Proper Height for Lights Over a Kitchen Table

Lights over kitchen tables are typically used for several purposes other than illuminating the area during eating. Kitchen tables are also used for homework, hobbies and crafts, playing board games and conducting family business, so the lighting needs to be multi-functional and properly placed.

Pendant Fixtures

Kitchen lights are hung at different heights depending on style and location.

Pendant lighting fixtures should hang 30 inches above the table. For round kitchen tables with single pendant lighting, the fixture’s diameter should be 12 inches smaller than that of the table. If multiple fixtures are used, adjust the diameters accordingly, and space the lights so the table is illuminated evenly on all sides. Use the same calculations for square tables and for rectangular tables, installing pendant fixtures that are 12 inches narrower than the smallest side of the table.

For kitchens that use a counter or breakfast bar as a kitchen table, the best lighting is achieved through installing equally spaced small pendant fixtures so the bottom of the shades are about 66 inches off the floor, which provides those seated at the counter a clear view into the kitchen. The general rule is to install one fixture for every 2 feet of the length of the counter. The best balance of light is achieved with an odd number of fixtures.


Although chandeliers are commonly used in formal dining areas, they can also be used over kitchen tables. For maximum light without glare, from an 8-foot ceiling hang the fixture so the bottom is 30 inches above the top of the table. Lower the chandelier position by 1 inch for each additional inch of ceiling height. For example, an 11-foot ceiling would have a chandelier that is 33 inches above the tabletop. To create balance between the fixture and a square or rectangular table, the chandelier should be a minimum of 12 inches narrower in diameter than the width of the table. For instance, a table that is 60-by-72 inches would require a chandelier a minimum of 48 inches in diameter. For round or oval tables, ask a lighting professional for the best chandelier table size and shape configuration.

Recessed Lighting

Installing recessed or track lighting around the perimeter of the kitchen provides adequate light for dining and entertaining and, when used in conjunction with a chandelier or pendant fixture, can brighten the room for reading, writing or crafts. Strategically place a minimum of four lights in the ceiling surrounding the kitchen table so they evenly illuminate the area.

Tips and Hints

If household members are exceptionally tall or short, adjust the height of pendants and chandeliers to accommodate their views and avoid bumping into the fixtures. Installing dimmers on all the lights lets you control the illumination in the room and create ambiances for different situations and occasions.

About the Author

Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.