Some dine beneath it, some swing from it, but a chandelier will always be the quintessential lighting option when you want to marry form and function for maximum impact. A stunning piece of lighting adds elegance to any room in your home, and a chandelier – when placed right – can also help define your design aesthetic, whether it’s the focal point of the space or simply a supporting element.
While chandeliers are often placed in entryways and above dining tables, there’s no need to restrict their functionality. A chandelier can also be a lovely choice in a living room, over a kitchen island, in a master bedroom or even in a powder room or walk-in closet. The world – or at least your home – is your oyster, but there are a few important factors to consider when selecting and placing chandeliers. Our comprehensive guide can help you choose the right chandelier for your space – and show you how to hang it for maximum design impact.
Size and height of the chandelier
When it comes to selecting a light fixture – particularly one as impactful as a chandelier, it’s important to channel Goldilocks – you want something “just right” for the space. After all, a chandelier made for a cottage won’t work in a castle and vice versa.
Size: how big a chandelier do I need?
To determine the right size fixture for your space, first decide whether it will be hanging in the center of the room or above a table or counter. If the chandelier will be in the center of the room, measure the room in feet, then add the two numbers together. This sum becomes the recommended diameter in inches of the room’s fixture. For example, if your space is 10 x 10 feet, shoot for a 20-inch chandelier. A room that’s 12 x 16 feet needs a 28-inch fixture and a 15 x 17-foot space can handle a 32-inch sparkler. While this “rule” can be broken where it makes sense – for example in an entryway that’s vaulted but not necessarily large – keep it in your back pocket when you need a standard size guide.
If your chandelier will be hanging over a table or island, you’ll want to base its size on the structure below it for obvious reasons – your dinner guests won’t want to bump into hanging crystals every time they stand up. For a single chandelier hanging above a dining table, a good rule of thumb is to select a fixture that is one-half to three-quarters the width of your table. For example, you’d want a chandelier around 30 to 45 inches in diameter if you have a five-foot round table.
If you’re opting for a single chandelier over a kitchen island, a linear fixture often works very well, but make sure it’s no longer than two-thirds the length of your island. That means if you have a 7-foot island, keep your chandelier to 56 inches long. If your island is more of a square or you’re going for a single round chandelier, keep the diameter of your fixture between one-half and two-thirds the width of your island. For more information on hanging lighting fixtures above tables and kitchen islands, check out our Essential Guide to Pendant Lighting.
Height: standard recommendations for chandeliers
While size matters when it comes to lighting fixtures, height can also become a key factor. As a standard recommendation, chandeliers should be hung no lower than 7.5 feet above the floor for ceiling heights of 9 to 12 feet. That said, if you have particularly high or vaulted ceilings, you’ll want to consider hanging the fixture higher. This not only feels more balanced, but also makes the room feel more spacious. When you’re hanging a chandelier above a table or countertop, make sure the bottom of the fixture hangs between 30 and 36 inches above the surface.
Where should I use a chandelier?
In short, anywhere. A chandelier can add sophistication, warmth and ambiance to any space in your home. Keep in mind that chandeliers make a big impact, so you’ll want to use discretion when deciding which room or rooms will house a big fixture. You’ll also want to consider the function and design of the space when determining the chandelier’s placement within the room.
In a living room, a chandelier can be a showstopper when hung in the center of the room, or it could feel more naturally placed to balance a focal point or architectural feature like a fireplace or large piece of artwork. Keep in mind that, depending on the layout of your living room, the center of the room may not be the center of your seating area. In many cases, your chandelier will look best when centered over a seating area or coffee table rather than smack dab in the middle of the room.
Above Dining Table
If you're placing a chandelier above your dining table, make sure it’s centered over the table – not centered within the room itself. As noted above, you’ll also need to make sure there’s enough clearance for people to walk around the table without bumping it, and that it’s hung high enough that it doesn’t obstruct the vision of anyone seated at the table.
Over a Kitchen Island
Source: Savvy Interiors
If you're placing a single chandelier over a kitchen island, make sure it is centered over the island and that there is enough clearance that it doesn’t obstruct your view when standing or sitting at the counter. Keep in mind that you may want multiple chandeliers if your island is more rectangular than square.
In your foyer, chandeliers generally look best placed in the center of the entryway. The 7.5-foot height rule applies to lighting hung in entryways of standard ceiling height, but if your foyer is two stories high, your chandelier should hang so the bottom of the fixture is level with the upstairs floor.
A bedroom chandelier can add a distinct sophistication – and maybe even a little romance – to your master bedroom. In your bedroom, focus less on centering your fixture in the middle of the room and more on situating it over a key focal point – like a large bed or a seating area. As always, make sure there is enough clearance for people to walk around the room comfortably.
Chandelier brightness: figuring out how much light your room needs
While a chandelier is certainly a design element in any space, it should also serve its intended function – to light your space. That’s why it’s important to determine how much light you’ll need in any given space.
The brightness of a room is measured in lumens, and the number of lumens needed in a given space varies depending on the total square feet of the room and its function:
With this in mind, a 100-square-foot dining room would require 3,000 – 4,000 lumens (100 sq. ft x 30-40). A 250-square-foot living room would require 2,500 - 5,000 lumens (250 sq. ft. x 10-20), and a 200-square-foot kitchen would need 17,500 - 20,000 lumens (250 sq. ft. x 70-80).
So if your chandelier for your 100-square-foot dining room takes six LED bulbs, you’d use bulbs between 500 and 700 lumens each to produce the needed brightness.
Of course, with today’s smart and dimming lighting capabilities, erring on the bright side isn’t a problem, as you can adjust the light depending on the day and the occasion. Of course, you’ll also want to keep other sources of light in mind when making your calculations. For example, if the same dining room also had recessed lighting that produced 2,000 lumens, your chandelier would only need to produce between 1,000 and 2,000 lumens.
How many chandeliers does my space need?
Source: Decor Pad
The number of chandeliers you need for your space depends on several factors, including the purpose of the chandelier, the size of the room, the wattage and other lighting sources.
Purpose of the chandelier
The purpose of the chandelier is an important factor to consider when choosing the number of chandeliers you need. If the chandelier is intended to be the main source of light in the room, then you may only need one. However, if the chandelier is intended to be an accent light – and it’s necessary to balance your design – you may want to consider having multiple chandeliers throughout the room.
Size of the room
Of course, the size of the room is also important. Larger rooms – like a large or vaulted great room or one that is linear in shape – may need multiple chandeliers to provide adequate lighting, while smaller rooms may only need one. Of course, if you fall in love with a chandelier that’s too small to serve as your room’s focal point or single source of light, this is also a case where multiple fixtures are needed.
Lumens and other lighting sources
As stated above, the function of your chandelier is important; after all, even the most beautiful fixture can do your space a disservice if it does not produce an adequate amount of light. Consider the lighting rules listed above as well as any other sources of light in your space. If the room already has recessed or can lighting and the chandelier is solely chosen for aesthetics or ambient light, you’re likely good with just one.
Chandeliers can add warmth, style, personality and beauty to your home. While choosing the perfect fixtures for your space can take careful consideration, following these guidelines will help you maximize the design impact – and functionality – of your beautiful chandelier.