Essential Guide to Pendant Lighting: Sizing, Spacing & More

August 31, 2022

3 woven pendant lights above a kitchen island.

It can lift moods, shift ambiance, increase the warmth of your home and even impact your productivity. Whether or not you recognize it, your home’s lighting is everything – but getting it right can be confusing – especially when it comes to working with pendants. From sizing to spacing, height and number of fixtures, consider this your go-to pendant lighting guide.

Kitchen Island Pendant Lighting Guide

Pendant lights hung over a kitchen island is the gold standard of kitchen lighting. Not only do pendants offer an alternative and often warmer glow to ceiling cans or overhead fixtures, they also serve as spotlights for your kitchen’s focal point or primary gathering spot. Additionally, your island pendants can be an eye-catching design element that makes your kitchen pop – when they’re done right, of course.

Number of Pendant Lights over Kitchen Island

Before you choose size, shape and height, you’ll want to know how many pendants you should hang above your island. In design, the “rule of three” applies to pendant lighting – but not in all cases. While odd numbers tend to please the eye, the number of fixtures you’ll need depends on the length of your island as well as the diameter of your pendants.

A good rule of thumb is to use two pendant lights for islands shorter than 6 feet and three for islands longer than 6 feet. Of course, you’ll also need to consider the size of your pendants. For example, you could use three small (10-inch or less) pendants above a 6-foot island, while the same space should only accommodate two larger (15-18-inch) pendants.

To determine the optimal width of your fixtures, subtract 12 inches from the width of your island to get your maximum diameter. For example, if you have a 3-foot island, you’ll subtract 12 from 36, giving you a 24-inch maximum.

Kitchen Island Pendant Spacing

Pendant Spacing Over Kitchen Island


You may have already determined the optimal size of your kitchen island pendants, but keep in mind that you’ll want to keep as much space between the pendants as the width of the fixture itself. For example, if the diameter of your pendant is 20 inches, you’ll need to space the fixtures so there’s at least 20 inches between each pendant (at their widest point). Keep in mind that 18 inches is the minimum space you’ll want between pendants, regardless of size. So for 10-inch pendants, keep the spacing at or round 18 inches.

Additionally, you should always leave at least half the diameter of the pendants at either end of the island. So if your pendant is 16 inches wide, you should leave at least 8 inches from the end of the island to the edge of the outermost pendant.

Height of Pendants Over Kitchen Island

No one wants to bump their head while chopping veggies, so be sure your pendant length is on point. Ideally, the bottom of your pendants should sit 30 to 36 inches above your island countertop. If you have high ceilings (9-foot and above), try hanging pendants closer to the 36-inch mark, while 8-foot ceilings will likely only accommodate a 30-inch gap between the countertop and the pendant.

Single Pendant Over Kitchen Island Guidelines

Single Pendant Over Kitchen Island

Photo: A House Full of Sunshine

There’s no shame in being single – even when it comes to kitchen island pendants. A single fixture should be on the larger side (we recommend a rectangular or linear shape) but should not be longer than 2/3 the length of your island. So if you have a 7-foot island, keep your single fixture to 56 inches long. A single pendant should always be hung in the center of the island, but keep in mind that the same guidelines for pendant width and hanging height apply to singles.

Single Pendant Lighting Over Dining Room Table Guide

Whether you’re throwing a festive dinner party or enjoying an intimate family dinner, your dining room ambiance hinges on your lighting – and we understand that choosing the right fixture can be intimidating.

To determine the right size of pendant over your dining room table, first measure your table. A good rule of thumb is to select a pendant that is one-half to three-quarters the width of your table. For example, you’d want a pendant around 30 to 45 inches in diameter if you have a five-foot round table. For oval and rectangular tables, this rule also applies, but you can go for a more elongated pendant or chandelier.

Dining Room Single Pendant Height

Single Dining Table Pendant Light Spacing


As with kitchen island pendants, dining room pendants should be hung 30 to 36 inches above the lower surface – in this case your dining room table. This space eliminates visual obstructions for anyone seated at the table. For high ceilings (9 feet and above), 36 inches between the table and the bottom of the pendant is ideal. For 8-foot ceilings, shoot for 30 inches.

Centering Dining Room Pendant

Single dining room pendants and chandeliers should always be centered above the dining room table – not centered within the dining room. While your dining room might incorporate other elements – a sideboard or china hutch, for example – your table should serve as your focal point, with your lighting enhancing that focus. Don’t worry about the fixture not looking centered in the room; it will look far more balanced centered over the table.

Single Pendant Over Dining Room Table

Photo: DecorPad

Pendant Light Paring and Colors

In today’s open concept homes, creating a design that flows from space to space is critical. That’s why you never want to select your kitchen or dining room pendants in a vacuum. While they don’t need to match (in fact, we love it when they don’t), your pendants should have design elements that vibe.

Choose fixtures that share common characteristics – whether that’s the style (midcentury, coastal, transitional, etc.), the metal or material. Don’t be afraid to mix metals, but don’t do it haphazardly either. Your metals should flow with others within your home and space. For example, if your kitchen knobs are brass and your faucet is matte black, you might select elements of either for your pendant lighting. While it might be tempting to find a one-stop shop, you can keep your space from feeling monotonous by not selecting fixtures from the exact same collection.

Pendant Lighting Tips

Pendant Lighting Tips
Photo: Decoholic
Pendant lighting is an effective way to introduce more ambient lighting into your space. That’s why we always recommend our clients use a dimmer switch and dimming bulbs on pendants – both over the island and the dining room table. This allows you to play with the light depending on time of day or occasion.

It can be difficult to picture your pendant’s spacing and height. If you haven’t yet selected fixtures, we recommend inflating a balloon to various diameters and hanging them at the appropriate height and spacing to get a feel for the number of fixtures you’d prefer – and how you’d like them hung. Also keep in mind that not every pendant is adjustable, so if you have a short – or very high – ceiling, you’ll want to make sure the length works in your space prior to purchasing.

Getting your pending lighting right can be tricky, but with this guide – and our extensive collection of rattan pendant lighting options – you’re sure to be designing like a pro in no time.