Sizing chandeliers for large dining rooms is a bit trickier than most rooms. Too large of a chandelier will have you looking like a hotel ballroom and too small of a chandelier will get lost. Can the chandelier be wider than the table?
In answer to the latter question, yes it can. If you can hang the chandelier high enough, it is okay for it to be wider than the table as long as you like the way it looks. We recommend 3′ or so off the table in such a situation.
Below are some simple illustrations for larger dining rooms.
We get more than a few questions asking how we measure our chandeliers. What exactly does the listed length (height) of a chandelier include? How do you measure the width?
Simply put, the listed length is from the point that the chain attaches at the top of the chandelier to the lowest point on the chandelier.
Hanging light fixtures that hang by chain have a metal loop at the top. This loop is part of the chandelier, not part of the chain, and exists so that there is something to attach the chain. Very logical. We include that top loop in the measured length.
Most chandeliers require a screw loop assembly to hang a chandelier from a ceiling box. Keep in mind that the screw loop assembly, or “hook-up”, plus the one link of chain that MUST attach the screw loop to the top loop of the chandelier, takes up about 4″ of space. So when figuring how much chandelier will fit in a space, keep these extra 4″ in mind as it will cause your chandelier to hang lower than just the actual chandelier length. (34″ long chandelier + 4″ hook-up will make your chandelier hang 38″ from the ceiling.)
We then measure down the chandelier to the lowest point, which in this case is the bottom of the crystal ball. On our chandeliers, we position these balls to where we think they look best, but they are slightly adjustable.
Measuring the width of a chandelier can be a bit trickier. Because you can’t lay a ruler through the middle of most chandeliers and because some chandeliers have odd numbers of arms (branches), I think the easiest way to get a width is to measure the radius: half way – from the center of the chandelier to the outer edge. Then, double that figure to get the diameter. (See, there you go, using Geometry!)
Looking for inspiration? Or, perhaps you need some technical advice?
If so, we have some great news for you: the annual Lighting magazine from the good folks at Better Homes and Gardens (in conjunction with the American Lighting Association) is on the stands!
But, even better news, you can stop by a member showroom (like ours) and pick one up for FREE! This beautiful publication is $6.99 on the news stands, but FREE from a participating ALA member showroom.
Come on by our store and pick up your free copy today. They are right at the front counter, so you can even just “poke your head in the door” and grab one. Or, call from the parking lot, and we will bring one to your car. Or, if even that is too much effort for you, follow this link for a digital copy – we won’t judge, we promise.
Our favorite Lighting Designer, Randall Whitehead, tackles your questions!
You’ve mentioned that recessed lights aren’t the most flattering, so is there a balance to shoot for between recessed and ambient? In one of your blogs someone asked you about lighting for a long rectangular family room with a 9-foot ceiling and you suggested quite a bit of recessed light, including some soffits with recessed lighting. I don’t think you mentioned other lighting, so I’m a little confused.
Yes, using just recessed downlights in a room produces harsh shadows on people’s faces and makes the ceiling feel lower. I would recommend dividing the ceiling into thirds and installing a pair of pendant fixtures, which will provide both ambient light and decorative lighting. I would then use recessed adjustable fixtures to direct light toward art and tabletops for accent lighting. I think the room in the blog you are referring to had a pitched ceiling, so the soffit around the perimeter of the room provided a space for both indirect lighting on top and recessed lighting along the bottom to highlight art on the walls.
Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include “Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide.” Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.