Your Guide To Kitchen Pendant Lighting

Your kitchen is one of the busiest and most practical rooms in your house. It’s important that your lighting makes everyday activities easy to carry out. But functional doesn’t have to be mundane, and kitchen pendant lighting can meet both utilitarian and aesthetic objectives for the room.

Whether you’re starting from scratch, renovating, or simply making a few cosmetic changes, give your lighting some careful consideration, and a bland or neutral space can be transformed.

Where Can I Install Pendant Lighting?

Pendant lights are part of a group of ‘task’ lights, used to aid any activity, but in the case of a kitchen, activities such as cooking, eating and cleaning or even working. They also perform an ‘ambient’ lighting role, meaning they have an impact on the brightness of a room as a whole, but primarily, their role is to illuminate specific areas.

Traditionally, kitchen pendant lights are found over kitchen islands and dining tables, but they can be used in any part of the room if required. A pendant light over a sink can make preparing food and washing up much easier for example.

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EBB & FLOW Rowan Ceiling Pendant Lights
Interior Designer: Lindi Reynolds  

How High Or Low Should Kitchen Pendants Be?

This isn’t as difficult to work out as you might think. Think about the surface you’re highlighting rather than your ceiling height, and as a general rule, make sure the pendants are 75-90cm (30-36 inches) above it.

If the pendants are too high, the light will be too glaring and become ineffective as a task light.

If the pendants are too low, you run the risk of them blocking your view of other people or out of the window as you look across the room.

And remember, if you have a very tall ceiling, a double height barn conversion for example, always check with your supplier that extra cable can be supplied.

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EBB & FLOW Rowan Crystal Shade Pendants

Rise And Fall Lighting

The ability to vary the height of your pendants is extremely useful. Rise and Fall lights take task lighting to the next level, and create intimacy for dining.

Yes, they’re quite retro, but if you choose a perfectly weighted fixture that can be moved with a finger tip you’ll realise why they were once so popular! 

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Elstead Provence Rise and Fall Lamp

What Size Should Pendant Lights Be?

There’s a huge range of pendant sizes available. Ultimately, your decision will come down to the size of your room, the size of the area over which they’ll be suspended, and the style you’re drawn to.

A good tip is to cut out circles of newspaper to the diameter of the pendants you are thinking about and put them on the island or surface table. Then look back from a distance and it will give you a good idea whether they are too small or too large or too close together

EBBB & FLOW Horizon Ceiling Pendants

However, without going to extremes, the bigger the better. Rather than using the size to control the level of illumination, consider the lumen measurement of the bulb. Or better still, install a dimmer so that the brightness can be adjusted depending on the task being carried out.

Ensure your wall dimmer switch is one of the newer kinds, designed specifically for LED bulbs. Your electrician will advise about this.

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EBB & FLOW Rowan Ceiling Pendants
Photography: Mad & Bolig Eva-Marie Wilken and Martin Sølyst

Which Style Of Pendant Should I Choose?

As with the size of the pendant, there are many style options, and your choice is a personal one. 

However, much of your kitchen lighting is probably hidden, such as strip lights under cabinets, or discreet/flush, such as spotlights in the ceiling or under cabinets. This is your opportunity to invigorate a neutral room, and put your own stamp on its style.

It makes sense to opt for glass or metal pendant lights, as they’re much easier to clean than fabric, but these are available in a multitude of colours and designs.

Clear glass is elegant and timeless. Coloured glass can add a pop of intensity to match a colour in your wall covering, cabinetry, accessories or crockery, or clash beautifully to create vibrancy and make a statement.

Industrial pendant lights might be antique brass, which would suit a classic kitchen, chrome which would enhance a modern or minimalist area, or copper, which adds warmth. 

Ferroluce Retro CUBO Ceiling Pendants

Ensure the cable is complementary to other parts of your kitchen, i.e gold if your cabinet handles are gold/brass.

Don’t forget about the look of the ceiling rose too.

Have you got an angled ceiling? Look for a pendant on a cable or a moveable rod so that the ceiling rose can be flush against the angle of the ceiling beam.

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Pantone Castor Pendants

How Many Pendant Lights Do I Need?

You’ll see lots of photographs of kitchen pendant lighting, and assume there is a ‘Rule of Three’, but that’s not necessarily set in stone. Above an island or dining table, three pendants can look stunning. Odd numbers are often more pleasing to the eye.

However, it depends on the size of the island or table. Two large pendants can look fabulous, or even five suspended above a long dining table. 

Ensure there is 15cm (6 inches) of clearance from the edge of the pendant to the end of the island or table, and 75cm (30 inches) between each pendant (or at least a space between each the same or larger than the pendant width). 

There is, of course, no limit to the amount of pendant lights you hang in your kitchen. You might have three above the island, one hanging over the kitchen sink, and others hanging over a food preparation area, again, at a different height to the others. 

We would not recommend hanging a glass pendant light directly over a hob, but otherwise, the pendant lighting world is your oyster.

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EBB & FLOE Lute Pendant Lights
Interior Designer: Barclay Interiors (Instagram @barclayinteriors)
Photography: James Balston (Instagram @jamesbalstoninteriors)

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