Please share your island lighting with me

Melissa-KitchenNovember 13, 2012

I am in the process of planning the update on our kitchen. Everyone has been amazingly helpful with your suggestions so I am asking for any suggestions when it comes to lighting over the island.

This is my before picture of the kitchen (realtor photo). I am replacing the counters with granite (perhaps Santa Cecilia), painting the cabinets white, removing the appliance garage, new backsplash...

The fluorescent light that we have there gives off a ton of light. I'd like the lighting over the island to produce as much light as possible since I find the kitchen dark.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or pictures that you post. I don't know what I would do without everyone's expertise.


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Your kitchen seems to have one recessed light at present, in addition to the fluorescent fixture over the island. From my perspective the ideal solution would be to fish the wires from the existing can and add more cans for a total of two or three on both sides of the island. Then I would put an attractive fixture or a couple of pendants over the island, they would need to provide down light, for good task lighting as it looks that your island will be your main prep space.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 3:24PM
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I agree with local eater that you need to evaluate your recessed lighting situation, although I suspect you have more that the one we see in this photo. Are those under-cabinet lights I see in the photo? If so, that's good, otherwise you'll love them when you install them. As far as replacing the overhead florescent, pendant lights work amazingly well. We had a single florescent much like yours in our "before," and replaced it with recessed lights, UCLs, and 2 pendents. We were just commenting last night while working on something at the peninsula how totally illuminating the pendents are. We have a not-quite 7' peninsula vs. your island, but the principle is the same. You might consider one of the lights that are several lights on a snakey track. I hate to say "track lights" because that sounds so 1980 - the new ones are much better. I think you'll also find that your kitchen will seem much lighter with the cabinets painted white. Unless you really don't have UCLs, it seems like there should be plenty of real light vs. perceived light.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Thank you for the input. Yes, I presently have two cans (one near the pantry and a second near the desk area that is not seen in this picture. I planned on putting in more recessed lighting but I am unsure how easy that will be since there is no attic above. I have someone coming soon to give me an estimate but kind of wanted to figure out what I wanted before he came. I also find that the recessed lighting that we presently have doesn't give off very much light so I might replace those two at the same time. I rarely use them because they are not bright and have relied on the fluorescent light and the chandelier that we have over our table. (The table is to the right of the picture.)

As I said, I'd love to see pictures of everyone's islands. I have really only been looking online so far and have seen pendants, as well as chandeliers that have 2 or 3 lights for the island. I'm just not sure what look I am going for. I'd like to have a better idea of how they look in the space before I purchase one.

Thanks again!

Here is a link that might be useful: example of 3 light island chandelier

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Thanks for the input suzannes1. You were commenting while I was responding. Yes, we have under cabinet lighting to the right as well as over the desk area (not shown.) We only have 2 recessed lights though so maybe I will add two more and the pendants. I am glad to hear that your pendant lights give you a lot of light. I was worried that I'd be losing a lot of light.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:12PM
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Just making dinner and I realized I forgot that we also have lighting over the sink.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Melissa, just wanted to share this thing I came across the other day in my own island lighting search. It is a canopy conversion plate, it fits over a regular ceiling fixture junction box, and enables you to connect three pendants.
Thought it might be helpful.
Also, you may not be limited to just one fixture over the island, there may not be any box there at all at present for the fluorescent light. Sometimes they are direct wire, which means there are just wires coming out of the ceiling and the electrician will need to install a box. If that is the case he can just as easily install two.

Here is a link that might be useful: canopy conversion plate

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:31PM
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Hi Melissa, we took out two fluorescents similar to yours. I was also concerned about lighting, especially since our kitchen is north facing. We put in 9 LED cans (eco-smart from HD, they're made by Cree). I knew I would also need larger pendants. The cute little ones just wouldn't do it in my dark kitchen. I love the ones we put in. They give off plenty of extra light.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 1:23AM
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Here are my lanterns...they give off tons of light.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 5:47AM
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Localeater, thanks for the info about the canopy conversion kit. Of course, I had no clue it existed. I'll order one if we go with the smaller pendants.

Camphappy, our kitchen is north facing too and we have California shutters on our windows so I am concerned about light too. It's pretty dark in here. I'll take a look at some of the larger lights like yours to see if they'll fit in our space.

Nini804, can you please send me over your entire kitchen? This is EXACTLY what I want but we're not replacing our cabinets. I am VERY jealous!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:01AM
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Here are my island pendants:

I was adamant about having down-lights so that they'd be effective task lighting. But the higher wattage, clear bulbs were too glaring for my eyes, so I replaced them with lower wattage frosted, and now they don't light as well. Also, the spacing was dictated by the coffers in the ceiling, not the island, so there's a large dead space right where I prep. My kitchen has lots of other lighting (natural and warm LED), so it's all good. But I thought I'd post this as a cautionary tale on spacing and balancing lumens and glare.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Debbi Branka

We used 3 pendants over the working area (3x6') and 2 pendants over the table area (4x5') of our island. We also have can lights around the kitchen (already there before we bought, but I'm happy with them). We also just added UTC lighting which gives us a LOT more light. Someone on GW pointed me to the pendants; they are George on They had hundreds of lights and all can be configured in the finish and type of shade you want, length, type of light, etc.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:59PM
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nini804: Sorry to disrupt the thread but your kitchen is beautiful and if I were to change from the polished nickel industrial style lights I am planning I think I would go for the pendants that you have over your island. Could you tell me where you got them and what size they are?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:33AM
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Another thought: having an electrician out to scope out what's possible is a good idea, but electricians aren't lighting designers. They're really good with getting things hooked up and have some ideas based on jobs they've done before, but it might be a good idea to go to a lighting store and let them propose some solutions you might not think of otherwise. Yeah, they want to sell you stuff, but they're also up on what's available, how to make the most of your space lighting-wise, alternatives to get around not having an attic, etc. You aren't committed just by walking in and picking their brains - you might buy from them, you might not.

Of all the things we did for the kitchen, the lighting was the area I really had no clue about. I walked into Fergusons and they were very helpful. It could help.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Hi Melissa,
I asked some questions about skipping pendants over the island a bit ago, so I'll link you to the discussion. I'm not trying to discourage you from getting them, I think they can look great, but they aren't required to have a bright kitchen.

Camp Happy--Gasp. You have the exact window configuration I've sketched up for our kitchen. I've copied your photo to show DH. Well done! Your place looks great!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pendants or no pendants over the island?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 8:44PM
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We did drum lights over the island.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 11:56PM
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Thank you everyone for your comments.

Suzannes1, perhaps a lighting designer would be helpful. I'll have to call our local lighting stores and see if they make house calls. Either that or I could bring pictures in. I'm kind of getting ahead of myself choosing the lighting but couldn't decide on brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze cup pulls and thought that if a certain fixture called my name, it would make my decision easier. I planned on looking at a nice lighting store yesterday but ran out of time.

Laughable, I have considered skipping the pendants too. I might do the balloon trick that people have mentioned in other threads and see if my vision is obstructed. Since I spend 90% of my time preparing foods on the island, I want to make sure that the pendants aren't in my line of sight.

Thanks again for everyone's help!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:42AM
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Just a different point of view-we knew we wanted pendants, and we wanted a lot of specific task lighting too. We get a lot of natural light from the skylight, but also went with UCL and pendants. Lighting is hard, and we went through several iterations before getting what we really wanted, both aesthetically and functionally. The pendants sort of fade into the background as well:

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 12:25PM
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leela--where did you get your pendants? I really like how they are simple and blend in.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:14PM
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Here is an earlier, similar thread. I used track lighting to layer pendant and task lighting, plus to add some structure to the ceiling. Tons of other ideas in this thread too:

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:23PM
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cathy-They are from Bruck lighting and are the Rainbow II down pendants in turquoise. We got them through a local store; their prices were better than anything we could find online.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

My pendants...over sink and 3 over island all match....

When the light is out, you can see the ombre effect in the glass. It is very important to look at fixtures with lights both on and off as they can look very different.

Here is GF's kitchen....she didn't put lights over her peninsula, despite my strong urgings to do so, but she picked a lovely pendant over the sink.

I didn't take a picture of it with the lights off, but it's a real blue/green that blends beautifully with her verde karzai granite.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:32PM
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