Looking for a hardworking light source for your kitchen that offers both function and form? Try kitchen pendant lighting. With a variety of applications and plenty of style options, kitchen pendant lights shine with beauty and practicality.

By Heidi King
Updated: April 26, 2017

Kitchen Pendant Lighting: The Basics

Whether you need to illuminate a specific task or update your decor, the right light makes all the difference in a room. A pendant does it all, providing overall light, which is used for all-purpose illumination; task lighting, which focuses light on a specific work area; and accent lighting, which highlights specific areas.

To avoid circles of super-bright light, consider a pendant with a light diffuser, or use semi-opaque bulbs. A pendant with a dimmer switch is the perfect mood-setter.

Choosing a Kitchen Pendant Light

For task lighting, choose a pendant that is open at the top so the light underneath is not too harsh. If you need overall light, space pendants evenly throughout the room or over the work area. A general rule: The larger the area you want to light, the bigger the pendant light should be. A small pendant light is effective over a sink or desk area. Cluster small pendants or choose a pendant with three or more lights over a dining room table or kitchen island.

Hanging a Kitchen Pendant Light

While the decorative options for pendant lights are vast, installation is also a key factor to consider for pendant lighting.

  • Pendants should hang 12-20 inches below an 8-foot ceiling. For each additional foot of ceiling height, add 3 inches. For example, for a 9-foot ceiling, the pendant should hang 15-23 inches below.

  • The pendant height can also be measured up from the surface below the light; provide a 30- to 36-inch clearance above tables and countertops. This is the most practical height, especially for pendants used for task lighting.
  • Pendants should be hung over work surfaces at a height that doesn't block views across the kitchen.
  • Consider dimmers and switches that offer opportunities to adjust the level of light to suit a task or mood.
  • Style Quotient

    Pendants come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. If the light fixture commands a prominent presence in the room, select a style that reflects your decor.

    Modern pendants made of glass and chrome exude sleekness. Shaded chandeliers can be either traditional or transitional. Glass orbs and shades have a retro look. Translucent-glass shades help reduce distracting glare. Select shades to match your kitchen style and lighting needs. Most lighting showrooms allow you to customize fixtures.

    Bright Ideas

    Pendant fixtures with retractable cords are easily adjustable to suit lighting for different tasks. Retract the light for allover diffused light, or pull it close for intimate dining.

    Long-lasting, energy-efficient, and dimmable lightbulbs are available in an assortment of attractive styles. Choose the bulb that best suits your lighting purposes for the pendant. Color and intensity influence the mood of the kitchen and the effectiveness of the light, whether its purpose is overall, task, or accent lighting.

    Install recessed lighting in your kitchen or other rooms of your home.

    Install recessed lighting.

    Learn more about lighting types for your kitchen.

    Get kitchen lighting tips.

    Discover tips about lighting and more design ideas and inspiration in our free Kitchen & Bath Ideas newsletter.

    Sign up for the weekly newsletter.

    Find the right flooring material for your next remodeling project with our free Flooring Material Finder.

    Find your flooring.


    Comments (1)

    June 3, 2019
    Hello, I was wondering where the pendent light shown in the 2nd picture came from (under “Choosing a pendent light” section. It’s the hammered glass look pendent above the sink. Thanks