When trying to use a chandelier as a focal point in your home, the real challenge is choosing the right piece for the purpose it will serve. It is a fine line to walk, you want something that is noticeable, but not so overdone that it is considered gaudy. You don’t want to create a negative focal point, but rather one that your house guests will admire and compliment you on. In order to determine just what piece to place in your home, your first consideration should be where in your home it will be located. Once you have decided on the location, the following questions should be asked:
How high are the ceilings? What are other size considerations?
What is the overall style of your home or room?
What style of chandelier do you desire and how do you turn that into a focal point?
Your new chandelier should be large enough to draw the eye without taking up so much space that there is nothing to see but the fixture itself. One way to accomplish this is to keep your ceiling height in mind.
If you have high ceilings, you will want to have a long enough chain to hang your fixture as low as you desire. Your chandelier will fill in some of the open space toward the top of your room, making the general feel of the room more friendly and inviting. As a general rule, you will want to have the bottom of the chandelier about 8 feet above the floor. If you have low ceilings, you will want to be very careful with your selection. No lighting fixture should be so low enough that people have to duck around it just to walk through the room. Even in an otherwise well-organized house, low-hanging chandeliers can make an open room feel strangely cluttered.
Dining rooms are an exception to this rule. You will want to hang your fixture high enough that, when seated around the dinner table, you are able to see the other diners across the table from you. This height will vary depending on your set up, but the bottom of the fixture will most likely be between 24 inches and 36 inches above the surface of the table.
For a more detailed description of how to choose the proper size chandelier, please reference our article "Chandelier Lighting Effects."
Your Personal Style
Before making the final decision as to which fixture you want to purchase, reflect on your own personal style. Your style will be reflected in your house and in the room in which you plan to locate the chandelier. Whether your home is classical, contemporary, rustic, or some other category, there is a chandelier that will match your decor and can become a true focal point.
Complementing Style with Desire
Just as with a vase of roses, you will want to choose an odd number of fixtures for any one room. When there are two roses in a vase, they attract equal attention, but the third draws the eye as a focus. The same is true with lighting fixtures. If you desire more than one, choose an odd number with one chosen to particularly stand out (whether it is larger than or more ornate than the others).
One of the best ways to bring attention to your chandelier is to highlight and fit the flavor of your room without overpowering it. If the design that catches your eye is popular now but overly decorative, take the basic idea and scale it down a couple notches. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting tired of the fixture or that visitors will think your chandelier is overpowering the rest of your beautiful room. Consider looking at our articles "Are All Crystals the Same" and "Different Types of Glass Explained" for ideas of how to choose a fixture that is understated, yet eye-catching. Using these tools is like using makeup to accentuate your face, but not mask it.
One of the easiest tools to limit your choices is to search by the style of the room in which your new chandelier will hang. Themes that can fit in with your decor that are easily searchable include:
- Retro is an Art Deco style with artsy fixtures that occasionally feel post-modern
- Asian themes generally include Japanese (more square and geometric) and Chinese (bold reds and ornate)
- Contemporary/Modern includes metallic finishes and is angular and square
- Crystal chandeliers focus on the crystals for their style
- Rustic has a more handmade, natural, country feel
- Tiffany style fixtures are modeled after the work of the renowned Mr. Tiffany, who did wonders with stained glass
- Traditional/Classic fixtures feel timeless with curves and symmetry
- Transitional combines traditional with contemporary, and is elegantly simple
- Tropical evokes the feeling of the tropics with natural material, shells, and palms
- Wrought Iron describes the material of the fixture and is reminiscent of Renaissance styles