The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Installing Pendant Lights


Looking for an easy and affordable way to add a ton of style to any room?

Eschew traditional can lights and invest in a few great pendant lights, instead! Whether your style is rustic, classic, or anywhere in between, these fixtures can provide that “wow” factor that every homeowner cherishes.

Yet, unless you’re a professional lighting designer, installing pendant lights can easily become overwhelming. How do you know which ones to choose? How high should you hang them? Do certain styles work better in some spaces than others?

No fear! Today, we’re diving into all of these questions and more in our go-to guide to pendant light perfection.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

Choosing Your Light Fixture Design

First, you’ll need to decide which kinds of light fixtures will look the best in your house. Think about the style of your home and the designs that you’re most commonly drawn to. Are your rooms replete with modern farmhouse touches or do you prefer a more sleek, Art Deco look?

There is no right or wrong answer, but yours will dictate the kind of lighting you need. The good news? There are plenty of different kinds of pendant lights designed to match any personal aesthetic! Consider the following pairs:

  • Rustic spaces: Schoolhouse-style pendants with wrought iron hardware
  • Modern spaces: Sleek chrome or brushed nickel pendants
  • Bohemian spaces: More ornate, whimsical pendants with unique shapes and shades

Is your style a mix of all three? You can’t go wrong with a classic, drum-shaped pendant light that’s simple, clean and functional. A great set of lights can make all the difference in your room, adding personality and pizazz that you just can’t replicate with in-ceiling light fixtures.

Need a few more reasons to invest in some today? You can read more here to learn additional benefits that pendant lights provide!

Finding the Perfect Location

Once you’ve decided on the style of pendant lights you prefer, it’s time to nail down exactly where you want to place them! Begin by looking at your gathering tables, both in the kitchen and in the dining room.

Many homeowners choose to install a few pendant lights over these eating spaces to light the way and add an element of warmth to the atmosphere. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re installing multiple light fixtures in a group, it’s best to stick with ones that are simple to avoid overcrowding.

The Rule of Three

While most design rules are made to be broken by brave and daring homeowners, this one is actually pretty smart. If you’re placing pendant lights over a bar or countertop, hang identical ones in groups of three.

This gives the room a sense of balance and purpose and establishes order. However, don’t let the number rule restrict you! You can look for pendants in any shape or style, as long as you buy sets of three to hang over a common area. Why not experiment with contrast, installing boxier ones in rooms with round furniture and vice versa?

Deciding on Size and Scale

Yes, you want to make an impression and catch the eye of your visitors. However, a gigantic pendant light in a tiny bedroom can quickly overwhelm the space. Or, you could make the opposite misstep by installing a tiny one in an enormous room, dwarfing it instantly.

That’s why it’s important to consider size and scale when selecting yours.

Are you installing a band of kitchen bar lights over your countertop? If so, you’ll need to choose ones that are at least 10 inches smaller in diameter than the overall width of the counter. This is called the “Headroom Rule” because it ensures that anyone seated beneath the lights will have plenty of headroom.

Keeping that rule in mind, look for the biggest pendants that make logical sense in your space. If you’re torn between a big or small option, always opt for the bigger one to add as much visual interest as possible.

What about hanging pendants in a more open area, such as your foyer? Here, you aren’t considering headroom as much as you would in the kitchen. To understand the correct size to purchase, simply add the room’s dimensions together. Then, convert the total from feet to inches.

Say, for instance, that your foyer is 12 feet by 14 feet. Those numbers added together equals 26 feet. Thus, the correct pendant or chandelier to hang in this space would be one that’s around 26 inches in diameter.

Proper Pendant Heights to Remember

So far, we’ve discussed certain rules that dictate how large a pendant should be. However, what about its height? Hanging pendant lights can be a major exercise in patience, as it’s almost always impossible to get it right the first time!

Thankfully, there are a few time-honored rules that can help.

If you’re positioning a pendant light over your dining room table, make sure the bottom rim of the pendant is between 60 and 66 inches from the floor. Then, adjust its suspension so that it’s 30 inches above the table itself.

This rule applies to dining room tables, kitchen counters, or any other gathering table. The only caveat? If you use the table more as a desk than an eating space, you’ll need task lighting. In that case, hang the pendant light about 16 inches above the surface.

Everywhere else in your house, let the ceiling height be your guide. If yours soar higher than eight feet high, draw the pendant up three inches for every additional foot after eight feet. In your foyer, hang pendant lights so that their bottom is approximately seven feet from the floor.

Installing Pendant Lights That Impress 

As a homeowner, you know the power of a first impression. Yet, you’re the one who has to live in your house on a daily basis. You need fixtures that look great but also make sense for your family.

When installing pendant lights, consider how you plan to use each space, and let your personal style lead you from there. Following the above measurements can help you install them proportionally, but ultimately, the designs you select are up to you! Be creative, have fun and choose ones you love and you’ll never regret your decision.

Looking for more advice on work, home and everything in between? Keep reading our blog and explore the rest of our site!

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