Lighting a Kitchen Island
Randall, I want to install non-returnable 6-inch by 6-inch mini pendants over a 4-foot kitchen island with 8-foot ceilings. Are they too big for my space?
Actually, they are kind of on the small side. I would rather you use two 18-inch-wide by 12-inch-high pendants. But if you would like to use the 6-inch by 6-inch pendants, use three of them. Center one over the island and install the other two 18 inches out from the centerline. Also, I recommend that you hang them so that they are just above eye level when you are standing. That way they will not block your field of vision. This is different than at the dining room table, where hosts and guests are seated. Now is a really good time to take a fresh look at over-the-island lights. Things are changing a bit as to how the kitchen island is being used. Before, it was mainly an extra space for tasks related to meal preparation. Now, it’s also a place for family and friends to gather. It has become the first stop (and sometimes the only spot) for casual entertaining. Guests can chat with you over a glass of wine while you put the last-minute touches on the meal that you bought but are pretending that you made from scratch. This trend has opened the door to the idea of having lighting in the kitchen that is as comfortable and inviting as that in the rest of the house. It’s not just simply a matter of enough task light. Now ambient, decorative and accent light also play a part. As the islands get bigger, the scale or number of decorative fixtures hanging over them also increases. A smaller island (4-5 feet long) can take one large fixture or two medium-sized ones. A larger-sized island (6-8 feet) can easily handle two large or three medium-sized pendants. It is also a good idea to have recessed fixtures installed between them for an additional punch of work light. This is great light for when the kids are researching their term papers or you are working on your latest taxidermy project.
Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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