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Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Breakfast Nook Lighting | 100+ Fixtures to Buy

March 28, 2022

Breakfast nook in corner with light fixture and art

Everything you need to know about choosing the perfect light fixture to hang in your breakfast nook or kitchen dining space, along with over 100 shoppable options for your modern farmhouse.

DESIGN + STYLE   |   Updated March 24, 2023

Corner of breakfast nook with light and art

In a breakfast nook, there aren't a lot of design choices to be made or places to inject style.

This small, set-apart dining area located in or near the kitchen needs little to be a comfortable place to eat, enjoy a morning cup of coffee, or flip through the newspaper.

For this reason, the few decorative objects and furniture included need to pack a punch. All the texture, color, and style are wrapped up in a few design elements, so you must be very intentional when choosing a table, chairs and light fixture. And at the same time, you must remember that what is chosen for this small space needs to coordinate with the style direction of the kitchen it adjoins.

Not every kitchen is going to have this special space available, but if you do, here are some tips to help guide you to make the best possible decision about your eating nook lighting, as well as some great modern and farmhouse style options you might like to buy.

Small breakfast nook with art on wall

Wall Mounted Fixtures

Katie Hodges Design @katiehodgesdesign

Working with a small space or don't want to spend for an electrician to install new wiring? Consider adding a wall mounted, plug-in light fixture like this corner nook. It's an easy way to add a little eating nook practically anywhere space allows.


Figuring Out the Correct Size + Shape Fixture

Hang a light that is too large for the space, and the entire room could feel dwarfed by it.  On the other hand, a light that is too small will be lost and can't act as the decorative accent that it should be.  You want whatever light you choose to be seen, but also not be the only thing you see. It must be scaled to the size of the space.


A good rule of thumb for choosing the right sized light for your room is to add the length and width of your room together (in feet) and choose that sized light in inches.

For example, a room that is 12 foot by 10 foot, needs a light that is about 22 inches around (12+10=22).

What if your eating nook isn't a full room, but is instead tucked into a corner? Measure the distance from where the light would hang to the wall in both directions to find the "size" of the room, double the two figures, then add them together as in the previous example.

If the space is just a bump out from the kitchen, double the distance from the light fixture to the wall and then add the number to the width of the space.


Ideally, the light fixture that you choose should be about three-fourths the size of the smallest width of your dining table. That way, it can be appropriately sized to light the entirety of your table, yet not so large that someone hits their head on it as they sit down.

So, if you table is 36 inches wide, you want a light fixture that is no more than 27 inches across (36x3/4=27).


Certain shapes pair better than others.

  • If you have a circular nook and/or table, a round light fixture will look most appropriate.  

  • For an extra long table, consider a rectangular option for a light or hang two pendants rather than just one to ensure enough light is cast on the entire table.

  • Square tables work with any shape of light fixture hanging above them.

Types of Light Fixtures to Consider

When shopping for a light to hang in a kitchen nook, there are a wide variety of finishes, materials and styles to choose from, as well as options about the number and type of bulbs included in a single fixture.

There are four main types of light fixtures to look at for this room:


Pendants are light fixtures mounted to a chain, stem, or wire and hang down over the table. They are often able to be adjusted vertically, allowing you to hang the light exactly where you need it.

This type of lighting includes styles like industrial barn lights, glass globe lights, and lights surrounded by sculptural metal or wood framing. They may be one single light or include multiple lights in the same fixture.

A hanging pendant is the option you will most likely end up with for the breakfast nook.


A chandelier is a hanging light with multiple arms coming off a central body. While many lend a formal style to a room, there are countless options with a contemporary, more laid-back vibe to choose from. A chandelier will likely have multiple small chandelier bulbs.

This option is best for ceilings that are about 10 feet or higher for proper clearance and will probably be your most expensive lighting option.


Flush mount light fixtures attach directly to the ceiling and attract minimal attention.

They are best for eating nooks with very low ceilings (about 8 feet high). They will provide adequate light for the nook area, but will not lend much to the overall style of the room.


Semi-flush mount lights are a combination of a flush mount fixture and chandelier.

This option is a great choice for rooms with low ceilings where you still want to have a statement light fixture. It will typically hang between 4 to 8 inches from the ceiling and work best for ceilings between 8 and 10 feet high.

An added benefit is semi-flush mount fixtures will direct light down to the room and light the ceiling at the same time making the room seem larger and the ceiling higher.

Breakfast nook with round table and chairs

Pay Attention to Ceiling Height

K Peterson Design @kpetersondesign

In eating nooks with lower ceilings like this one that Krissy designed, look for shorter pendants or semi-flush mount fixtures to maintain the proper distance between the table and light. You can keep the shade itself an average size, but it will need to have a shorter stem or adjustable chain to hang it from.

How Much Light Do You Need?

The exact number of bulbs and total wattage that you need depends on how large of a space you're trying to light and exactly what you need light for in the breakfast nook. If you like to do tasks at the table in the evening after the sun goes down you are going to need more light than if you only occasionally turn the light on for a cloudy morning.

Installing a dimmer switch in the breakfast nook allows you to alter the mood and brightness of the light so it is perfect any time of day.

Modern lighting is complicated even more when it comes to shopping for lightbulbs. While they may be more energy efficient, the terminology may leave you wondering what is best.

  • For the kitchen nook, you'll probably want to look for between 3000 and 4000 lumens to provide the right amount of light for your space. 

  • Also, the color temperature of the bulb will determine the way the room feels.  If you are looking for a traditional warm and cozy feeling (like that from an ordinary 100 Watt bulb) aim for a temperature of 2700K(Kelvins), or if you want a whiter light and more energetic feel, pick up a bulb around 4100K.

If shopping for modern lightbulbs is still leaving you confused, have a look at this article from Lumens about how to read the new light bulb labels.

Breakfast nook with table, built in bench and light fixture

Long Fixtures Over Long Tables

Tiffany Leigh @tiffanyleighdesign

When you have a long narrow table in your breakfast nook, try hanging a rectangular light fixture over it like Tiffany did in her Copper Beech build. This will ensure that the light is cast down the entirety of the table, while also adding visual balance.

How to Coordinate Breakfast Nook Lights with Kitchen Fixtures 

If your dining nook area is a part of the kitchen or opens directly into it, you'll want to find a light fixture that looks like it goes with the kitchen lighting. For example, if you have glass pendant lights over a kitchen island that are hanging from black metal poles, you don't want to choose a nickel-plated finish for the breakfast nook light.

At the same time, you should not choose the exact same light for the two spaces, because the contrast between the two is a great way to inject a little added style and accent the room with something different.

A few things to consider:

  • Only one light fixture can be front and center. As Carmel of Our Fifth House accurately questions "...Who is going to be the lead actor and who is going to take on a supporting role? Everyone is important to the play, but not everyone is a star..." 

  • You want the light fixtures in the breakfast nook and kitchen to go together, without completely matching.  Look for lights that are in the same finish and material family (e.g. all oil-rubbed bronze) and also look for ones with similar lines and style (e.g., all modern style or all with curved elements rather than straight lines) .  

  • While you want similarities, see if you can also vary some elements.  For example, maybe one fixture could have glass hurricane shades or brass accents.

  • If you have multiple pendants hanging over a kitchen island, choose just one light fixture for the breakfast nook. Too many individual light fixtures ends up looking cluttered.

Minimalist breakfast nook with table and light

For more inspiration from talented designers and bloggers, check out this board filled with over 100 different breakfast nooks and light fixture ideas..

A few more tips to think about...

How High Should You Hang the Breakfast Nook Light Fixture?

Your lighting choice should hang at a height of 30" to 36" inches above your tabletop depending on the height of your ceiling.  This keeps the fixture from being so low that it blocks your view of guests at the table or interferes with a centerpiece, yet hangs close enough to still shine light over the table.

Don't Block a Great View

If your eating nook has a great view of the outdoors or windows that allow a lot of light to stream in, you'll want to choose a light fixture you can see through rather than one with a heavy shade.  This way, you can still see through the fixture to the outside and light can shine through it.

Is Shopping for a Breakfast Nook Light Different Than Kitchen or Dining Room Lighting?

When shopping for lighting, you must go about it differently in a breakfast nook than in a larger dining room or the kitchen.

  • Typically, the room is smaller and will have a more understated, casual feel so an elaborate dining room chandelier would stylistically be too much (although if that is the look you want, by all means, go for it.)

  • Also, it is likely that the room has windows and receives plenty of natural light for the majority of the day, so a large, bright fixture is not as crucial.

  • And finally, lighting in the nook is ambient lighting. You are not trying to illuminate the entire kitchen or in need of bright direct light for tasks like chopping ingredients or washing dishes. It is a decorative fixture that comes in handy on dark mornings or when children are doing homework at the table in the evening.

Now that we've discussed exactly what to look for, here are some favorite options for buying a modern farmhouse style breakfast or kitchen nook light fixture.


Want to see even more lights? Browse through this curated collection of over 100 of my favorite eating nook light fixtures for any budget available through a partnership with Side Door, which allows me to offer you designer home goods directly from the manufacturers.

A collection of posts walking you through step by step to buying what you need for your home.

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