How To Choose a Pendant Light

Written by: Erica Spangler

Design Specialist
Use this pendant lighting buying guide to help you find the perfect design choice for your space. From sizing tips to the latest pendant trends, let us know if you have any other pendant lighting questions.

Find the perfect pendants by following the steps listed in this guide.

Pendant Sizing and Proper Placement Tips
Use these tips to help you make sure your pendants will illuminate your space well and look balanced.

Do You Need a Small or a Large Pendant Light?

Choosing a Mini Pendant

  • Defined by its smaller size
  • Generally 10 inches or less in width
  • Substitute for chandeliers or island lighting
Shop Mini Pendants

Choosing a Large Pendant

  • Defined by its larger size
  • Greater than 10 inches wide
  • Better for a larger space
  • Great for a foyer
Shop Large Pendants

Proper Pendant Length

Ceiling to Kitchen Counter

The pendant should be between 30 inches and 40 inches above your kitchen counter tops. Pendants over a kitchen counter look great lower because they can also serve as a focal point for the kitchen. Typically, kitchen lighting is the one home decor piece you can easily show off.

Ceiling to Dining Table

The pendant should be between 30 inches and 36 inches above your table's surface.

Ceiling to GameTable

The pendant should be between 32 inches and 36 inches above your table's surface.

Proper Pendant Spacing

One Pendant Over Table

Directly center the pendant over the middle of the table.

Two or More Pendants Over Table

Make sure that the pendant bulbs are about 16 inches apart center to center.

Pendant Lighting Style
These are the common pendant types that have maintained popularity over time.

Linear

  • Defined by more than one pendant in a linear line
  • Larger in size
  • Great for over a table or island

These offer superb task lighting with the direct lighting it emits. If you are intimidated by track lighting, this is a great substitute and easier to install.

Shop Linear Pendants

Drum

  • Defined by the drum shape
  • Drum style softens the light
  • Ambient lighting option

Since the drum of the pendant emits light evenly and softly, this is a great option for a small dining table or even for a different look in a smaller bedroom.

Shop Drum Pendants

Multi

  • Typically three or more lights per fixture
  • Defined by having multiple pendants hanging from one canopy
  • Typically each pendant is at variegated heights

This has become a popular pendant type to substitute chandeliers. They have the same sophisticated appeal with a more modern look.

Shop Multi Pendants

Bowl

  • Defined by the bowl shape
  • Larger in size
  • Substitute for chandeliers or ceiling lights

Since most bowl shaped pendants direct light upward, this provides a softer and more ambient lighting experience. For a less bold statement than a chandelier and more intricate light than a ceiling light, bowl pendants illuminate dining room tables and foyers well.

Shop Bowl Pendants

Trending Pendant Lighting
These pendants have gained popularity and momentum lately.

Globe Pendants

  • Spherical shape
  • Globe may be caged or solid
Shop Globe Pendants

Industrial and Barn Pendants

  • Filament bulbs
  • Has gears, nuts, bolts or pulley systems

Shop Industrial Pendants

Shop Barn Lights

School House Pendants

  • Glass globes
  • Common in 1920s designs
  • Commonly seen in courthouses, libraries and schools
Shop Schoolhouse Pendants

Lantern Pendants

  • Encased in metal frame on all sides
  • Bottom can be open or closed
  • Many different shapes available
Shop Lantern Pendants

Lighting Direction
Determine the lighting direction you need based on the amount of light you have where you want your new pendant light fixture.

Up Lighting

  • Light casts upward
  • Offers a mellower light
  • Great for ambient lighting

Up lighting pendants combine the dramatic look of a long, hanging pendant with the softer lighting experience with the glass shade.

Shop Up Lit Pendants

Down Lighting

  • Light casts downward
  • Creates a direct light
  • Great for accent and task lighting

Down lit pendants direct light onto a counter, table or the floor to create a dramatic and modern feel. Pairing several together offers a great way to light a kitchen or hallway from more traditional light fixtures, such as island lighting or chandeliers.

Shop Down Lit Pendants

Ambient Lighting

  • Casts light in all directions
  • Offers a wider lighting range
  • Great for full illumination

Ambient pendants essentially work as either a chandelier or ceiling light replacement. These add style to a room where something like a chandelier may be too large.

Shop Ambient Lighting Pendants

Canopy or Track Pendants?
NOTE: Most pendant lights use a canopy cover to cover the wires, while there are track lights where the canopy also is a transformer. The installation requirements between these two types will differ.

Canopy Pendants

  • Installed directly to ceiling
  • Does not require a track
  • Connect to a junction box
  • Easier to install

Track Pendants

  • Installed directly to a track
  • Requires a track lighting setup
  • Customization can make buying complex