There’s no right or wrong answer. Just as your island can be a stand-out piece when painted in a different colour or it can feel like a cohesive part of your kitchen when in the same tone as surrounding cabinetry, so too can island lighting go either way.
When you might want to opt for a bolder light is when you want emphasise the statement that is your island. Take our freestanding Carter island, for instance. It’s already an eye-catching addition to a kitchen because its oak and blackened steel construction is so completely unlike cabinetry, and hanging our bronze Keats conical pendants above it emphasises that more because their material picks up on the island’s.
You can also use striking island lighting to draw the eye to other features of the room. The trio of large grey Byron pendants in our Ink Suffolk kitchen scene works to highlight the airy height of the ceiling. And the white one above the Driftwood Charlecote island might be subtle in colour but its size and singularity are a statement that plays up the symmetrical layout and centrepiece cooker hood.
Going subtle, on the other hand, can still emphasise a room’s features, it’s just that this time those features are lightness and minimalism. When you have an off-white kitchen, for example. For this, choose pendants that are light in colour (white or nickel) and materials. Shaftesbury – both the original clear glass one and our new version with its ribbed design – is perfect, as is the Browning in Salt.
Finally, subtlety in island lighting is also your friend when there’s another aspect of the room that’s the star of the show. It could be wallpaper, a display on open shelving or a bold colour scheme (like in our Ink kitchen with the Olive island). Understated pendants will be happy to take a back seat here, meaning things don’t get too busy. Glass Shaftesbury is particularly perfect because your eye can just pass through it.