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How to Choose a Large Pendant Light

How to Choose a Pendant Light


 
Wood and Glass Globe Pendant

Pendant lights are elegant hanging light fixtures that provide a more versatile alternative to traditional chandeliers. These are dubbed “pendants” because of their signature shape that consists of a narrow cord or tube that extends down from the ceiling with the main fixture dangling from the end like the pendant on a necklace. And like their namesake jewelry, pendant lights can act as a standout accessory, adding a distinct style element to any room they are installed in.

When selecting a pendant light for your home, consider the following factors to help you pick the right one:

Pendant Size

These fixtures come in a wide variety of sizes, and it is important to choose lighting that suits the scale of your space and your intended use of it. Large pendant lights generally work best in wide and tall spaces such as living rooms or two story entryways. Slightly scaled down versions are ideal for hanging over dining room tables, bar areas and kitchen islands.

So what size pendant should you use? Here are a few guidelines to help:

  • The width of a pendant should be roughly one inch wide for every foot in the total of a room’s length plus width. Example: For a 12 x 14 foot room, 12+14=26, so the ideal pendant would be roughly 26 inches wide.
  • For an open area such as a living room, make sure that the height of your fixture is scaled so that you always leave at least 7 feet of headroom underneath it while still having a few inches of clearance above as well. Note that these requirements mean that typically pendants will not work as central lighting in a living room with standard 8 foot ceilings.
  • For placement over a table or kitchen island, aim to find a fixture that is roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the countertop.
  • Over a counter or tabletop, lighting should typically hang between 28 and 34 inches above the surface.
Oil Rubbed Bronze Drum Pendant
Chrome Edged Lantern Pendants

Fixture Shape & Style

Once you sort out what scale you are looking for, the next step is deciding on the look. Pendant lighting comes in a wide array of different shapes and design styles that can reinforce a room's design theme.

For an overview of the most popular pendant light styles and shapes, check out our Pendant Lighting Style Guide.

Finishes

Nearly every style of pendant light is available a wide range of different metals and finishes that can completely change the appearance of the fixture. Often the finish of a light fixture is selected to coordinate with existing fixtures or hardware in the space. This doesn’t mean that you can’t mix it up a bit, and accent finishes can look great if done right. However, try to stay away from combining more than 2 (or maybe 3) different hues of metal in the same space, as this can look uncoordinated.

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