Of course you want to love the lighting fixtures in your house. However, just because you love a fixture doesn’t mean you should buy it; you have to make sure that it is the right size. You do not want, for example, a small chandelier in a giant master bedroom, as it would look ridiculous. Below is some information on how you can be sure that you choose the right size lighting fixtures. 

Chandeliers
If you are using a chandelier or ceiling pendant above a kitchen island or table, measure the width or diameter of your table, and then subtract 12″ from that number. That number will be the maximum limit for the width or diameter of a hanging light. Keep in mind that a fixture with a busy or complex design will actually appear larger, so if that’s what is catching your eye, you’ll want to scale your maximum width down slightly.

If you have a very high vaulted ceiling, it might be best to hang the chandelier from a very long length of chain so the fixture is hung closer to the people who will be in the room, instead of being far up in the ceiling. If you have a long dining room table, you can use 2 chandeliers to light it.

For ambient lighting use, measure the length and width of the room you wish to light. Then convert this number to inches by adding them together. This is the ideal width of the fixture. The standard height for hanging a chandelier in ambient use is 7′ but adjust this as needed depending on the size of the fixture, and your ceiling heights. Although they can be a good source of general light, many chandeliers and pendants are not sufficient to light an entire room alone. Make sure to add in other sources, like lamps and/or sconces.

Foyer Lighting
A good rule of thumb is to add up the width and length of the foyer in feet to find the ideal diameter or width of a light. For a typical ceiling height of 9′ to 10′, make sure the bottom of the light is 7′ above the floor; if your foyer is tall, you might want to hang lower than that. Be aware of any potential glare in sight lines on second stories or other practicality issues in large multi-story foyers.

Bathroom Vanity Lighting
Measure the length of the bathroom mirror(s). That number will be your limit for the length of vanity bar lights. Many people choose vanities that are about 75% the length of the mirror and then mount them centrally. If you have multiple sinks or a very long mirror, you may need to chose a bar with more lights or even use more than one bar. Allow for 3″ between the top of the mirror and the bottom of the light fixture if you are using a bath bar.

Use sconces on either side of the mirror instead of a bath bar for the most ideal light, but also understand this is not possible in every bathroom. Measure the diameter and height of the table where the lamp will sit. Then, keep those numbers in mind when choosing lamp diameters. The ideal lampshade location is with the bottom of the shade at eye level when you are seated—you don’t want glare in your eyes.

Pendants
As with chandeliers, if you want to hang pendants over a table or kitchen island, measure the width or diameter of the surface, then subtract 12″ from that number. That’s the maximum limit for the width or diameter of a hanging light. Remember that a fixture with a busy or complex design will actually appear larger, so if that’s what is catching your eye, you’ll want to scale your maximum width down slightly!

Ceiling pendants should hang 12-20” below an 8’ ceiling. Add 3” for every additional foot of ceiling. There needs to be at least 1’ of clearance for people walking below the pendant. For hanging pendants above an island or table, start with 28-34” above said table as a rough guideline, but make sure to consider the sight lines of the people in the room so no one gets glare in their eyes or runs the risk of hitting their head on the pendant.

Sconces
The closer you will be to whatever the sconce is lighting, the smaller the sconce should be. So for example, in bathrooms where you will be close to the mirror, go for tiny ones of about 9″ to 10”. The rule of thumb is to mount sconces at eye level, often 65″ above the room’s finished floor. If the sconces have shades, put the bottom edges of the shades a little below eye level. Consider eye level when it comes to reducing glare and ensuring that the tallest person in the space can’t see down into the sconce. When hanging sconces beside artwork, pick sconces that will be centered beside the picture. Avoid disproportionate looks by making sure there are 2 free inches above and below the sconce.

 

The Importance of Measuring Before You Buy: How to Correctly Choose the Right Size Lighting Fixtures For Your Brand New Home

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Measuring Before You Buy: How to Correctly Choose the Right Size Lighting Fixtures For Your Brand New Home

  • Please do not buy lighting without measuring. I really liked this article. Just because you like a certain pair of sconces, if they are too small, they are too small. Accept it. See if they can be made larger. If they can’t, move on and shop for another set. I’ve seen so many homes with the wrong size lighting and it looks so awkward. Don’t be that homeowner!

  • Agreed. I have a friend that bought a chandelier for above her kitchen island, which is a huge space. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that not only was the chandelier way too small, but that she should have had more than one. That island calls for probably 3 pendants to make the design look to scale. Didn’t have the heart to tell her, since they spent so much money on the darn thing, and it took forever to install.

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