CHOOSING THE RIGHT CHANDELIER AND GETTING IT HUNG PROPERLY
Whether you're a traditionalist, modernist or somewhere in between, light over any table is always necessary.
Does that mean you have to have a traditional chandelier, per se?
Today, chandeliers have many purposes; whether your using one above a banquet table in a formal dining room, over a small round table in the kitchen, or over a multi-purpose table at one end of the family room.
SOME PRACTICAL REASONS FOR CHANDELIERS (et al)
- Centers and anchors the table in the space.
- Makes the tabletop and what happens on it easy to see.
- Creates ambiance for meals, buffet table settings or games.
- May add a different design element to a room.
- Can make a cold, modern space feel cozier without going traditional.
- Can make a traditional room feel fresher and more up-to-date by using a contemporary one.
- Fixtures with real candles can give a wonderful ambiance to any style room.
The chandelier market is sooo flooded with zillions of shitty, overdone light fixtures, most of which are totally crap-ola that it's hard to find a good one, and then once you do, how do you determine if it's correct for your room?
CHANDELIER: Usually, a multi-armed fixture, often with candles or globes; can have real candles or electrified candles.
LANTERN: A fixture without arms; the candles, bulbs or globes are surrounded by a glass container which can be round, square or any shape; often hooded.
PENDANT: Often a modern or contemporary light fixture, usually without arms. A lantern without glass is a pendant.
CEILING MOUNT: A fixture for a small space; it's attached snugly to the ceiling with no chain or drop at all. Often for hallways, or low ceilings.
RECESSED: A fixture which is recessed into the ceiling; sometimes called a 'High-Hat' or 'can' which emits light through an aperture which is flush with the ceiling.
It's All About Scale and Appropriateness!!
HERE ARE CHANDELIERS SCALED PROPERLY WITH THE TABLES BELOW AND HUNG AT THE APPROPRIATE HEIGHT WITH THE 9' CEILINGS
BELOW, LANTERNS HUNG AT THE APPROPRIATE HEIGHT AND SCALED PROPERLY WITH THE TABLE SIZES BELOW THEM
HOW TO MEASURE FOR EIGHT FOOT CEILINGS
- Fixture should be 30" off the table top if it has a down-tapered bottom. (you know the kind, often with a ball at the bottom)
- If it has a flat bottom it should be about 36" to 42" off the table top.
- A lanterns base or bottom tip should be 30" off the table top.
- NEVER buy a traditional chandelier that is wider than it is long! It's dumb looking..looks like a country club hallway or casino.
- Don't get a chandelier that looks heavy (if you can't see through it, it's heavy).
- Fixture should never, ever be wider than the table its over.
- A fixture should not be more than two-thirds the width of the table its over (a round or banquet style table!)
- Never use two traditional chandeliers over a banquet table, regardless of how big the table is, looks like a conference room.
- Smaller scaled pendant fixtures (usually contemporary) are OK in multiples over a banquet table.
- Don't use a medallion, Period.
- Do NOT use a rusched fabric cord/chain cover.
NINE to TEN FOOT CEILINGS
- Fixtures should be 32" - 43" off the table top
- Fixtures should be approximately 36" to 48" wide
- Medallions are OK, but needs to be very simple.
- Lanterns should be 38" - 46" off table the top
- Flat bottom fixtures should be at least 42" off the table top
- Two lanterns over a banquet table are OK, if of a simple design
TEN FOOT CEILINGS AND ABOVE
This is hard "absentee" as several factors become more important: The overall volume of the room; the design of the fixture; the shape of the table and what else is going on are ALL important in the overall decision. Here's a few loose guidelines.
- Fixture should be 36"-43" off the table top
- Fixtures should be Greater than 36" wide but no wider than 52" (usually).
- Lanterns should be 48" off the table top
- Lanterns diameter shouldn't be greater than one-third the width of table.
- Fixtures should almost always be centered in the room. They can be tweaked a bit to provide space to pass in front of buffet or a heavily used passage, but it shouldn't be visually obvious.
- Round table: Lantern diameters should be not be more than one-third of the width of the table its over.
- Round table: Lanterns shouldn't be smaller in diameter than one-quarter of the tables diameter
- Banquet table: Lanterns should not be less than one-third of the tables narrowest width.
- Banquet table: If a chandelier or lantern is used with real candles, it should be supplemented with at least two (depending on table length) recessed lights placed directly over the table, half-way between chandelier's outer edge and end of table.
- Recessed lights should be (4" diameter) halogen.
- Use one recessed light for each 36 inches of banquet table top (outside the chandeliers diameter)
- Do not place recessed lights above the chandeliers arms as it will create shadows.
- I also prefer recessed lights supplementing an electrified chandelier. The point is: The recessed lights light the table top, making the settings sparkle and food look appetizing while the chandelier is dimmed, creating the ambiance and flattering light.
- Make sure your box in the ceiling can handle the weight of that iron chandelier you just bought! Ask where you buy the fixture "what is the fixtures weight?" then the electrician installing it can accommodate it properly.
- Traditional fixtures should always have clear flame-tip bulbs.
- If your using small shades use white/opalescent (hard to find) not frosted, torpedo bulbs (without the flame tip).
- If you're using shades, choose simple ones, don't make them too decorative. I usually prefer parchment (translucent, semi-opaque or opaque)
- Never, ever, ever think to place the chandelier high so you can have some huge-ass flower arrangement in the middle of the table, flowers should always be low so you can see the person across from you, stick with the aforementioned chandelier height guidelines.
- Chains should be thick, and have some weight. The chain you buy at Home Depot is crap, you need good quality chain. Ones with decorative links are OK.
- Seedy glass vs. clear glass: Seedy glass is good for fixtures where you can't reach to clean often. It's good in Mediterranean style homes. Clear glass is almost always the most elegant, however.
- Fixtures are best when in they compliment other finishes in the room. That's not a firm rule but a guideline. A chippy-white finish can totally update a Colonial Williamsburg style chandelier; whereas a polished nickel finish on a large lantern make it appear less bulky
- Candles: Whether real or artificial must be white, ecru or cream. NO drippy wax, not burnt wax edges, etc. Real beeswax covers are sometimes OK, but they get very dirty as they're real wax and hold the dust like a magnet.
- Wooden chandeliers are almost always country looking (Venetian wooden ones are quite high-glam though). They're wonderful for rooms with, or needing patina.
- If you have a room with a very high ceiling and bulb changing or cleaning is a challenge there are electric lifts specifically for light fixtures. The electric lift lowers the fixture to any set length for cleaning and the entire mechanism is recessed in the ceiling. 973-Standard Light Lifts 810-Aladdin Light Lift Hawkins Electric Supply
TRADITIONALLY STYLED CRYSTAL FIXTURES
These below are all gorgeous interpretations of traditional chandeliers. They are perfect for creating patina and are not overdone with details
COUNTRY STYLE CHANDELIERS
Less formal, less busy, more patina; they're are good for interiors with a theme. e.g., French country, English cottage, Italian villa,
These are good in homes that want a fresher look, yet have some warmth in their character. These are all available in many different finishes too.
MODERN, LARGE PENDANTS
Easy on the crystals with modern fixtures
they'll "date" very quickly!
CONTEMPORARY & TRADITIONAL SMALL PENDANTS
Be careful with Pendants, they're becoming quite overused
now days. Modern, Murano ones tend to look very Starbucks'y
Always good, safe designs; the different finishes
(blackened iron, nickel, polished brass, bronze)
can make these go from traditional to transitional easily
If you see it everywhere, Furniture stores, Catalogues, Restaurants,
or at Home Depot, etc. YOU DON'T WANT IT!
ALL OF THE FIXTURES SHOWN IN THIS NEWSLETTER
ARE FROM THE FOUR SOURCES BELOW:
Niermann Weeks - luxury lighting, seating, and accessories
Home Lighting and Light Fixtures by LAMPS PLUS - Offering Quality Lamps and Lighting Fixtures
Shades of Light
Shades of Light
Lighting: Home Lighting & Lighting Fixtures at Restoration Hardware
Regal French Chandelier Wisteria
OTHER GOOD QUALITY VENDORS
Antique & Vintage Style Lighting and Glass Shades: Classic Designs
Hinson Lighting - Ceiling Lamps
You Can Do It, I'm Here to Help!