How to Select the Perfect Chandelier


Be sure to consider these designer tips when selecting a new chandelier fixture.  It is important that the fixture you select suits the proportions of your room and the style of your home.

From size to style to material, there are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a chandelier.  Both the style and design of the chandelier have morphed over time. In addition to the classic, tiered silhouettes, modern chandeliers are available in bold, unique designs.  No matter if it’s a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, or living room, chandeliers will add drama and intrigue to their environment.  Modern chandeliers are striking, eye-catching light fixtures that instantly become the focal point of any room

Additional Lighting:  Chandeliers provide a sufficient amount of light, but chandeliers need to be paired with additional light fixtures to provide the appropriate ambient light a room requires. To combat glare and diminish unwanted shadows, combine a chandelier with wall sconces or recessed lights or even pendant lights to achieve the desired lighting effect.

Dimmers:  Casting the right amount of light is so important in creating an ambient setting. You want to avoid the harsh light that comes from functional, or more direct, lighting. Instead, cast a soft, warm glow over your picture-perfect feast. Consider adding a dimmer switch, so you can adjust lighting as needed. You can also use shades for softer lighting.

Seating Area:  If your light will be centered on a seating area and not the entire room, use the approximate length and width dimensions of that area instead of the entire space. Another way to calculate this is to add the length the light will be from the two closest walls and then double it to get your approximate chandelier diameter in inches.  For example, if the center of your seating area is 7 feet from one wall and 8 feet from the other, then 7 feet + 8 feet = 15 feet; 15 feet x 2 = 30 feet, which you convert to inches. So a 30-inch-diameter fixture would be a good fit.  This is a common rule that helps you keep the scale of your chandelier in proportion to the size of the room. To me, this rule is best used as a starting place and not as a hard and fast rule, but it definitely helps set a minimum size.

High Ceilings:  For spaces with very tall ceilings, hang the light at 8 feet above the floor (plus an additional foot if the room is taller than 12 feet). You can also look to lights that hang in tiers to fill the height well while also landing low enough to help make the space below feel more intimate.

Entryway:  In an entryway with a more normal-height ceiling, keep in mind that a light fixture will have to avoid the door swing. Centering a light on the entry vestibule can be beautiful, but you may want to choose a petite pendant or a flush-mount instead of a true chandelier to avoid any collisions.

How to pick the right size chandelier for your dining table:  When choosing a chandelier for most spaces, one general rule of thumb will give you a good guide on choosing a size:  Width of room (in feet) + length of 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 (14 feet + 10 feet = 24 feet, which you convert to inches  Chandeliers should hang 30”-36” above the dining table surface.  Be sure that the chandelier is centered over the table and not in the middle of the room. If you have a hutch or sideboard against one wall, as most people do, your table will likely be placed slightly off center in the room, and everything will look off-kilter if the chandelier hangs exactly dead center. 

Round Dining Table:  For a round dining table, choose a round or square fixture one-half to two-thirds the width of the table all the way around. If the light is too wide it will likely make the table look small and awkward, and if it’s rectangular the pieces will likely look disconnected.

Small Round Table:  For a small round table (say, a 48-inch table in a breakfast nook) a light can be more on the petite side without looking off, so feel free to choose something smaller and keep the look a little lighter if you prefer.

Exaggerated Scale:  The rules and tips I’ve listed up to this point are great for choosing a fixture that follows classic proportions. However, a recent lighting trend has been to buck these classic proportions and choose oversize fixtures instead to make a calculated statement through the sheer drama of large scale.  Hanging light fixtures make for a natural focal point already, due to their central position in the space and the simple fact that they emit light, so it makes sense to play up their size a bit if you really want them to make people say “wow.”

I sincerely hope these tips help you find just the right chandelier for your space.

Remember “Lighting is the jewelry of your home”