Living Space: Brilliant ideas for choosing a chandelier

Dec. 15, 2011 at 6:15 a.m.

Mini-lamp shades on a chandelier direct the light downward for an intimate touch.

Mini-lamp shades on a chandelier direct the light downward for an intimate touch.

By Kathryn WeberOnce relegated to dining rooms only, chandeliers are now showing up everywhere from nurseries to patios and show no signs of slowing their infiltration into the entire house. And why not? Ceiling fans in every room become tedious, but a chandelier provides instant glamour and sparkle. But before adding or replacing a chandelier, take into account a few key considerations.

Right light

Not all chandeliers provide the same kind of light. Some are bright because the bulbs are bare and exposed. Many have glass shades that cast a colored light in the room. Gold shades will give a room a soft, yellow glow. If you simply want to light a room, choose a chandelier with bulbs or translucent glass shades. On the other hand, if you simply want to light more of a table or bed, pick a chandelier with opaque glass shades or mini lamp shades that direct the light downward.

Right height

There's some disagreement about whether chandeliers should hang closer to a surface or to the ceiling. This depends on where they're being used and the style of chandelier. A small, pendant-style chandelier in a bedroom should be placed more toward the ceiling than a dining room chandelier. The height and size of a room will also influence where you hang a chandelier. Be sure you have a strong helper to hold the fixture so it can be raised, or lowered until it looks just right.

Style points

Even large, walk-in closets can be instantly upgraded to dressing suites by adding a chandelier. When trying to decide what type of chandelier is best, bear in mind that cleaning can be labor intensive. Simpler designs are easier to keep sparkling, while crystal chandeliers, however beautiful, take much more effort to maintain. Try to place a glitzy chandelier where it will lend the most impact, such as the dining room. Or, go for the unexpected and place a chandelier in a nursery or teen bedroom to strike a unique chord.

Size it right

Size should also be factored into your choice. The scale of the chandelier should match the scale of the room. A quick and easy way to determine the scale is to add the width and length of the room together. The resulting number will give you correct size in inches for a chandelier. For example, for a room measuring 12 feet by 12 feet, a 24-inch chandelier will be sized appropriately.

A chandelier, whether ornate or simple, is not complete without one key accessory: a dimmer switch. You can create a completely different look and mood by controlling the lighting intensity of your fixture.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her web site,



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