Lighting | Pendant Lighting

How to Choose Pendant Lighting

Lighting is an integral part of your home décor. You want something functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. You have so many choices when it comes to style, materials, shapes, sizes, even lighting types. You can build your décor around your lighting choices, or you can find a pendant lighting type that fits into your décor.

If you are thinking about incorporate pendant lighting into the spaces in your home, here are a few things that you need to know.

What is pendant lighting?

Pendant lighting is a light fixture that is suspended from the ceiling. It can be a lone fixture, a cluster of fixtures, or several fixtures spaced apart. They often hang by a rod, chain, or cord. Pendant lights are very flexible when it comes to décor choices and many fixture styles can suit several different types of home décor. What may work as contemporary in one home’s design scheme may give off a vintage vibe in another.

The beauty of this lighting choice is that it allows you to give your creativity full reign and the end result is absolutely stunning.

Glass Light Single Dome Pendant
Metal Light Kitchen Island Bulb Pendant
Metal Black Gold Light Single Dome Pendant
Metal Glass Light Cluster Globe Pendant
Metal Light Kitchen Island Cylinder Pendant
Wood Black Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant

What style of pendant lighting should I choose?

Decorating your home is all about personal taste. Adding pendant lighting provides you a great opportunity to incorporate your own style into even the most sparsely decorated room, so that is uniquely you. There are so many styles to choose from so finding the right one (or several) is just a matter of having an idea of what you want and looking for it.

Farmhouse and Bohemian designs are extremely popular right now, but glam styles are always a hit too. Traditional and contemporary styles, while at completely opposite ends of the design spectrum, are classic staples.

Common styles include:

  • Industrial - metal, simple, metal shades and wire shades with exposed bulbs
  • Bohemian (boho) - woven, fringed, beaded, or anything with a handmade look. Natural materials such as wicker or braided hemp, that give a carefree, down to earth vibe.
  • Rustic - wood (think black matte or rubbed bronze), metal, and glass. Charming and rural with a "down home" feel.
  • Coastal - natural materials with a "beachy" feel. Materials may include woven rope, coral, or petrified wood.
  • Mid-Century Modern - vintage or retro, marked by artsy, bold designs.
  • Traditional - 18th century vibe, regal, pleated pendants and chandeliers.
  • Farmhouse - stainless steel and chrome materials with wire grate shades.
  • Glam - dazzling, shiny, sparkly, and rich. Materials may include glass, gold, and crystal. Very ritzy and ornamental.
  • Contemporary - shapes are sculptured in glass, marble, and metal. Futuristic, stark, and clean look as much for show as for function.
  • Transitional - a mix of several different styles
Industrial Antique Copper Light Single Dome Pendant
Rustic Weathered Oak Geometric Light Lantern Geometric Pendant
Coastal Glass Metal Aged Bronze Brushed Light Single Cylinder Pendant

How do I know what size pendant lighting to get?

You want your lighting choices to blend well into your home décor, enhancing it, not overwhelming it. Lighting that is too large will dominate the room while lighting that is too small will upset the balance. It should all work together to create the atmosphere you want. That is why it is so important to get the right size fixture for the space you are lighting.

Pendant lighting sizes come in three ranges:

  • Mini pendant– under 10 inches
  • Medium pendant – 10 inches to 20 inches
  • Large pendant – more than 20 inches

Measure the area in your home where you will be installing the lighting, then find a lighting option that works in that space.

This simple formula will give you a jumping off point for determining the size you need:

Length of Your Room + Width of Your Room = Diameter of the Pendant You will Need

This works whether you are installing one light or several.

Mini Metal Glass Single Cylinder Pendant
Small Clear Glass Single Globe Pendant
Oversized Linear Satin Nickel Kitchen Island Linear LED Pendant

How high to hang pendants?

Hanging your pendant lighting is a little more precise than other types of lighting. You aren’t just finding the right place to put the light; you also have to consider the length it hangs and the spaces between the fixtures (for multiple pendants).

Most companies include more than enough rope, cord, or whatever material is used to hang the light. This allows you to customize it to fit your home. You don’t want it to hang too high or too low, so decide what is best before you make any adjustments.

The rule of thumb is provide a 30- to 36-inch clearance between the surface of the table or countertop and the lowest part of the pendant. Also, consider the light disbursement as well as the likelihood that your lights will encounter human traffic (and bump their head on it).

If your lights are suspended by a rod, check the length. Many brands have rods that are adjustable, but there are some that don’t so make sure you know what you are getting.

Can I hang my pendant lighting wherever I want?

The lighting police are not likely to come banging on your door and make you take down your pendants but be aware that some lighting is made specifically for outdoor use or spaces that may be prone to moisture like bathrooms. Others are not. If you are planning to add lighting to a space with unique atmospheric needs, check the electrical specifications for the location rating of your light. Make sure you are getting a fixture designed for wet or damp environments.

What’s the difference between the types of lighting?

Before you buy, check the type of light or light bulb that your pendant uses to make sure it is something you can live with (can you replace the bulb easily?). Pendants use all types of light bulbs from fluorescent to LED to halogen. Have an idea of what you like and how easy it is to get.

The other aspect of lighting is the illumination type. There are three: General, task, and accent.

  • General – Overall illumination
  • Task – Illuminate specific spots
  • Accent – Visual interest by spotlighting focal areas

Make sure you check the specifications on the pendant light before you buy so you can make sure you are getting exactly what you want.

Should I get a dimmer switch?

Some lighting fixtures are pre-set with multiple lighting modes or dimmer switch compatibility. If you want the ability to change the ambiance of the room with the flip (or turn) of a switch or change the lighting level depending on the time of day, then you may want to go with lighting that can be adjusted.

Chrome Crystal Candle Style Drum Pendant
Clear Glass Metal Drum Lantern Drum Pendant

How do I determine how much lighting I need?

Determining the amount of lighting that you need in a room is mostly personal preference. Of course, you want the bathroom and kitchen to be very well lit and you probably want adjustable lighting in the living room and bedrooms. However, there is a more scientific way to find out how much lighting your room needs. Try this formula:

Width of Room X Length of Room = Square Footage of Room Square Footage of Room X Foot Candles Needed = Amount of Lumens

Foot candles are how bright a light is when it is one foot away from its source. These are some general guidelines for the number of foot candles needed per room:

  • Living room – 10-20
  • Kitchen – 30-40
  • Over stove and sink – 70-80
  • Dining room – 30-40
  • Bedroom – 10-20
  • Hall – 5-10
  • Bathroom – 70-80

You can find the rated lumens on most pendant lighting fixtures. If you aren’t certain, you can contact the company and they should be able to provide you with the information.

Pendant lighting is a great way to add your own personal touch to even the starkest of rooms. Take the time to find something that speaks to you as well as works in your room. The beauty of decorating is that you don’t have to stick to the standards. You can write your own rules.

Foter Magazine is a premier architecture, decoration, interiors and design website. We inspire and guide you to make your home a more attractive place.


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