Pendants lights have been used forever in European homes, but when it comes to America most pendant lights have been almost exclusively used hanging over bars and in kitchen lighting. But that’s quickly changing.
Americans now are learning about the versatility of the pendant lights and how they shouldn’t relegate them solely to hanging over bars or used to light kitchen & dining room tables. The pendant light may just be the most versatile light you can install in your home. That’s because these light fixtures allow you to create a warm and inviting atmosphere anywhere in your come. And modern pendant lamps come in all types of colors, shapes, sizes and materials. So, when it comes to your homes lighting you really should start nixing some of those old and ugly “pancake” style flush mount light fixtures in your home and consider pendant lighting instead.
And since we know you’re going to take this advice and add a dash of style to your home with pendant lamps; here are the 5 things to consider when adding pendant lights to your space that will help you make the right decision on what’s best for your home.
One | Understand there are Many Different Styles and Types of Pendant Lights
What’s your style type: Modern Farmhouse; Industrial; Mid-Century Modern; Shabby Chic; Boho; Retro? Whatever your interior design and lighting style preference is these days there is a pendant light that will work for you.
Don’t settle for the basic vanilla light you’re going to find at Lowes, Home Depot or Ikea. (Well, unless you like mass produced lighting that isn’t unique nor that high of quality.) Instead take the time to search and find the right unique piece that’s going to make your home and space actually “YOUR unique home and space”.
Note only are there tons of different styled pendant lights, there are actually lots physical differences in pendant lights as well.
Not all pendant lights are like the typical skinny black rubber wire that drops down to a small glass lampshade that you see as a hanging light over every kitchen bar from a house that was built circa 2000. These days pendant lights come in all types of shapes and sizes. Here are just a few different versions to look for:
- Multiple Swag Style – These can have anywhere from two to 15 (or even more) individual pendants dropping down from a central ceiling canopy. Normally multi swag chandelier style pendant lights are hung in large areas with the individual pendants pulled to different locations and held in place with a swag hook.
- Long drop pendant lights – This is more of the traditional style pendant light where you have one canopy with a single hole dropping a single pendant down. You’ve likely seen this style the most.
- Expanding Pendant – This type will start with one single drop, usually made from a metal copper or brass tube, that leads to a central point where multiple light sources expand off of it.
- Shaded Pendant Lights – Here you have pendants where the focus is on the shade. While it used to be that the shades for pendant lights were primarily either a) small conical glass b) round glass or c) metal hoods, these days there are many more options for you to choose from. (We tend to be partial to our handmade Foldi Shades.)
- Exposed Bulb Pendants – If you’re looking for simple, yet no so simple, statement lights consider a modern exposed bulb. These days, bulbs such as the Bulb Statement brand of bulbs offer amazing and stylish large bulbs that really carry a “wow” factor.
Two | What Do You Need the Light For?
We ask our customers this question all the time because it’s essential to understanding what type of pendant light to recommend. Will you be needing this pendant to illuminate a work surface where “good light” is essential? Or is there already task lighting present and you are looking to add something that enhances the rooms feel and vibe?
Pendant lights can help both with task lighting and with ambient lighting. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. (Note, a lot depends on the bulb that you use with your light, but that’s a separate post.)
If you are looking for your pendant to be used more as task lighting then you’ll probably want one that works with a lampshade that directs the light downward and hides the bright bulb inside. Or you may need a glass shade so that the light is directed everywhere evenly.
For ambient lighting, aka “mood lighting” you’re generally going for a pendant that will work with some type of beautiful light shade. This more like our round pendant light shades. With the round Foldi Shades you’re definitely going to get more mood lighting than task lighting.
Three | Consider Your Ceiling Height
Pendant lights drop down from the ceiling, that’s a fact. So you need to be aware of how tall your ceiling is and where people will be walking, sitting, hanging out, and etc., and etc.
In general, if you are hanging a pendant light in a location where someone will be walking under it you will want there to be at least 6’ 8” below where the bottom part of your pendant (including the light shade) hangs. Anything shorter than this runs the risk of making people feel as if they may hit it, especially if you or your guests are on the taller side.
For a pendant that is hanging above a bar think about “line of vision” you usually don’t want the pendant be in the way of a conversation if someone is standing on each side of the bar. Our rule of thumb with this is to make it so that the “averagely tall” person can easily see someone on the other side of the kitchen without having his view blocked. What this means is that we recommend you have at least six feet between where your floor would be (if you didn’t have a bar there) and the bottom of the pendant light shade or exposed bulb.
If you’re using a pendant light over a kitchen table there is no real “standard”. But again, you don’t want it to get in the way of someone sitting across the table from you. And you also want to make sure you consider that it is high enough from the table so that the light is diffused well for everyone.
If you have a very high ceiling or very high entry way area consider hanging your pendant so that it is roughly 5 to 7 feet above your door threshold. And place it at least 7 to 10 feet away from the door so that it is seen well when entering.
Four | Where Do You Need Light?
Location is also vital. You not only need light, you need it located in the right spot.
For mood lighting you may want it a corner or in specific location to cast just the right shade and complete your interior design look. And for task lighting you may need the light to help you read and work at a desk. One thing is for sure though, no matter where you need it Murphy’s Law states that you probably won’t have a junction box anywhere near that area.
This is where swag style pendant lights both literally and figuratively “shine”. With a swag light the cable is long enough that you can attach the canopy to wherever your (poorly) located junction box is. All you have to do then is just swag the light over to where you need it by attaching a hook to the ceiling right above that space and then hooking the cable so that the pendant and lamp shade can just drop down right where you need it. (Hint, we have amazing swag hooks that allow you to do this right here 😉
If you plan on doing this be sure that your swag light is long enough to account for these three things: the lateral distance from the ceiling canopy to where you place the hook; how much “swag” you want in the cable between these two points; and how far you want the pendant to drop down from the hook.
Five | Choose the Right Size Pendant Light Shades
You want to create a great balance between your space and the type of shade you’re going to hang from your pendant light. Getting the size of the shade wrong can completely throw off the harmony in your room.
If you have a small space look to go with either one light with a medium sized shade or a couple of pendants with smaller shades.
For medium to large to spaces you can, of course, have bigger shades. But this is when you want to consider clustering multiple pendants closely together to create a dynamic look. And when you do this mix and match sizes that are large, small and of slightly different shapes. You don’t want a completely random grouping of light shades but having some variety in either/or the sizes and shapes can really pull a room together.
Conclusion – The final note on how to choose a pendant light
I hope this has helped you some with understanding things to look for when choosing the best ceiling pendant light for your room. Now get out there and take down that old and ugly flush mounted ceiling light that looks like it should be hanging in your grandmother’s house 30 years ago and start creating your own style. And get away from “Lowes pendant lights” or “Home Depot pendant lights” and create your own unique style!
And while we (unfortunately) can’t say that our round and dome pendant light shades are the perfect shade your every single person in every single situation, they are pretty awesome and work in a TON of spaces. So be sure to check out all our ethically crafted and handmade lighting here at FoldiShades.com