Chandelier Basics

The name alone is elegant, so it’s a sure bet that adding a chandelier to a room will add elegance as well.  Chandeliers are one of the most versatile lighting fixtures on the block.  They can:

  • Add ambient lighting – the overall light source for a room;
  • Add decorative elements – a  well-proportioned chandelier is oh-so appropriate for dining rooms, hallways, foyers and living rooms;
  • Add drama – a well placed chandelier in an unexpected location – the bedroom or the bathroom – is a dramatic decorating touch; and
  • Add accent lighting – a dimmer switch is must-have for chandeliers, and dim the lights down low to show off the elegant dining room table or centerpiece.

But how do you choose the right chandelier for the right room?  Aesthetics aside, let’s look at the basics for pairing down your choices:


To choose an appropriate size for any room, measure the length and width of your room in feet, add them together to get the appropriate diameter in inches.  For example, a 15 x 15 foot room would take a chandelier approximately 30 inches in diameter. 

If you’re choosing a chandelier for the dining room, you may want to base the size on the dining room table. 
Measure the width of your dining room table – say it’s 48 inches wide. 

Take ½ of your width and add 9 inches to get your chandelier diameter.
48 x ½ = 24 inches
24 + 9 = 35 inches

But rules were made to be broken, if you’re using a chandelier in a small space for dramatic effect, you can always increase the scale, or for a fun, funky grouping, hang two or three chandeliers together.

Number of Arms

Smaller rooms are just fine with 4-8 armed chandeliers, larger rooms can handle 8 and more, and the more the merrier.  Just don’t use 100 watt bulbs in them, chandelier bulbs are lower wattage for a reason.  Using twelve 40 watt bulbs is 480 watts, a little heavy – you may want to use the 25 watt bulbs instead.  Don’t use more than 400 watts on a chandelier.  Again, I can’t stress this enough – use a dimmer instead of an on/off switch.


The chandelier should have the bottom approximately 30 inches above the dining room table.  If you have a chandelier in another area, make sure it’s approximately 6-1/2 - 7 feet from the floor to avoid head bumps.  If it’s hanging over a coffee table, 5-1/2 feet is sufficient.

Changing lighting is an easy and inexpensive decorating option to adjust your home’s look and feel, and chandeliers can do just that - and in dramatic fashion.