Guidelines. Tips. Information.

Shedding some light on lightening

Placing lights over a kitchen table or island

Whether you’re hanging a chandelier, pendant or barrel lights, here are a few things to keep in mind. While proper placement above a table or island is important, selecting a fixture that is proportionately appealing for the space is key. A fixture that’s too large can overpower a space and, likewise, one that is too small would look odd. Using a fixture that is too small can diminish the desired impact. To avoid disappointing results, it’s best to err on the side of a fixture that’s slightly too big.

  • The size and proportion of a room has a direct impact on the size and type of the ideal fixtures.
  • Higher ceilings, of course, call for larger, height-flexible fixtures.
  • The shape and design of a fixture can have a direct impact on visual proportions. For example, a fixture that’s light and airy can be large but will not overpower a space. Enclosed drum-type lighting or a small chandelier with shades can have the impact of a larger fixture.

A simple guide for sizing a light fixture

Measure width and length of the room you’re designing in feet, then add those two figures. The sum, expressed as inches, will equal the diameter, to be used as a guideline when you choose the size of a chandelier. For example, a room 15 feet by 20 feet equals 35. So, as a guide, the correct size of a chandelier would be approximately 35 inches in diameter. Of course, with a very open room or one with high ceilings, the fixture could be a bit bigger.

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How to size a chandelier in relation to the room and a table

A good rule of thumb for a dining room chandelier is to be certain the chandelier is at least half the width of the table. It should not be larger than one foot smaller than the table. So, for example, if your table is 48 inches wide, your chandelier should be no larger than 36 inches wide or smaller than 24 inches wide.


What is the recommended wattage for lamps in a chandelier?

For arm chandeliers, 25-watt bulbs are recommended. They provide good light without being too glaring. And even though shades can hide bulbs and filter light, don’t go above 40 watts or you risk burning the shades.


It’s easy to determine the distance from the table to the bottom of a chandelier

For an 8-foot ceiling, the bottom of the chandelier works well at 30 inches above the table. For higher ceilings the chandelier should be raised 3 inches for every foot higher than 8 feet the ceiling is. For example, for a 10-foot ceiling the proper height off the table would be 36 inches.


Some simple guidelines on chandelier placement

The bottom of a chandelier should be anywhere from 28 to 32 inches above the table. This applies to ceiling that’s 8 or 9 feet. Even with a very high ceiling, the chandelier should never be more than 36” from the top of the table. Given that a table is normally 30” high, this rule of thumb refers to the bottom of the fixture being installed 66” to 72” off the finished floor. For higher ceilings, this distance can be increased to as much as 78” off the floor.

When placing a chandelier over a kitchen island, the bottom of a light fixture above a 36” high island is usually set at 72” off the finished floor.

For a bistro table or a 42-inch high counter—despite the fact that the bar height is higher, it remains an area where people will sit—the bottom of the fixture is recommended to be placed safely at 72” off the finished floor.

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