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Chandeliers: Sizing & Placement

Chandeliers: Sizing & Placement

Choosing a chandelier is not as easy as you think. They not only illuminate a space, they also add a nice decorative touch. But to serve these purposes, you need a fixture that is the right size and placed in the proper place. This will determine whether the chandelier will effectively provide light and enhance visual appeal. Knowing the measurements of the space lets you know what dimensions your fixture must have and how low to hang it from the ceiling for adequate illumination. Chandeliers also need to match the room’s theme and decor or it will ruin the look and feel of the space. But chandeliers aren’t just for indoors. You can install them outdoors, as well, so long as they have the proper rating. So, make the most of your chandelier by learning how to pick one well-suited for the space.

Ceiling Height Matters

The distance between the top of the chandelier and the ceiling will impact the effect the chandelier has in the room. If a chandelier is too low, you may bump into it, and if a chandelier is too high, it may not emit enough light. The standard ceiling is 8ft tall. If a ceiling is taller, the rule of them is to increase the chandeliers height by 3 inches for every extra foot. Chandeliers in an open pathway need 7ft between the bottom of the fixture and the floor to easily and safely navigate the space. If you decide to hang one over your bathtub, increase the clearance by a foot so you can get in and out of the tub without hitting your head. However, pendants and flush mounts centered on the ceiling are best for entryways, instead of chandeliers, because you don’t have to worry about crashing into them.

Adjusting Chandelier Suspension

Once you know the height of the ceiling, you may need to adjust the chandelier’s suspension. A fixture with chains is easily adjustable. Lower the space between the top of the fixture and the ceiling by adding links or remove links to raise it. Properly measure the amount of electrical wire because you only get one chance to cut it correctly. Make sure to leave extra electrical wire. You may need it during installation. Hide that wire inside the ceiling housing.

Some chandeliers have downrods which can’t be cut. However, they have varying lengths that can be attached and removed. Other fixtures may have a sliding feature for shortening and lengthening the cord. Ceilings higher than the standard 8ft may require a motorized ceiling lift so that you can adjust the distance between the fixture and the ceiling. The feature is also convenient for cleaning and replacing bulbs. If you do need assistance with this process, it is best to consult a licensed electrician.

Ceiling Types

Sloped and vaulted ceilings are angled which affects how a chandelier hangs. Chandelier with chains are easy to install because gravity will take control, allowing the movable chains to naturally hang straight. Be sure to place your chain or cord inside a junction box. However, ceilings with downrods need to be “sloped ceiling adaptable” to accommodate varying ceiling angles. Larger chandeliers may need extra support. A ceiling can’t handle chandeliers heavier than 50 pounds so it’s best to install an expandable chandelier or fan brace between the ceiling joists. Sometimes your junction box may not be near the place you want to install to install your chandelier. If that happens to be the case, attach a hook to a ceiling stud, making sure it is secure enough to support the chandelier’s weight. Then drape or “swag” the chain over the hook.


How to Measure Your Chandelier

The incorrect size can bring down visual appeal, look awkward in the space, or be an obstruction. Know your chandelier’s dimensions to avoid these issues have it fit perfectly within the space. The height of the chandelier depends on the height of the ceiling. If your ceiling is tall, then your fixture must be tall. If your ceiling is low, then you need a smaller fixture. It is important to calculate the vertical dimension of the chandelier in inches. Simply multiply the height of the ceiling by 2.5 - 3. So, an 8ft ceiling needs a chandelier that is 20-24 inches tall. Larger rooms need wider chandeliers. To get the correct diameter of the chandelier, add the length and width of the room. The sum is the diameter in inches. Or you can add the distance the light will be from the two closest walls and double it.

Proportional to Space

Before hanging the chandelier, you need to know the best place to install it. Sometimes your fixture must be proportional to the area, not the room itself. For example, if you are centering a chandelier over a seating area, calculate the dimensions of that specific area, not the entire room. Chandeliers in dining rooms need to be proportional to the dining table. Fixture styles, such as a thin linear or branching shape should be ⅔-⅘ the length of the table to avoid looking too small. A fixture that is too wide will make the table look small. If the chandelier is round or square, make sure all sides are ½-⅔ the width of the table. Don’t put a rectangular fixture over a round table or it will look out of place. Small chandeliers can be placed above tables that are about 48 inches. Chandeliers that are just about the width of the table will make a huge difference to the space. As room size increases, so does chandelier width. If your room is smaller than 10 by 10ft, go for a chandelier that is 12-20” wide. Rooms with 12 by 12ft dimensions need a 22-27” wide chandelier. Increase the width to 24-32” for a 14 by 14ft space.

It’s okay to stray from traditional proportions so long as it complements the space. Sometimes oversized chandeliers are perfect for making a dramatic statement without ruining the overall look of the room. Or your large fixture can be a simple, modern style. Draw attention to your chandelier by placing it in the center of the room as a focal point. A smaller chandelier with a sculptural design is a good fit for a small space with a low ceiling. Don’t go too small or it will disappear in the room. However, large chandeliers will overpower it. Weight also plays a role in sizing the chandelier. Heavy-looking chandeliers can be smaller and light fixtures can be wider.

Today, LED technology has given more range for creating chandelier designs. Traditional bulbs aren’t compatible with some exotic designs. Thanks to LED lights, a fixture can have a lot of negative space and still emit adequate light.

Complementing Room Theme

Your chandelier should match the overall theme of the space. Complement a chic kitchen by placing 3 mini chandeliers over an island. Ornate chandeliers are appropriate for ornate rooms. But don’t overwhelm the space with large, flashy chandeliers. Small, simple chandeliers are inappropriate for a formal dining room but fit nicely in casual rooms with white or neutral walls. Bare candelabra bulbs work with formal decor. Take the formal look down a notch with glass or chandelier shades for a casual vibe. Try different chandelier texture to change the atmosphere. Combine contemporary and traditional fixtures for uniqueness. Drum shades with crystals in modern room is an option is you’re going for trendy. If you have a traditional theme, install fixtures that light upwards. Chandeliers that light downwards create an informal atmosphere.


Damp or Wet Rated

Chandeliers placed in areas that are exposed to moisture need to have the proper rating. This is to avoid the dangers of mixing water and electricity.

Damp rated fixtures, the most common, are for areas that don’t have direct exposure to water, such as porches and patios. Areas that are directly exposed to water require wet rated fixtures. Chandeliers in the bathroom must be at least 3ft away from bathtubs and showers. Make sure there is proper ventilation to prevent moisture from collecting inside the fixture, causing malfunction.

If you want to get the most out of your chandelier, it’s important to follow these tips. The right size and proper placement of your fixture will give you the light you need while elevating the look and feel of your space.


Small chandeliers go unnoticed, large chandeliers overwhelm space. Style and visual weight affect recommended size. Visually heavy can be a little smaller, visually light fixtures can be wider. Consider room size. Smaller than 10 by 10ft needs a 17-20” wide chandelier. Increase it to 17-20” for a 12x12 room.  A chandelier in a 14x14 room should be between 24-32”. Take size of table into account.

For the diameter of a chandelier hung over a seating area, add the width and length of the seating area. You can also add the distance between the light will be from the two closest walls and add it together for the diameter. Center small pendant or flush mount in an entryway to avoid hitting it. Thin linear or chandeliers that branch out over dining room tables should be 2/3-4/5 the table length for proportion. For round tables, hang a round or square fixtures ½-2/3 table width all the way around. Use small fixtures for 48 inch round tables. Consider room décor. Place ornate fixtures in busy rooms and simple fixtures in minimalistic rooms with neutral walls. Make a statement with bulky fixtures or simple and modern designs centered in room that complements room theme. Fixtures that match table width makes an impact. Airy, simple designs provide leave negative space for an open, peaceful feel. Place small sculptural chandeliers in small spaces with low ceilings. Use chandeliers with textured materials to add to atmosphere. Combine traditional style lights with modern style lights for visual intrigue.

Room style determines chandelier type. Traditional fixtures have uplights. Bare candelabra bulbs match formal themes. Tone down formal with glass or chandelier shades. Downlights create an informal vibe. Give enough clearance between chandelier bottom and floor for low ceilings. Same with chandeliers hung over dining tables.


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Hina - August 10, 2023

I have 4m high ceiling living room and 8m long so how many chandelier do i need and how wide and long ?

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