How To Shop For A Chandelier

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How To Shop For A Chandelier

Though the word might evoke images of lavish art decor hotel scenes from classic Golden Hollywood films or visions of grand entrances into a home with a vaulted foyer, chandeliers are actually quite versatile – sometimes utilitarian, even.

Whether you're in the market for this substantial piece of lighting for extravagant, romantic purposes or if you're coming from a more practical, functional standpoint, one thing is for sure: No matter which room you're decorating or what mood you're cultivating, there is a chandelier out there with your name written all over it!

Have You Measured Your Space?

A tiny chandelier over a massive dining room table looks highly awkward. So measure ahead of time and follow these general rules of thumb:

  • For Proper Hanging Height Over A Table: For lovely ambient lighting, measure from the ceiling to the tabletop. Subtract 30 inches. The resulting number is your ideal chandelier size from top to bottom.
  • For Proper Hanging Height Without A Table: People will be walking under this and will not want to sustain injuries. Subtract 7 feet (for substantial head clearance) from the height of the room. For example, 12 feet minus 7 feet. You have 5 feet to work with (remember to include the hanging wiring and hardware as part of the chandelier’s height).
  • For Chandelier Width: Measure the length and width of your room in feet. Add the two numbers together. That figure (replace “feet” with “inches” without converting the number itself) represents the chandelier’s diameter. For example, a 13- x 13-foot bedroom yields a diameter measuring 26 inches. Pretty simple!

Is The Chandelier For A Dining Room?

This space, most often associated with the chandelier, is easy to outfit with lighting. Ask yourself what mood you’re looking to create and choose accordingly.

  • Formal: The dining room is meant for special occasions only? You need a formal chandelier. Lean toward those with a classic, elegant shape. If you’re partial to crystal chandeliers, now is your chance.
  • Casual: The dining room is home to a long harvest table and mismatched chairs and is everyone’s favorite place to hang out. Go for a laid-back chandelier without worrying about elegance. A simple chandelier with a solid shade? Perfect.
  • Both: You host the annual black-tie holiday party, but in the off-season, your children use the dining room table to do their homework and play games. If your dining room performs double duty, go for a middle of the road, streamlined chandelier that looks good whether dressed up or down.

Need A Chandelier For A Different Room?

Gone are the days when chandeliers were considered a staple of the dining room alone. A chandelier can lend a luxe, stylish quality to any living space.

  • Living Room: Avoid chandeliers with covered lights or tiny lamp shades (which are better suited to the intimacy of the dining room), and opt instead for an open feel and uncovered lights for ample lighting.
  • Bedroom/Bathroom: Choose a miniature chandelier (up to 20 inches in diameter) to avoid overwhelming your room.
  • Kitchen: Hang a mid-sized chandelier (over 20 inches and up to 36 inches in diameter) or two over your kitchen island or over the breakfast table. A single strip of covered lights or a round fixture with covered lights replaces recessed lighting. Or you can always go for an elegant touch with an ornate fixture.

Have A Particular Design Style In Mind?

Match your chandelier to your existing decor for a cohesive look. Check out your hardware and other main materials used for furnishings as inspiration.

  • Traditional: Do you have classic pieces? Traditional or ornate hardware on your furniture? Consider a wrought-iron chandelier with a softly curved design.
  • Modern: No frills about it – high shine silver with clean lines is your best bet.
  • Contemporary: A clean yet interesting design is in order. Opt for a piece that resembles sculptural art.
  • Shabby Chic: Crystals, opaque material and the extra ruffles – look for a chandelier with a colorful finish or a nod to a vintage aesthetic.  
  • Eclectic/Rustic: Nothing too polished for you. A chandelier that reflects nature or an old treasure you might find in a great great grandfather’s shed. Antler chandelier? Yes, please.

Want The Charm Of Candles?

Sure, a chandelier that uses real candles creates beautiful, natural lighting. However, for safety and efficiency, opt for a flameless candle chandelier. You’ll get all the old world charm without setting off the smoke detector.

Unlike a light bulb or a lamp, selecting a chandelier is a bit of a commitment requiring installation and, hopefully, a desire to look upon this object of decor on a daily basis with a heart full of delight. Once you’ve taken your time and truly considered both the form and function, the right chandelier will truly light up your home.

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