The Chandelier Cheat Sheet: How to Choose the Right Size
The chandelier is a true interior design statement-maker. When we walk into a room and gaze at that sparkling halo of unparalleled perfection, our eyeballs boing out of their sockets, our blood boils, and the tears in our eyes match the crystal drops of the chandelier’s festoon.
At the very least, they can be overwhelming and make a powerful statement in the home. Learn everything you need to know by reading the Kathy Kuo Home guide on these chic light fixtures! And if you have additional questions about whether a chandelier is right for your home, our Design Team is always a great place to start.
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A Brief History of Chandeliers
In the opinion of the Kuotes, you can’t be a great designer without a little knowledge on the origins of a piece. The earliest chandeliers, composed of candles, were built in medieval times for the wealthy; they had ring or crown designs, and they became popular in palaces and homes of the nobility. Jump to the 18th century and they were built by Bohemian and Venetian glassmakers who incorporated lead crystal into their designs. People were blown away (as we still are today) by the beauty of the light refracted from the facets and bevels of crystal prisms.
Since then, a wide variety of lighting options have cropped up… in fact, keep on reading and we’ll outline the styles you’ll find today.
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How to Choose a Chandelier for the Entryway or Foyer
First, let’s determine the height you’ll need. You’ll want to start by measuring the height of your room. As you may imagine, the higher the ceiling, the taller the chandelier. Then, you’ll have to do some math.
But we promise to make the math manageable with our simple ratio: 2.5 inches in fixture height per 1 foot of room height. This means that for a standard eight-foot-high ceiling, you’ll want an option with a fixture height of about 20 inches. Note: For some visually-light chandeliers, you can up the ratio to 3:1.
The classic rule of thumb is that your diameter should be half of the room’s parameter treated as inches. Sound complicated? It’s not as confusing as it may sound. Just add together the length of the room with the width of the room. Use that sum, but treat the sum in inches.
For people who work better with an example, imagine that your room is 10 ft by 14 ft. Add 10 plus 14 to get 24 total feet. So then, for this size room, you’ll need an option with a diameter of 24 inches. Note: For some visually-heavy chandeliers, you can instead use the diagonal of the room (treated as inches) as the diameter. Just measure out the diagonal with a tape measure (or use the Pythagorean theorem, for any math wizzes out there).
How to Choose a Chandelier for the Dining Room Table or Kitchen Island
Hang your fixture so that its lowest point is 30-34 inches from the tabletop (we always suggest leaning toward the higher end of this margin).
The diameter for a chandelier hung over a table should be one foot less than the width of the tabletop to avoid hitting heads. If you want to place two smaller chandeliers over a long table, choose a diameter that’s about one-third of the width of the table.
How to Choose a Style
Okay, you officially know how to choose the right size chandelier. But as you scroll through our wide collection of chandeliers, panic strikes again! With so many different types of chandeliers, how do you pick a chandelier that suits your design style? We are here to help!
The Candle Chandelier:
The candle chandelier is the oldest and most classic chandelier style, stemming from the early medieval period. Candle chandeliers are often ornate, and they typically have scrolling arms and filigree. Although candle chandeliers now run on electricity, most candle chandeliers still feature bobeches (the drip pans beneath candles used to catch wax—and your vocab word for the day).
The Crystal Chandelier:
The crystal chandelier emerged during the 18th century with the introduction of Murano and soda glass, which were light-weight and could be shaped into intricate designs and patterns. Crystal options can come at a high price point, but they offer a glamorous look that is sure to catch the eye. Choose a crystal chandelier to create romantic and dreamlike lighting in any room.
The Drum Chandelier:
The drum chandelier was introduced into the lighting world during the 20th century. The drum style resembles a pendant light with a material, usually a lampshade, encircling the entire light for warmer and more muted lighting.
The Island Chandelier:
The Miniature Chandelier:
The miniature chandelier (or mini chandelier) is a petite version of the grand chandelier that makes a similar statement in a room without taking up the large amount of space associated with chandeliers.
The Modern Chandelier:
The modern style emerged during the Post-World War II era when furniture design was heavily influenced by the modernist movement. Modern chandeliers feature clean, straight lines that are unseen in any other chandelier style. These chandeliers rebel against the lavish designs of traditional chandeliers and offer very little detailing. Choose a modern option to add a contemporary, unapologetic edge to your space.
The Ring Chandelier:
The ring style uses a ring (or hoop), usually made of metal, as support for the candles or arms. The ring style is frequently associated with the Rustic Lodge style. You can just imagine it lighting up a large farm or barn house. Common motifs of ring chandeliers include branches, animal horns, plants, and distressed materials.
The Shaded Chandelier:
The shaded style adds a sense of jazz and nuance to your space. The shades will add an element of appeal to any room in your home or office. These chandeliers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they range in style from classic to modern. Choose a shaded option for your bedroom to create soft, romantic lighting.
The Tiered Chandelier:
The tiered option can come in multiple styles, from modern to rustic to Mid-Century–it can go with any type of home decor. For each tier a the fixture has, the fixture becomes larger and has more and more presence in a space. Choose a tiered option for its wow factor when it comes to light sources, whether from a high ceiling home entryway or a grand hotel lobby.
Additional Tips for Placing Your Chandelier:
- For an entryway or foyer, place your chandelier in the exact center of the ceiling.
- If your foyer has a window above the door, your lighting should be centered in the window so that it can be seen from the outside of your home.
- If your entryway is two stories, the lighting shouldn’t hang below the second floor. If your entryway is one story, the bottom of the chandelier should be about 7 feet from the floor.
- A dining room chandelier, over a dining table, should use a dimmer switch to offer your space versatility: dim for romantic dinners or bright for helping the kids do their homework
- Visual density is important when selecting your chandelier. For smaller ones, lean more visually heavy. For a large chandelier that requires more light bulbs, choose something light and airy.
- Try placing your selection in an unexpected location, like a bathroom, entry foyer, or closet.
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Kathy Kuo Home Design Services
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