Don’t limit lighting to downlights. Depending on the location consider wall sconces or uplighting to create a softer ambiance and avoid potentially harsh downlighting that can cast ominous shadows.
When hanging a light over a table or a kitchen island 28 to 34 inches is the recommended distance from the bottom of the light to the surface of the table or island. However the size of the light makes a difference. In general a smaller light can be moved lower and a larger light can be moved higher.
Downlighting is just that: lighting that shines down to illuminate a space. Down lighting can sometimes be referred to as general lighting. Once it was simply the only light source in a room — that single fixture in the middle of the ceiling. If this is your only option placement and quantity of fixtures are the keys to attaining a balanced lighting level while reducing dark corners. Pot lights are also considered downlighting.