Creativity when lighting your island can often be thwarted by practicality, but it doesn’t have to be this way…
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
You don’t always have to go for the obvious task lighting or ceiling spots to cast light on your kitchen island. Check out these alternative ideas that will add some interest – as well as illumination – to your work surface.
More in this series 7 Times Statement Pendants Made a Dining Area
Stand out on a budget
This pale, airy room shows that you really don’t need to assume ‘statement pendant’ equals ‘loadsamoney’. Here, it’s the unexpected nature of two very simple matching lampshades that gives this open-plan room a designer feel.
Paper lampshades are just about the most purse-friendly option you’ll find, but choose giant ones and you’re starting to shake things up a little. Put them in an unconventional spot – and as a double or triple act – and things will get more interesting still.
The soft, diffused light they give off is perhaps not the obvious choice for task lighting, but here you’ll see that the lamps are above the island sink (above a hob, for fire safety and extraction reasons, would probably not be wise), while cooking and plenty of workspace are behind them, and can have their own task lighting.
Put your pendants on dimmers so you can create bright light when needed and mood lighting the rest of the time. Kitchens need atmosphere, too!
Reflect your surroundings
This kitchen is in a house by the sea in West Sussex. Although it’s a clean-lined and contemporary space, the addition of these giant wicker shades, reminiscent of lobster baskets, is a touch that adds depth and atmosphere, along with the wooden chairs and accessories and the wall panelling.
For authenticity, you may be able to find something in a suitable shape – an actual vintage lobster basket, for example – that a savvy electrician will be able to turn into a shade for you.
Lots of places sell cool individual lighting components – from ceiling roses to interesting cables and characterful bulb holders – so you can really let your inner designer have some fun.
Tempted to fit pendant lights? Browse the easy-to-use Houzz Directory to find an electrician in your area
Employ the power of one
When you have a micro island like this one, there’s nothing to stop you going with just one overhead light. For max illumination as well as style, choose a design that allows you to show off a bare filament-type bulb in all its glory.
Click on the photo to view the rest of this kitchen, where you’ll see the designers have also included a peninsula unit with a more conventional row of pendants, too.
Go forth and multiply
Found a pendant you love? Buy them all! Just as in gardening, where planting lots of the same type of shrub can give a rich yet uncluttered look, adding multiples of one particular accessory to a room can make for a stylishly pulled-together scheme.
Choosing a barely there design, like these delicate Moooi Random shades or something that matches the colour of your walls and ceiling, is a good direction to follow. Although there are lots of shades here, they don’t overwhelm the space.
Always fit a dimmer when maxing on overhead lighting to allow you to alter the room’s mood easily.
Big up colour
All that bespoke storage and the smooth surfaces created by handleless units mean that contemporary-style kitchens can be hard to personalise.
Open shelving is one route you could go down, but lighting also provides an excellent way to add character.
In this airy cookspace, interest comes in the form of bold colour and scale. Note how the chunky matt shades contrast with – and pleasingly disrupt – the sleek, glossy cupboards, adding a layer of texture as well as rich blue.
Try to choose a palette of brights and dot them around both the room and your whole home to give a sense of flow and continuity.
How do you light your kitchen island? Let us know in the Comments section.
Metal Cage Table Lamp/Pendant Light, Mint Blue and Yellow – £87
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