The heart of your home and your most lived-in space, your kitchen is where you make meals, prep after-school snacks, and everything in between. More than any other room in your home, it is important to make sure that your kitchen has multiple layers of intentional lighting. Here, we breakdown how to choose kitchen lighting to help you find the right lighting to illuminate this hardworking space.

Start with Overhead Lighting

No matter what kind of kitchen you have, large or small, good kitchen lighting starts with overhead lighting. This is the ambient lighting that reinforces the natural light that your kitchen already receives. This can be a pendant, flush, or semi-flush fixtures. Pendants are great for above an island, while several semi-flush mount lights may work best for galley-style kitchens.

Layer in Support Lighting

Brighten the spaces around your overhead lighting and highlight specific areas with support lighting—essential directional light that makes your space functional and illuminates the tasks you’ll be performing most.

Illuminate Your Island: Most islands act as a multipurpose space for prepping, cooking, and serving meals. Depending on the size of your island, installing several pendants or a small chandelier will provide ideal illumination for your entire space, choose pendants with a glass or light linen shade for a brighter source of ambient light. If your kitchen already has ceiling lights elsewhere, your island is where you want to add additional support lighting—directional light to illuminate the tasks you’ll be performing most. A pendant light with a metal shade will focus light downward on specific tasks like food prep or clean up.

Remember the rule of three: Three pendant lights will look balanced when evenly spaced to fill the span of a larger island, but don't be afraid to only use two pendants in smaller spaces.

Spotlight on Your Sink: Support lighting is also necessary above the kitchen sink—where you need to shine light on tasks like dishwashing or food prep. Elevate the area with a simple yet beautiful style like our Foster light with a clear glass shade.

Don't Forget the Dining Nook: An eat-in dining area is the perfect spot to add an elegant chandelier or an oversized pendant light that will bring style and personality to your space. From rectangular chandeliers above a banquette-style setup to modern pendants with colorful metal shades in small dining nooks, we have a range of styles and shades to suit every aesthetic.

Find the Right Finish

Consider the style you are going for when you are selecting the finish and consider the hardware you already have in your kitchen. Depending on the light fixture, the finish you choose can give the finished piece a different look. Decide whether you want to consolidate your finishes for a more polished look or mix your finishes for a slightly more eclectic vibe. If you choose to mix finishes, we advise choosing one finish for all your lighting and one for your hardware. Brass tones add warmth to a space, while Oil-Rubbed Bronze brings contrast and precision. Polished Chrome and Polished Nickel are classic choices if you are looking for a more streamlined, contemporary look.

Select a Shade

The shade style, size, and material you choose affects the light output. Many of our customizable fixtures come with many shade options—from vintage-inspired schoolhouse shades to sleek metal designs.

  • Clear glass: A clear glass shade will illuminate your entire space with bright ambient light. A glass shade pairs best with a filament bulb—we have 50+ styles to choose from.

  • Opal glass: Choose an opal glass shade for plenty of bright, 360-degree light with a more diffused glow than clear glass.

  • Metal: A metal shade focuses the light downward, making it an ideal option for targeted tasks or activities. If your kitchen has plenty of bright ambient light elsewhere, add pendants with metal shades above your island for more direct light above your cooktop or workspace.

  • Linen: Fabric linen shades are best for above an eat-in dining space, due to the moisture in the air closer to the sink or cooktop.

Configure & Customize

All of our lighting is customizable and assembled to order at our Portland, Oregon factory—this means you can create a one-of-a-kind light that is configured-to-order for your space. Once you've picked the fixture style, finish, and shade, it's important to ensure you're ordering the right size and length.

Consider how big the fixture will feel in your space once it has the shade you've selected. Whether you're going for an oversized fixture or a streamlined trio of pendants, measuring your space accurately is key.

Here are a few quick guidelines that we recommend when measuring your space:

  • The distance from the island countertop to the bottom of the fixture's shade should be 30-36 inches.
  • 26-30 inches is the ideal distance between multiple pendants or lights.
  • Allow 12 inches from the edge of the island to the light fixture.

Depending on the size of your space and kitchen island, some adjustments might be necessary. Test out your measurements by hanging a piece of paper or a balloon from a string taped to the ceiling—this will help you visualize how much space the light will take up and the right distance it should be from the floor or your workspace.

See our guide for How to Customize Your Light Fixture to see how you can create the right combination for your space, and shop our customizable lighting selection to get started.