Which light to buy for kitchen island?
December 3, 2010 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a light fixture for a kitchen island?

We current have a standard builder's fluorescent light with four 48 inch bulbs and it's ugly as all get out. We have a beautiful kitchen though, with lots of stainless and granite but the current fixture, which is used for ambient lighting, is an eyesore. We do have some canned lights along with under cabinet lighting so the ambient lighting aspect is not too important.

Island is about 7 feet long by 3 feet at its widest and is topped with labrador green granite. Island is not used for kitchen tasks and will be used for seating once Ms. Qsysopr finds the right stools (it's been 6 years).

Bonus points for an Amazon item.
posted by qsysopr to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
No specific brands to recommend but we have a very similar sized island (also with green granite) and we have two pendants over it. They hang down just above eye level and light it up nicely. They also look pretty.
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on December 3, 2010

Yeah, we have 3 pendants over our island. The big kind of pendants. Our island is slightly bigger than yours and the pendants do really well. But each pendant has its own wiring box, though they are wired together to one switch.

More than likely your big flourescent light has one wiring box underneath. Depending on how it is hung, it may leave other artifacts on the ceiling drywall when you remove it. You may want to get a single track track lighting bar and then hang 2 or 3 pendants on it.
posted by cmm at 8:26 AM on December 3, 2010

Something like this is what I'm trying to describe poorly above:
posted by cmm at 8:28 AM on December 3, 2010

The last apartment I lived in had a kitchen peninsula with two pendant lights hanging above it. Most of their problems stemmed from bad design and poor planning, but I HATED them.

Problem 1: Either they were hung with no thought or hung to the specifications of my 5 foot tall landlady, because my 5'7" self would always smack my head on them any time I was doing anything on that part of the counter.

Problem 2: The light bulbs are visible and right at eye level. So either you put a low-wattage bulb in them and it wasn't bright enough or you put a high wattage bulb in that would blind you any time you looked into the kitchen on an even plane.

Problem 3: Maybe the cords were too long or they weren't heavy enough or what, but every time the air kicked on the lights would sway. If you were in the room doing any kind of close work it would make you feel sea sick.

For something that seems to work well: I have seen the equivalent of stage lights used over kitchen islands in several places, and they all look great. Some cursory googling suggests these are called track lights. Track lighting gets my vote.
posted by phunniemee at 8:30 AM on December 3, 2010

I'd replace the fluorescent fixture with line voltage or track lighting with halogens. 7x3ft? 5 lights should certainly do it, probably 4 and maybe even 3.
posted by rhizome at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2010

Not sure where you live, but California code requires 50% of your kitchen lighting to be fluorescent or other high efficiency lighting.
posted by doctord at 1:46 PM on December 3, 2010

Look for island pendants, which sometimes are also called billiard lighting.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:38 PM on December 3, 2010

Since you have one light right now and therefore one electical box or connection, you probably want either a billiard table light or track lighting.

You might be bothered by some or all of the things phunniemee noted about the pendant lights. I didn't mind any of those things, though I wasn't crazy about the visual clutter. There were three brass tubes (adjustable to any length) and three translucent white glass shades. I did like the white glass shades because they allowed light to be cast above as well as below. Wire-suspended pendants can be adjusted, too.

I haven't had track lighting in my own house, but I've noticed that it can be either inconspicuous or it can be noticeable in a cool way. (Pendants tend to look traditional, though some of the shades are beautiful.)

The light you have now may have caused marks on the ceiling, but flat paint is quite easy to touch up. A Mister Clean Magic Eraser can remove many types of scuffs and residue from fixtures; dampen it slightly and use a very light touch. You might need a couple of passes with fine sandpaper, and maybe a dab of primer. Don't try to paint over dark marks; remove or hide them before doing the finish coat. It blends in better if you pat the paint on with lightly loaded brush at the edges of the area.
posted by wryly at 6:27 PM on December 3, 2010

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