or working with – less for relaxing to.
Browse our range of dimmer switches - Rotary Dimmer Switches >
Shop our collection of Dolly/Dimmer Switches >
N/B It is not advisable to hang a pendant light directly over a heat source such as a hob, cooker or sink as the steam may damage the electrics.
Consider the size and shape of your kitchen and select fittings that are in proportion. If in doubt, go larger as even smaller spaces look better with larger lights than tiny ones.
Size and shape
Generally speaking, we suggest that the larger the area you want to light, the bigger the pendant light should be. Also, the higher your ceiling and the longer your island, the larger the pendants should be.
The size of pendants that you choose will also be determined by how you intend to us them. If you need them to produce good overall tasking light, it might be wiser to go larger, but if you want them more as a focal point to produce accent lighting, using smaller pendants with a more focussed beam might be better.
The shape of lights you choose, is entirely subjective. Wider, flatter designs will not encroach on the space above your island as will more bulbous, heavier shapes that may make more of a statement. Glass shades are excellent as the airy, reflective quality of glass gives ample light without reducing the sense of space.
We often recommend that our customers try hanging different shaped balloons or paper plates in the space above their island as it can help illustrate the size and shapes that might be suitable.
Sense of scale
Another idea is to cut out a template of the pendant you are considering, to see if the proportions work. Using a balloon or template means you can play around with different sizes to see see what looks best.
If you attach the balloons to your ceiling using a thread or piece of string, you can also experiment with different lengths to see what height is required. We can adapt all our pendants to any length you require as a bespoke request.
For more information, see our Knowledge Base Guide: