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January 8, 2012

How high do I hang my Chandelier?

In our last series 15 steps to designing your dream home, we covered all aspects of home design.  In this series we're looking at different aspects of lighting. Today we'll focus on hanging chandeliers, like this beautiful $9,000+ chandelier available at Robinson Lighting. $9,000 ? Wow!

Lighting affects our moods drastically. Imagine a dimly lit dining room filled with good food, great company and perhaps a little champagne? Yummy.

Now imagine that same room with bright, glaring lights - yup, fully lit. Quite a difference isn't it? Sometimes we need a room with strong lighting and sometimes soft, diffused light is what's needed. Dining room chandeliers that throw bright light straight down onto a person’s face while they are eating, will cast harsh shadows and create glare and also heat up a dining area.
For the best results use a chandelier with 200-400 total wattage spread among the light bulbs. This works well for a medium to generous dining room.

In general to determine the size of the lighting fixture needed, add up the length and width of the room, convert this to inches, and this is the diameter of the light you'll be needing. 
i.e.  if your foyer is 10' x 8'.  Add 10 + 8 = 18.  You need an 18" wide light fixture.
A common problem is under sizing your lighting, go big or go home!

Overhead lighting can also be put on a dimmer switch (also known as a rheostat), which allows you to control the brightness. Changing the wall switch should done only by a licensed electrician. (If you change the wall switch yourself and it's done improperly, it might start a fire, and your home owner's insurance will probably not cover the loss.)

If a dining room is less than 10 feet high, I like to hang my chandeliers from between 30" - 34" above the dining room table. If your room is more than 10 feet high, such as this beautiful room below, just add a few extra inches.

To determine the width of the chandelier over a dining table, the minimum width of the light should be 1/2 the width of the dining room table.  The maximum width of the light should be 12" less that the width of the dining table.
Oakley Home Builders traditional dining room

Orchard Dining Room B contemporary dining room

Did you know you can also light your chandelier itself? Often people add recessed lighting with an adjustable pivot head and direct the light towards both the chandelier and the table itself. The effect can be quite dramatic, especially on a crystal light fixture, as it allows the reflected light to bounce around the room.
In general most chandeliers have open lights with several bulbs, this is great to light up the room (referred to as ambient lighting). If you find there is too much glare, simply select a light with diffused lighting, such as this beautiful fixture below, the shade will help to filter the light and reduce glare.

"Up lights" (you guessed it, - lights shining up towards the ceiling) are a great idea as they provide diffused lighting.  This way the light doesn't shine straight down on your guests, but instead it will bounce off the ceiling or upper walls, thereby diffusing it and giving a warm glow to the room.  Toronto interior designer Kimberley Seldon often says "you don't need a facelift, you just need better lighting!"

In our next post we will discuss the 3 aspects of lighting that every room must have. 

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