Sometimes is it better to not follow the norm and to hang your dining room chandelier a little bit higher

a dining room for entertaining lots of friends

In his Room to Improve chronicle Tim McKeough of The New York Times tries to answer the question How high over my dining table should I hang the light fixture? 

The usual answer in North America is that the end of the pendant should be 30 inches higher than the table top. But I find that that the suspended fixture is too low, especially if you host a lot of dinner parties.

Europeans seems to agree with my taste. At lunch, I was reading one of my favorite French home decor magazines. I share with you these fabulous dining rooms. These pictures, taken from Residences decoration magazine, tell the whole story. So I cannot resist sharing with you my interior design sensibility.

My chandelier proudly sits at 40 inches. I count in the final tiny decorative end piece. In fact, anything up to 42 inches is fine. I am lucky to have 11 foot ceiling. But the height of my ceiling does not explain why I hung my chandelier higher that the norm? The entire space and the desired ambiance were the key factors that let me determine the best height for the light fixture.

dining room lighting        How to install a dining room light fixture

Putting the chandelier higher than the standardized 30 inches gives you more freedom when you dress up your table for a dinner party. When you sit at the table, the space feels more airy. Finally, your table looks its best when you have a gap of 12 to 15 inches between the higher element on your centerpieces and the light fixture.

modern dining roomA dimmer switch makes it simple to play with the light intensity and to create the right mood instantly. But reject any impulse to go higher than 42 inches because you will not be able to create a nice glow on your table, even with a dimmer.

Finally, I show you a modern, more casual dining room where the light fixture is installed at the 30 inches mark. You can see that you feel more enclosed when you sit at the table. For that apartment, the standard works wonderfully. Like I said before, it depends on the mood you wish to create. Form and function dictate how high to install your light fixture.

Link: Room to Improve : How high over my dining table should I hang the light fixture? on The New York Times
Via: House & Home Roundup: 04.05.07 on Apartment Therapy NYC blog

  • AbbeyK
    April 16, 2007 at 18:30

    Great Blog. very stylish. Airy and pretty. I’ve enjoyed reading it.

    It’s a question I get asked all the time as an interior designer. I must say, there’s no rule in the US about how high to hang a chandelier. I usually start at 36″ above the table as a starting point, but it depends on the size of the table and the ceiling height. Eye level works sometimes, and sometimes it just seems way too low.

    Sometimes, I make a card board cut out of the piece and hang it from a string to see what looks good.

    I am glad that you hung your piece higher with an 11 foot ceiling. (That sounds divine!)

    I have been doing a lot of drum pendants hung closer to the ceiling.

    Another reason not to hang the chandelier just above the table: if you move your table for large parties and serve buffet style, no one can walk beneath the chandelier.


  • At Home with kim vallee
    April 18, 2007 at 12:26

    Thank you Abbey for sharing your insights. People should try your card board trick.

    I did plan to write about the fact that people should be able to walk beneath the chandelier if you want to move your table for a party, but I forgot to say it. Nice of you to point it out. This is especially important if you live in a small space where buffet and cocktail dinners are the norm.

  • Evolution - World
    August 10, 2008 at 01:12

    I totally agree with abey coz, when you have to remove the table for a big party then a low higth chandelier will cause you lots of problem. BUT wait, in a big party you can use your table as a bar and put some drinks and beverages then it may looks even graceful 😉 well, it depends what kind of party you’re gonna held.