Best over the sink lighting ideas for your kitchen

It’s time to light up your world again … err, well at least your kitchen sink.

We’ve covered lots of lighting topics here. From coordinating your lighting fixtures to everything you need to know about kitchen lighting for your next residential interior design project.

So you definitely shouldn’t be afraid of the light by now. Can I get a watt watt? OK, OK enough with the light puns, already (at least they don’t come from a dark place).

Over the sink lighting can be easily overlooked when you’re more focused on all the other lighting elements that go into your kitchen, but it’s vital for both style and function.

So come into the light (last pun, promise) as we break down what you need to know.

Pendant vs. sconce: Over the sink lighting option

Direct light over the sink can be for function or for decorative purposes if you have a lot of other great task lighting nearby. Depending on your ceiling height, you can either use a pendant or a sconce if your sink is placed against a wall.

We always recommend putting any light fixture you pick over the sink on a dimmer switch, not to mention all your lights at least when it comes to accent ones. This is great for adding mood lighting or just having a little bit of illumination when the kitchen is not in use but you might be walking through it to get to another room.

If you go with a wall sconce, we recommend getting an adjustable one. This is great for accommodating people of various heights.

Whether you choose a pendant or sconce, you can have a little bit of fun by doing something different from your other fixtures. Remember, lighting should coordinate but not match.

That could mean doing a different finish over the sink than in other lights in the room. Black can be a really nice touch here.

Lights over kitchen island sinks and above windows

The most important thing for sinks in a kitchen island or those with windows above is to make sure you’re not obscuring the view — the last thing you want is to be trying to talk to guests with a big pendant in the way while you prepare dinner or drinks. And if you have a window, you definitely don’t want to be blocking that view and natural light.

You also want to make sure there’s enough clearance for taller people. No one wants to hit their head while trying to help you put the dishes in the sink after a party.

If you already have multiple pendants over the island that includes the sink, you might need to substitute the pendant over the sink with a can light instead so it doesn’t crowd the other lights or make it look like you’ve just walked into a lighting store. Make sure to put the canned light on a separate switch though, since you’re not going to always want the pendants AND the canned light on at the same time.

Finally, make sure you center the light over the sink, especially if you have a window above. It will just look way out of balance if you’re off even by a couple inches.

Choose the right size light above your sink

Centering the light isn’t the only thing dimension-wise that you need to worry about. There are all sorts of guidelines for over sink light fixtures.

You want to leave 30 to 40 inches between the countertop and the bottom of the light fixture. And when you’re doing that over the sink it’s important to still start at the countertop, not the bottom of the sink.

Pendants should hang about 12 to 20 inches below an 8-foot ceiling. Got taller ceilings? Yay you! Add 3 inches per foot of additional ceiling height, meaning a 9-foot ceiling yields 15-23 inches.

If your island pendants are the largest in the kitchen, you don’t want to use the exact same size for over your sink — that’s just too much and will through the scale completely out of balance.

The right size will depend on your sink, but typically you should aim for at least 6 inches if you have a normal size sink and up to 12 inches if you have one of those gorgeous super long farmhouse sinks. Basically, just make sure the scale matches.

As always, if all this seems too complicated — and it is a lot of measurements that’s for sure — hire a designer. That’s what we’re here to do. We promise to light up your life. (You didn’t really think I wouldn’t squeeze one more pun in, did you?)

For more design tips, sign up for our email list