Shedding light on pendant lightingPublished on May 2, 2012

  • (Photo by Sonya Kinkade)

The one question I get asked more than anything these days as a decorator is how to choose and hang pendant lights. Here are a few guidelines to follow.

Over a table: The recommended height to hang a pendant over a dining table is 28"-32". This can be adjusted depending on fixture and ceiling height. Some other factors to consider are whether you are using it for task or ambient lighting (or both). I always like to have these fixtures on a dimmer. Do not forget to consider scale. The fixture should never be wider than the table, less 12 inches. If the light fixture is wider, guests and family have a tendency to hit their head as they exit the table. If your table is longer, consider hanging two pendants. It's not only an effective way to light the table, but is is aesthetically pleasing.

Above an island: Hanging pendants above an island will enhance the kitchen design and will add task lighting to a well-used area of the kitchen. Pendants over an island should be hung 28-34 inches above the countertop or 72 inches above the floor. Make sure you hang the fixture high enough that while standing you are not staring directly into the lights, or so high that the light is directly in your eyes.

In the middle of a sitting area: Generally speaking, you would not hang a pendant in the middle of your living room or bedroom. But if the fixture is being hung over a table or a bed where there will be no traffic flow, you are all right. Hanging fixtures in a setting like this will create fantastic drama while adding great mood lighting.

Foyers, hallways and stairways: Hanging a beautiful fixture in the entranceway or stairway of your home will not only give much-needed light, but will create a statement as soon as your guests walk in. Another great place to hang pendants is in a long hallway, leading the eye down the path of the hall. Just remember to keep the fixtures high enough for clearance, but low enough to keep them in your sightlines. A general rule is to hang these fixtures at least 7-8 feet above the floor and above any swinging door that may be nearby. For stairway fixtures, allow for 18-24 inches between the fixture and height of approximately a 6' person.

Follow Sonya on Twitter @kinkadedesign.

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