How to choose the right chandelier

What do you think about when you hear the word ‘chandelier’? The glimmering lights, the romantic glow, the drama? We sure do. A chandelier is one of the most glamorous elements you could have in your home and few things can top its sheer elegance and style. It’s an object that captures the eye, balances the scale and proportion of the room and instantly gives your home that wow factor that everybody wants have. That luminesence and transparency of teh glass against the overall massing of the chandelier is just a magical combination.

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However, choosing the right light for the right space takes some knowhow. That’s why we have prepared some essential advice to make your rooms lit in every sense of the word. 

Make a thoughtful choice

Chandeliers are best suited for large areas and rooms meant for congregating and those that can be seen from a distance, such as a porch or a more formal space like a dining room or living room. That’s why you should look for a chandelier that creates a three-dimensional volume in a sculptural and functional design, that can be seen from all sides and also from below. The fixture can be dramatic and large, and designed to be the center of the space.

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What’s the best way to select the style? Look for drama and artistic intent. That’s because you want to generate a ‘wow’ effect and leave an impression on all those who come into your house. But really, there are no strict rules here, it all comes down to personal taste and how your house is arranged. You might hang a traditional crystal chandelier in a more modern space, or a more modern chandelier in a traditional space. It’s all up to you.

Size and scale matter  

Chandeliers can be a great addition to any room, they are wonderful in foyers, living rooms, dining rooms, en-suites, and even walk-in closets. But you have to keep in mind that the scale must be right. Determine if you want your chandelier to steal the show or you’re just putting it there to add another layer to an already beautifully designed space. Ask yourself: do you want it to blend in or stand out?

There’s a no-fail equation for the size to choose. Take the width of the room (in feet) + the length of the room (in feet) = diameter/width of chandelier (in inches). So, for example, if your room is 14-feet long by 10-feet wide, a 24-inch-diameter chandelier would look proportionate.

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In order to choose the vertical dimensions of the chandelier, the classic rule is to take the room height (in feet) and multiply it by 2.5 or 3 to get a good range (in inches) for the vertical proportions of the light. So if your room has an eight-foot ceiling, this would mean your chandelier should be roughly 20 to 24 inches top to bottom.

There are many elements that come into choosing a specific chandelier style: structural appeal, shape, texture, color, overall aesthetic, material, light source.

All about effect

A well-proportioned chandelier can open up a room very much, through the play of light and shadow that have the tendency to lift the eye toward the ceiling. You should always make sure that every ceiling fixture is dimmable, that way you can create varying types of atmosphere to fit every mood, from task lighting to a softer evening glow.

You should always consider proportion, line and scale. It’s essential to measure the so called ‘drop’ between the bottom of the chandelier and the floor or table. 

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When thinking about size, remember to consider the diameter over a surface or the room size. If the chandelier is round, we suggest that the diameter should be approximately half the width of the table. If rectangular and over an oval or rectangular table, the fixture should cover approximately 2/3 of the surface. When hanging a chandelier or a fixture in a room without furniture below, you should calculate the drop by taking into account the ceiling height. The minimum clearance should be at least seven feet above a person’s head. Nothing looks worse than an under-scaled or over-scaled chandelier.

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Our advice is to look for a fixture with an open eye, some of the best rooms have a mix of lighting styles and materials. Always keep in mind that with lighting, you’re in control of creating the room’s atmosphere.

Placement is key

Chandeliers are ideal for rooms that have tall ceilings or spaces that need a little extra punch, like a grand staircase, for example. Staircases are perfect for a cascading chandelier element, as both the staircase and the chandelier play off one another to create a sense of drama. Entryways are also great for hanging chandeliers since they help set the first impression of what’s to come.

When hanging a fixture, there are different rules for different applications. Generally, chandeliers hover between 42-to-48 inches above a dining table. In an entry foyer, they are usually suspended between 10-to-11 feet off the floor, depending on ceiling height, but assuming it’s a tall volumetric space.

How bright will it be?

Chandeliers are decorative fixtures, meant to impart style and ambiance. That said, don’t expect your chandelier to be the room’s primary light source, as this is one of the biggest and most common mistakes you can make with a chandelier. Placing a single fixture in the center of a room and expecting it to light the entire room is a safe way to have bad lighting. This is compounded if the chandelier’s bulbs are exposed, something common to many chandeliers.

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That’s why chandeliers work best as a supplementary light source and even better when they are incorporated into a layered lighting scheme. For example, incorporating recessed cans, cove lighting, or wall sconces in a room are great ways to accent the space, highlight walls, paintings, plants, countertops, and cabinets.

What about the dining room chandelier?

Chandeliers are sized by diameter and height. The number of bulbs may also impact size. I recommend a chandelier’s diameter to be 1/2 to 2/3 the width of your dining table. Today’s average dining room chandelier is a four to six light, 26-30″ diameter fixture.

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Take ceiling height and chandelier height into consideration before buying, too. The chandelier should hang about 30″- 36″ from the top of your table to the bottom of the fixture itself. A chandelier that is too tall might end up sitting almost on top of your table. However, if you have tall ceilings, a two or three-tiered design could work great.

As you can see, quite a few aspects go into choosing the right chandelier, it’s not just browsing through a magazine and choosing what pleases the eye. We hope our guide was helpful and you’re on your way to choosing the perfect chandelier for your home.

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