Thanks to the creativity and constant innovation of designers, chandeliers and pendant lights – meaning any lights that hang from the ceiling – now come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, styles and materials. But choosing the right one is as much about function as form. So what do you need to consider when choosing the right light to hang?
Every light should serve a purpose. Otherwise, it’s simply wasted electricity. Ambient lighting provides widespread illumination to an entire room; task lighting is directed to a specific area, such as a desk or kitchen counter, and accent lighting is used to highlight specific features, like architectural details or works of art. It is the combination of these that creates a layered, atmospheric effect.
However the light fixtures or fittings themselves – particularly hanging lights – can also have a fourth function: a decorative one.
Chandeliers are all about ambient lighting. These often ornate lights are designed to hang in the centre of a room and to be admired from all angles. The traditional use of glass or crystal beads, candles and multiple bulbs reflect and refract light, creating a sparkling diffused effect. Because they tend to be large fixtures, chandeliers work best in big, open spaces with high ceilings, such as foyers and stairwells.
Pendants tend to be simpler but are much more versatile. A single pendant is a perfect task light. Hang one either side of the bed to cast light on your bedtime reading, or position a large drum or bowl pendant directly over a round table to light up shared meals.
When hung in a line above a breakfast bar, long dining table or kitchen island, pendants provide task lighting whilst also creating a visual separation in open-concept spaces.
If arranged in clusters at varying heights, groups of pendants can make striking decorative features that also provide all-round ambient light.
There are a few simple rules of thumb to ensure your hanging lights don’t get in the way or look out of proportion. When hanging chandeliers or pendants in open spaces, make sure the bottom of your light fixture is at least seven feet from the ground, to ensure it doesn’t interrupt sight lines or knock anyone on the head.
For pendants placed over dining tables, make sure you leave around 30 inches between the tabletop and the bottom of the light, for the same reasons. For visual harmony, when arranging a line of pendants above a rectangular table, make sure the table extends at least six inches either side of the outside lights.
Finally, make sure the size of pendants or chandeliers fits harmoniously with the rest of the interior design. Too small and they’ll be lost, too large and they can become overpowering.
1. NORTH PENDANT LIGHT
Circular in form and glossy metallic in finish, these simple pendants are reminiscent of the phases of the moon, waxing and waning depending on your viewpoint. Available at www.e15.com
2. BELLVALE SMALL CHANDELIER
At only 14” high by 15” wide, this contemporary chandelier of glass spheres on curving metal stems will bring glamour to any bedroom, dressing room or dining room. Available at www.huiscayman.com
3. BOLA DISC PENDANT
Opaque, globe-shaped bulbs hang below polished metal discs that reflect their surroundings. Available in various sizes, in chrome, brass or rose gold, they can be hung individually, in series, or clustered, chandelier-style. Available at www.pablo.pablodesigns.com
4. KEM 8-LIGHT PENDANT
Add a little edge with this shiny confection of hand-blown shades, reminiscent of science lab glassware, mounted on a criss-cross frame. Available at www.althompson.com
5. HOOPS LED LINEAR PENDANT
This simple series of chrome hoops, with strips of LEDs mounted on the inner curve, can be configured in multiple ways to create striking light installations. Available at www.althompson.com
6. THREE TIERED CHANDELIER
Composed of reflective glass flutes made from recycled bud vases and finished in silver leaf, this three-tiered chandelier is exquisitely crafted for perfect luminosity. Offered in a variety of sizes. Available at www.idgcayman.com
7. BIANCA CERAMIC PENDANT
With a high-gloss white exterior, a warm gold interior and a slightly irregular, handcrafted look, this pendant lends rustic character to kitchens and dining rooms. Available at www.designstudiointeriors.shop
8. MOE’S KEPLER PENDANT
A chandelier of the future, this starburst pendant delivers a burst of light in all directions and creates an arresting focal point. Available at www.living.ky
9. AVALBANE GLASS PENDANT
This teardrop-shaped glass shade is the perfect partner for an Edison-style bulb, whether suspended over a breakfast bar, dining table or on the terrace. Available at www.ashley.ky