The complete design guide to determine the chandelier height above a table. You’ll learn the simple, mathematical formula, plus the design aesthetics to take into consideration to create a beautiful look.
One question that I hear a lot is what is the right height to hang a chandelier. Well, the answer depends on where you’re hanging it! The height for a chandelier in an entryway or two-story foyer is quite different from the height in a dining area! So today I’m going to focus specifically on the right height to hang a chandelier above a table.
The Roles of a Chandelier
A dining chandelier (meaning one that hangs above a table) really has two main functions. The first is to provide light for the table and the second is to act as a design feature in the room. So it’s not just about choosing the right chandelier, it’s about hanging it right, too! Both functions are affected by the hanging height of the chandelier, so the height at which you hang your chandelier becomes an important design decision!
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There’s nothing like the panic of having the electrician (or maybe that’s you!) at your home, up on a ladder, asking what height you want the chandelier to hang and then realizing that you have no idea! So let me save you from that awkward moment and prepare you with an answer.
Why Does the Chandelier Height Matter
The height of your chandelier above the table matters for a few reasons. If it’s too low, you run the risk of bumping your head when you get up from the table. It also can make the light too harsh or, depending on your bulb wattage, create too much heat when sitting!
But if the chandelier is too high, it can feel disconnected from the table and seem like it’s just hovering or floating in the room.
So what we need is the Goldilocks of chandelier height – just right. A chandelier hung correctly over the table creates an intimate ambiance that is proportioned correctly for the table and the ceiling height, while creating the right amount of light for a seated meal.
Standard Height of a Chandelier Above a Table
Thankfully, through years of trial and error, there is an easy answer to this age-old question. The general rule-of-thumb is that the bottom of the light fixture should hang between 30″-36″ above a table. This measurement is for standard 8-foot ceilings, but below I’ll explain how to adjust if your ceiling height is taller.
How to Assess the Right Height of a Chandelier Above a Table
Once you know what height you want based on the mathematical formulas, it’s time to take aesthetics into account. Yes, determining the height of a chandelier above a table is about more than just math.
Once you think you know the height, look at the chandelier:
- When seated at the table
- When standing in the room
- From other rooms from which the chandelier can be seen
Does the Size of the Chandelier Affect the Height? What About Style?
Be sure to take into account the visual weight of the chandelier. Two chandeliers might have the same physical dimensions, but if one is more elaborate, such as covered in crystals, it might take up more visual weight. In this case, you might opt for it to hang a bit higher.
Similarly, a small chandelier might need to be hung lower, whereas a large chandelier can be hung a couple of inches higher.
Should Table Decor Affect Height?
No one will tell you this but the answer is yes! Within the 30″-36″ range, you need to take into account the size of your fixture and how it looks in the room. You’ll also need to account for how much light it casts. Less light? Maybe you hang it closer to 30″ to ensure adequate illumination on the table. Tons of light? Well, 36″ should still give you proper lighting.
But what about table decor? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that if you tend to like really tall table decor, consider hanging your light closer to the 36″ mark. A tall vase of branches as a centerpiece will come too close to a chandelier whose base is hanging at 30″! So in addition to the size of your chandelier, the overall look in the room, and the ceiling height, think about how you style your table for everyday use.
Adjusting for Ceiling Height
Whether to adjust for ceiling height is debatable. Since the function of a chandelier is to provide light for the table, does it make sense to raise the chandelier just because the ceiling is higher than 8 feet? The simple answer is yes, adjust for the height of your ceilings. This is because the other function of a chandelier is as a design feature. In general, for every additional foot of ceiling height above 8′, add 3″ to the height your chandelier should hang above the table.
For example, if with an 8-foot ceiling you were going to hang your chandelier at 30″ above the table. For a 9-foot ceiling you might choose 33″ and a 10-foot ceiling your height would start at 36″.
Raising the height of the chandelier above the table with a taller ceiling helps keep the chandelier in proportion with the room. You’ll also need to take into account the visual weight and type of chandelier. An elaborate chandelier can hang higher and still feel grounded. Conversely, minimalist chandeliers that are hung higher might look overpowered if hung higher.
Regardless, no matter how tall your ceiling is, ensure that it is hung to provide adequate light and feel “connected” to the table.
How Far Should a Chandelier Hang from the Ceiling
This is a common, but misguided question. If you’ve read down this far, then you’ll know that the right height to hang a dining area chandelier isn’t about the distance from the ceiling, but the distance above the table.
While the height of the ceiling does affect the hanging height, the measurements should always be based on the distance between the top of the table and the lowest point of the chandelier.
Where to Hang the Chandelier if the Table Isn’t Centered
There are instances where the dining table isn’t centered in the dining room. So in these cases, should you center the chandelier to the room or to the table? The answer is always center the chandelier on the table!
In some cases, the junction box has already been installed in the center of the room. Moving a junction box requires an electrician, replacing and patching the sheetrock, and painting the ceiling. So if moving the box isn’t an option, there’s a simple solution. Simply use a hook above the dining table and swag the chain from the junction box to the hook so that the chandelier hangs centered above the table. This of course means that you need a chandelier that hangs from a chain, not a fixed stem.
Photo by Robeson Design – Look for kitchen design inspiration
If there’s a joist above your table, you can simply use a hook with a weight rating to support your chandelier and chain. If there’s not a joist, you can use a toggle bolt to hold the chain and chandelier.
Additional Tips & Tidbits
- If your ceiling is slanted, ensure you choose a chandelier compatible with a slanted ceiling, as not all chandeliers are.
- Cord covers are available that can decoratively cover the chain if you don’t like the look of the chain.
- Regardless of the hanging height, if you chandelier is the wrong size for your space, it won’t look right. So be sure to select the right size chandelier for your room!
As a general guidelines, start at 30″-36″ above the table and then adjust for ceiling height, diameter of the chandelier and style of chandelier.
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