Pendant Lighting for Every Room
Add style and function to your comprehensive lighting plan with these tips for choosing the perfect pendant lighting.
Pendant lighting is an essential part of the overall lighting story in many rooms of the home. These fixtures direct light down on the space below, providing valuable task lighting while enhancing the overall style of the space. With so many different design styles, sizes, and features to choose from, you’re sure to find a pendant light that is ideal for any space in the home. Narrowing down the search is easy when you understand the different options available and establish which features will best enhance the design of your room.
Find the Best Match for Your Home
The first step in choosing any lighting fixture for the home is determining the overall needs of the space. Evaluate the area and consider what lighting is necessary in order to be effective. The size, the amount of light output, the accessibility of the light, and the overall style of the space are all important factors to keep in mind when beginning your pendant lighting search.
If you are adding pendants to your existing lighting design, take note of the fixtures already in place and use them as a jumping off point for the style of your pendant fixtures. Pendant lighting is good for changing the appearance of a space.
Consider Bulb Type
No matter which style of lighting fixture you choose, the type of bulb should be an initial consideration. Factors include the look of the bulb, the amount of light and heat it produces, maximum recommended wattage for the fixture, and energy costs.
LED - An LED light bulb provides maximum brightness using minimal energy. This extremely long-lasting bulb can be fully integrated into the design of a pendant light in those designs that might make bulb changes difficult. It is a great option for rooms with high ceilings because bulb changes are not needed. Typically, an LED light bulb will have a lifespan 25 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb.
Additional Bulb Types - Although LED bulbs are by far the two most popular, there are other bulb types available. Halogen, CFL, and fluorescent bulbs may be used in pendant lighting designs as well. They are often brighter lights, though they use more energy and may have to be carefully disposed of due to mercury-based components.
The light direction of the lamp also has an impact on the brightness of the room. Every pendant will offer its own look, but the direction the light falls on the room will be somewhat predictable with the lamp’s design.
Ambient lighting offers light that illuminates a larger area of the room. These lights are often contained with cloudy, filtered shades to diffuse the light more evenly and prevent the interference of shadows. These pendants cast light in all directions, rather than directing it up or down, and have no particular focus.
Up lighting is a common way to provide ambient light in a room. The pendant aims the light up onto the wall or ceiling at a bright enough level that it reflects into the room around it. That focus can help accent the shape of the pendant, or create additional shadows that can change the visual effect of the room.
Down lighting is best for task work, acting as a spotlight of bright light for the people or things that are set below it. These often can make a room seem smaller or more intimate because the light is focused on a specific subject or place, drawing attention to it.
Establishing Your Style
Although lighting provides a very specific function to a space, it is also a great opportunity to reinforce the style of a room. Every room has a specific style. Review the space that needs lighting and consider the existing furnishings, color palette, and design style of the space. Popular interior furnishing styles can be found in home lighting options, with designer favorites like:
Keep the look casual and comfortable with an industrial or barn-style pendant light featuring rustic metals, nuts and bolts, or rope accents. For something more modern, choose a contemporary lighting fixture with gleaming finishes and clean style lines. Transitional lighting combines the best of both worlds, bridging the gap between casual and elegant while lending a timeless style.
Choosing the right size pendant is important to the overall design of the space.
Mini Pendant Lights (Up to 10 in. Wide) - Mini pendant lights are small in size but can be very impactful, especially when arranged in multiples. These small lights are a popular choice above long kitchen counters and islands because they can be lined up to direct light down on the work area below.
Medium Pendant Lights (10 to 20 in. Wide) - When mini lights are too small, medium pendant lights may be a more appropriate choice. These are among the most common because they are perfectly sized for many areas in your home. Place a few over a kitchen island, use them to add another layer of lighting to a bathroom, or arrange them over a nightstand for a modern look.
Large Pendant Lights (More than 20 in. Wide) - These large lights are designed to make a statement. Use them to create a bold focal point over a kitchen island or direct light down on a work area in an office. Large pendant lights are also a popular choice for lighting a dining area. Because these pendants are so large in size, they are typically used alone.
The shape of the pendant light helps determine the fit of the pendant with the rest of the room’s style.
Bowl Pendant Lights - Bowl pendant lights offer a traditional look to a space. They feature a curved shade, typically suspended from a framework or industrial support arms. The bowl-shaped shade provides a soft diffusion of light, often with a warm color tone that makes a space seem cozy.
Globe Pendant Lights - Introduce a modern look to a space by suspending a globe pendant light. This style of fixture boasts an orb shape surrounding an inner arrangement of bulbs. The round lamp can feature wide, open areas that allow the light to shine straight through with or without diffusion, allowing for maximum brightness. They make a bold statement in a foyer, as the centerpiece of a home office, or as an eye-catching lighting fixture over a round dining table.
Drum Pendant Lights - Like globe pendant lights, drum lights are a popular choice for hanging above dining tables and in entryways. They feature a round, drum-shaped shade that surrounds lights, diffusing the output for a soft effect. Their sleek, tailored look gives them a timeless sophistication for use in elegant spaces.
Linear Pendants - Linear pendant lights are long and narrow, usually mounted to cast light directly down on a space below. They draw attention along the narrow lines and help add to the height of the room, giving a visual illusion of extra space. Their shape makes them a great choice for creating a square or circular arrangement at varying heights.
Multi-Light Pendants - The style is often found as a starburst, or rounded, cascading design, with light bulbs that cap off a number of different support arms. They are a great choice for use in foyers and over dining tables because they provide a custom look with ample light output.
Choosing a Finish
The finish of the pendant light should coordinate with the overall design theme of the room. Each color family can come in a variety of different tones and shades. Once you pick one of the metallic finishes below, determine if a matte, polished, brushed, oil-rubbed, or patina finish makes the best choice for the fixture.
Choose a finish that either matches or coordinates well with the existing metal elements in the space, from cupboard door handles, to appliance colors and trims. They don’t have to be the exact same, but their tone and shine should complement each other. For more on mixing metal finishes in a space, check out this useful article here.
Dimmable Design - Choosing a pendant light with multiple lighting settings or a dimmable design makes it easy to adjust the light output at various times of the day. Use them at full power to make a space seem bright and promote productivity. When hosting a dinner party, dim the light to provide a relaxing ambiance. Evaluate the ways the room is used to determine if a dimmable pendant light makes the best choice.
Energy Efficiency - Making an entire home more energy efficient is an important factor in the overall design. If lowering the carbon footprint of the home, as well as the electric bill, is important, narrow your search to an LED pendant light fixture.
Shade Material - The placement of the pendant light is important when it comes to bulb changes and cleaning. When installing a pendant light that is high and out of the way, make sure to consider the shade material. Fabric shades and openwork metal shades tend to collect more dust than glass shades.
Lumen Output - The lumens give you an idea of how much light output a fixture provides to a space. If only a little light is needed, a pendant light with a lower lumen output is fine. If a room is especially dark and needs maximum brightness, look for a pendant fixture with a higher lumen output.
Installing Pendant Lighting
The last consideration for finding the perfect pendant light is the installation requirements. Some installation types will require different kinds of accessories at the time of purchase, so it’s important to pay attention to what the existing setup in your home will allow or plan out any necessary changes.
Canopy pendants install directly into the ceiling. They can be plugged into an existing ceiling light junction box and are independently mounted in the ceiling. These are generally ready to go, out of the box, via standard electrical connections.
Track pendants require an installed track to mount into. The pendants snap into place on the track and line up to the connectors to supply the electricity to the lamp. Track pendants can then be adjusted anywhere along the length of the track, allowing more design and layout flexibility to your lighting system.
It’s important to note that track pendants cannot be installed directly into the ceiling. The track provides the power to the pendant via a converted power source in the ceiling junction. If you already have track lighting installed, the light should come from the same company as the track to ensure the wattage of the pendants is compatible with the volts provided through the track.
Carefully measure your space to get the ideal pendant placement the first time. Here are some guidelines to help plan your design.
- Before you hang your pendants, use a paper or cardboard cut-out to mock up the shape and height of the light. This will help you get a visual of what the end result will look like, without having to install the wiring more than once.
- When lining up multiple mini or medium pendant lights, the distance between the center point of each should be balanced across the width of the desk, island, or table below.
- For an odd number of lights, mark the center point first to hang the light. The remaining lights should be set at even, consistent intervals between the edge of the object below the lights and the center point.
- Adjust the height of the fixture to sit between 30 and 40 inches above a dining table, kitchen counter, or kitchen island. The higher the light, the softer it will be and the wider the light will spread out, covering a larger area.
- When installing a pendant light over a billiards or poker table, lower the light to 32 to 36 inches above the table. This allows for maximum visibility on game night.
Pendant Lighting for Every Space
Narrowing down your search by a couple of key factors, such as size, shape, finish, and lighting type will make it easy to select the best pendant lighting for any room. Choose to display a single pendant light or create a more artistic arrangement by lining them up in multiples or hanging them in a circular arrangement at varying heights. With the right pendant lighting in place, every room will have individual character, and the illumination needed to prep a meal in the kitchen, sit and dine with family, or enter a bright and inviting space.