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Pendant Lighting - What height is right?


By Yanic Simard

Pendant fixtures are an all-time favourite because they can be installed in any room of the home. They can be casual or formal – dressed up or dressed down. The challenge most people face is deciding at what height to hang them.

Here are some tips to help guide you:

Hallway/Entry Especially in your entry, your pendant light should make some sort of statement since not
much is going on in this area of the home. This can be one of the most difficult places determine how high to hang the light since there probably isn’t a piece of furniture underneath to help judge the distance. A general rule of thumb to follow is to hang it at least eight feet above the floor. If you have doors that swing out toward the fixture, make sure you take note of them so you leave the appropriate spacing for this also.

Staircase If you’re looking to add drama and interest to your staircase, hanging a light fixture is the perfect way to do just that. Having plenty of clearance for walking up the stairs is ultimately all that needs to be considered when installing a pendant here.

Over a Table 28-32 inches above the table top is where this light fixture will usually hang, though it can be hung lower or higher, it’s more of a personal preference. Keep in mind for conversation, and for serving and passing food, you don’t want it to hang right in your face while seated. Consider mounting two or three pendants above the table for added light and visual appeal.

Above the Kitchen Island Weather it’s an area for cooking or an area for sitting and watching someone cook, kitchen pendant lights are normally hung 28-35 inches over the island. It really depends on the function of the island, how the area will be used most often and what you’re comfortable with. Again, hanging two or three pendants in a row can look quite beautiful.

Bathroom Instead of traditional sconces, hanging two pendants on either side of a mirror looks stunning. Choosing a fixture with clear glass will offer more light which is good for makeup and getting ready, while a diffused shade offers a more ambient feel. The middle of the light component of the pendant should hang at where the middle of the mirror is placed, close enough to the wall so no one will bump into it, but not touching the wall itself. If you’re just hanging one in the centre of the room, you again want to make sure it clears the door.

Middle of the Living Room With furniture underneath the pendant, such as a sofa or coffee table, don’t
be afraid to hang your light fairly low. Usually the light will be hung over a seating area, which usually an area for conversation, as a spot for reading, watching television or resting – so you want to make sure it’s well lit but not over-bright. I would suggest having this light installed on a dimmer switch so that you have the luxury of setting your own tone of brightness.

Above the Bed A pendant light hung above the bed can serve as a lovely focal point for any bedroom. Fixtures here are usually hung rather high so that you don’t end up hitting it in the middle of the night tossing and turning or when you jump out of bed because you’re late for work. Also keep in
mind the sight line – if you have a television on the wall in front of your bed, you’ll want to hang it high enough so it doesn’t obstruct your view. On either side of the Bed In place of table lamps, I love the idea of hanging a pendant above each side table. Just like in the bathroom, you want it to be hung close enough to the wall so you don’t hit it, but not so it’s actually touching the wall. I would leave about 12-20 inches above the bottom of the side table so that you have room for accessories and books.

Side notes
› Rules are meant to be broken – common sense sometimes over powers any guidelines, so feel free to follow your gut instinct when hanging your pendant light!
› It’s a smart idea to consult your certified electrician before hanging any light fixture. There are codes and standards that are required to be met for safety reasons.

Yanic SimardYanic Simard

Yanic is the design editor of New Condo Guide and principal
designer of Toronto Interior Design Group. Specializing in
residential and commercial projects, Yanic often applies his
signature high/low and old/new combination techniques
in developing his unique designs. He has created designs
for clients in Toronto, Montreal and Miami, and appears as
a regular guest expert on Citytv’s CityLine. Visit for
more information.

New Condo Guide Metro Vancouver Edition
April 20 - May 4, 2012  Volume 02 Issue 08