Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way

Good morning, good morning!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Can you believe it’s already almost Valentine’s Day?  It feels like Christmas just happened!  I feel Spring comin’ on, and I am so excited!  :-)

Last week, I wrote a post about pendant lighting.  Remember, I am sharing with you a series of posts about lighting since I just went through a very intense class all about lighting and I feel that I have a ton of information to share with you!  My very first lighting post on this blog was pretty technical — basically I described the characteristics, benefits, and cons of your everyday light bulb decisions.  Very general, but I wanted to start us out with a foundation.  So.  That brings us to today, and I wanted to write about something that really blew me away when I was learning about lighting — there is a correct height at which to hang your chandelier, and that height is…  2 1/2-3 feet off the table to the underside of the chandelier.  The underside includes any jewels, beads, etc. that may be decoratively hanging down.

I know.  It’s not groundbreaking.  It’s not even all that interesting.  However, when going through magazines and paying attention to this aspect of dining room lighting, I realized that it is probably one of the most broken rules of all.  And so I got interested.  And I started to look through more and more magazines — tearing out sheets of paper and organizing them into incorrect height and correct height categories.  And you know what?  When I was finished with the stack of twenty or so magazines that I had acquired so far that month, I realized that the stack labeled “incorrect” level was more than twice as thick.  Interesting, right?  

The truth is, we pick up these beautiful, glossy magazines and garner so much inspiration from them, but we forget that they make mistakes, too.  Or at least I did.  I would venture to guess that many times the chandelier height may be altered for the photo shoot in order to produce the best picture possible, but still.  I’m going to show you some examples, and by the end of this post, you’ll be able to tell when chandelier height is just…wrong.  You’ll feel it in your bones that it’s wrong.

In the post that I wrote about pendant lighting, I made a reference about supporting actors and movie stars when it comes to your lighting.  I’ll make this point again, so if you have already read that post, hang on a second.  Think of your chandelier as the star of your movie — the most glamorous, most talented, the greatest asset to your film.  But you need supporting actors, right?  This is where your recessed downlighting, wall sconces, etc. come in.  The point that I am trying to get across is that you need more than just a chandelier to light your space.  If you don’t have it, you’re going to have to write “Please bring a flashlight” on every dinner party invitation you ever write.  And some people will forget!  And then you’ll be eating in the dark.  Adding to this, I cannot stress how important I think a dimmer switch is for all of your lighting, really — but especially for your chandelier.

Okay.  Phew.  Now let’s look at some pretty pictures.

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way  {Inspiration Affirmation}
This is definitely correct.  Can you kind of feel it in your bones, too?  You all are probably reading this blog because you get this design stuff like all the rest of us do, you know?  You’re our peeps.  So by looking at this, not only is it correctly hung, but it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling.  Like, “ahhhh, all is right with the world.”

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
Now this one?  Not so much.  But isn’t it interesting how upon first glancing at this photo, it’s really pretty.  The furniture is gorgeous, the windows are aplenty, the glass vases on the little popout on the side are dreamy and smooth-looking.  But something feels a little off.  And it turns out, it is!  That chandelier is way too high.  Now, there are big skylight cutouts in the ceiling which would bring in more than enough light if you were to be having breakfast in this room, but it really closes out the possibilities for dinnertime.  That is going to be one very dark room.

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
Okay.  You’ve gotta tell me that just by looking at this, it’s a little off-putting, right?  To me, that ceiling feels like it is just going to float away and leave me without a roof over my head — there’s not enough grounding it, and the space seems to be too airy for my liking.  It feels a little uncomfortable to me.  And I don’t see any recessed lighting in that ceiling, which scares me.  I really wonder how functional this table is.

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
This is good.  I like this.  I feel comfortable in this — I’d like to be in this room.  The chandelier is really a great width for the table, too.  It fills up a lot of visual space, and makes a statement — because that’s a big table, you wouldn’t want a skimpy fixture.  It would look way out of proportion.  That chandelier looks like a great size, and I don’t feel like it’s pulling the ceiling down with it, you know?

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
I mean…honestly.  How cute is this?  Cassandra Lavalle of coco + kelley did an amazing job with this little dining area in her home.  The chandelier is hung at the correct level, which is awesome, but there are more things that I like about it.  This is a small space, really, and I love the translucent color of the chandelier with just a touch of pastel-y aqua — this chandy doesn’t take up any visual space.  It almost floats into the background until you realize it’s there and then you catch yourself thinking, “Wow.  I love that!”  I really just think this is a fabulous space.

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
This is beautiful.  The chandelier is hung at a great height, and I would almost consider this luminal art — it’s like a sculpture hung from the ceiling.  It reminds me a lot of the Mexican Tree of Life.  Does it remind you of that, too?

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
Too high, too high!  And no ceiling light.  I’m scared. And it’s a beautiful chandelier, too, so this is a bummer.  It’s really architectural, and I like that.

Chandeliers: Sometimes There is a Right Way
You can probably guess what I’m going to say about this…too high.  And so beautiful so it’s really a tragedy.  I love how detailed it is and the bright white color of it, but this room feels unbalanced to me in a lot of ways.  Sticking with just the chandelier, though, because that’s the lesson at hand, you know the story.  Check out those beautimous lucite ghost chairs, though.  I die.

What do you think about getting technical with your chandelier now?  Do you have some rehanging to do?  ;-)  Are you going to go through magazines and find pictures of incorrect and correct hanging height like I did?  I found myself really enjoying it — it really makes you look at the room in a more critical way, which is the first step in noticing what your personal style is.  

Image Sources: {Design Sponge}  {Lonny}  {Atlanta Homes Mag}  {Houzz}  {Coco + Kelley}  {Elle Decor}  {Luxe}  {ivillage}

Valentine's Day Signature  {Inspiration Affirmation}



  1. S. Morley

    Great information! I’d love to chat… but I have to go measure my chandelier distances!! I know I have one that is hung too high because I swaged it over to accomodate a new table placement. Now what?! Lol.

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