Whether it’s cooking, sharing a meal with family or entertaining friends around your kitchen island, the right lighting can make or break your ambience.  While functionality is a priority in this area, the aesthetic or decorative aspect has gained equal importance in recent years. The kitchens we’ve seen on this season of The Block are testament to this trend with the perfect balance of practical and decorative lighting which helps create an attractive yet versatile space. If you’re in the middle of planning a kitchen transformation that looks like The Block, the good news is it’s perfectly achievable! Read on to learn how.

What you need to consider when selecting lights for a kitchen 

Start with knowing the measurements of your kitchen space. Note down the total size of the area, ceiling height and dimensions of your island and countertops. Understanding the space first will allow you to consider balance and scale, particularly when it comes to feature lighting.

Next is to consider how you use the space. For many, the kitchen is the central hub of the home and the kitchen island bench is used for many tasks, from cooking or entertaining to work and study. Take a moment to do a little needs analysis of how you and your family will use the space.

Luke & Jasmin's kitchen

Our Rivit pendant matches the scale and proportion of this kitchen space. The brass finish adds a layer of warmth and ties in perfectly with the light timber elements. Combined with our Accent Minitrim downlights, the lighting plan here provides a good balance between practical and decorative lighting – just what any home’s entertainment hub needs.

The three key layers of lighting 

Once you understand how your space will be used, you can then categorise these activities into whether they require general lighting, which provides the main lighting scheme for the area; task lighting, which highlights a specific work area; or accent lighting, which provides visual interest and a focal point. These different types of lighting are layered within the space.

LED downlights or oyster flush mount fittings provide general lighting, giving a good distribution of light for overall illumination. The built-in lighting over the cooktop is an excellent example of task lighting, designed to provide illumination for a specific activity. Consider strip lighting or individual built-in cabinet lights for a shadow-free work area.

Accent lighting is the visual detail that adds ambience to a kitchen. Consider wall lights, strip lighting under open shelving or under the bottom of a floor-mounted base cabinet, known as the toe kick/kickboard. Growing in popularity, this subtle use of strip lighting provides a clean architectural feature as it emphasises the shape and contours of the kitchen. By capturing our eye, accent lighting has a secondary goal of distracting from what we do not want to highlight in a kitchen. It can further brighten and visually expand the area to create an open and comfortable feel.

Sarah and George’s kitchen

This team nailed the layered lighting look! They used an architectural, minimalist pendant customised by Beacon Design Studio and manufactured in Melbourne by Masson For Light for their task layer and our Accent Minitrim downlights for general illumination. This was complemented by plenty of strip lighting on their shelves and under the cabinets to create a decorative feature as well as provide light over the cooktop.

How to light a kitchen island

Kitchen islands provide an array of lighting design opportunities. Options such as simple recessed or surface mounted downlights, decorative hanging pendant lights or industrial style track lighting allow you to introduce a touch of your personality into your home.

While you may be drawn to a particular fitting, consider if it ties in with the style of the rest of your home, be it modern, coastal, traditional or industrial. Evaluate whether the space is minimal or busy, as open plan style homes can call for something on a larger scale. Consider what style or colour the cabinetry and appliances are. If you have white cabinetry and want your pendants to stand out, perhaps choose a solid black fitting that will contrast.

An important factor to also take into consideration is the material of your pendant which can affect the distribution of light over your island. A pendant with a concrete shade will direct light downwards, while a glass shade will diffuse light outwards. As discussed earlier, by considering how you’ll use the space you can decide on a directional task light or a more ambient, open look.

The most common design choice for a kitchen island in recent years has been a trio of pendants evenly spaced over a long benchtop. For a shorter benchtop, you may only need two pendants or a single oversized pendant to achieve the same effect. To think outside the box, consider the layout of the island. There may be a sink, or seating area with bar stools to one end, where a single oversized pendant or a cluster of smaller pendants can be placed to one side of the bench. This allows you to mix shapes, sizes, colour and style of pendants to create your own feature.

Daniel & Jade’s kitchen

Daniel and Jade got creative with their pendant layout. They chose our Lexicon mix and match range to get a unique, customised look. They placed three Lexicon suspension cords paired with short shades in a row to cover the length of the island and clustered two more Lexicon suspensions with tall shades at different heights to create a feature over the curved seating area.


Surface mounted downlights are a sleek and minimalist alternative to a hanging pendant and a great option for lower ceilings. A row of two-four downlights, depending on the length of your island, depicts a modern and refined sense of style, whilst still being a form of functional task lighting. Consider installing them in pairs for a high-end architectural look.

Harry & Tash’s kitchen

Harry and Tash show what refined simplicity is all about. They placed four of our surface mounted Gypsum downlights in a neat row to highlight the length of their massive catwalk like island bench. This minimalist, practical design was complemented by the cleverly placed strip lighting which created a subtle ambience of luxury.  

The teams on The Block delivered some exceptional kitchens this season and no doubt, they are already setting trends.  Our lighting designers at Beacon Design Studio were thrilled to partner with The Blockheads on their lighting designs and if you need advice, they can help you create your dream kitchen too. Book here to discuss your plans with our experts.