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Guides & How-Tos > Lighting Guides And How-Tos > Chandelier Buying Guide

Chandelier Buying Guide
Chandelier Buying Guide

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We often think of chandeliers with a sense of the grandiose, but they’re really more approachable than that. Put them in the bathroom, the laundry room or even in the nursery. They are like pieces of jewelry for your home that reflect your personal style. Take a closer look, and you might find that a chandelier is the easiest way to transform your home’s overall design.

But before you select a chandelier, there are a few things you should take into consideration:
  • Purpose - amount of light output required
  • Scale - size needed based on your room's dimensions
  • Height - how high to hang based on size of room and chandelier placement
  • Finish - type of finish that will compliment your space
  • Style - do you have a particular style in mind?
  • Care - how easy is installation? What about long-term care and cleaning?
Knowing what you need from lighting is the key to long-term happiness. If you want light for crafting or to study, ambient lighting isn’t your best option. But if you want general lighting and an ambient light source and a beautiful focal point, then a chandelier is right for you. Ambient lighting, also known as general lighting, dispels light from an indirect light source in a uniform manner. This is different from directional, task, or positional lighting. In some instances, such as a laundry room, it may be the main source of lighting, but it is not considered a task light. Ambient lighting will fill a room with light but will most likely need to be paired or layered with other light sources for optimum room lighting.

A chandelier is also considered decorative lighting. It adds elegance and glamour to your surroundings. You’d add a fixture like this to make an eye-catching statement in the space.


Tip: A dimmer makes a chandelier dynamic and adaptable for every occasion. Whether your fixture is ornate and multi-armed or simple with a large-scale bowl, chandeliers with a dimmer provide the homeowner control over the intensity of light. “Most of the time, the lighting capability of a chandelier is more than is actually necessary to light the space,” says Joe Rey-Barreua, educational consultant for the American Lighting Association (ALA) and assistant professor of interior design at the University of Kentucky. “They should always be controlled by a dimmer to add to the aesthetic appeal.” Always use a dimmer on dining room lights. “Light becomes warmer as it is dimmed,” says Dan Blitzer, American Lighting Association Continuing Educator.

P.S. you will need to verify that your fixture, light bulb and dimmer are all compatible. There are many types of dimmers dimmers so be sure to select the correct one!


How to Choose a Chandelier Size

If you don’t get the right size chandelier, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the chandelier itself looks. You want the chandelier to wow your guests, not overwhelm them. You also don’t want to spend your cash on a fixture that looks meager in its surroundings.

“Placing a chandelier that is too small in a space is likely the biggest mistake because it’s very noticeable,” says Joe Rey-Barreau. “Great designers, therefore, tend to make their decisions on fixtures that may appear slightly larger than might be appropriate. It’s generally always best to make the mistake on a fixture being too big than too small.”

Over the years, experts have come up with various tips and tricks to make sure your chandelier fits, both in size and the scope of its illumination.




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How to Measure the Room for Your Chandelier

To determine what size chandelier you need for your room, all you need is the room’s length and width.

If a room is 10×16 ft just add those two numbers together. So you have 26 feet. Use that number, for example 26, as your metric, but instead of feet, use inches. For our example you would look for a chandelier with a width of 26 inches.

To get a faster size estimate, measure the room the fixture will be in diagonally. Whatever that measures in feet, just use that number, but in inches for fixture width. For example, a room with a 20-foot diagonal measurement would look best with a fixture at least 20 inches in width.

The Highs and Lows of It

To determine height, you need to remember that the bottom of the fixture (if you will be walking under it) should be at least 7 feet or higher above the floor. Depending on your ceiling, you may need to use a flush or semi-flush fixture. If you have a higher ceiling, of course a larger fixture is required.


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How to Size a Chandelier Over a Dining Table

Your dining room will come to life when you have the properly sized chandelier for it – not too big and not too small.

Use your dining room table as a guide. To size the chandelier for the table size, simply take the width of the table and subtract 12 inches. For example, if a table width is 42 inches, subtract 12 inches and the chandelier should be 30 inches in width.

Also note, the bottom of a chandelier should be no lower than 30-36 inches above the tabletop; this gives your guests opportunity to see each other across the table without the fixture obstructing their view.

As for table shape, there’s no hard and fast rule. It’s based on your style and design preference. But if you have an oblong table, you may want to go with an oblong fixture or at least one that is longer than it is wide. Another option could be to hang an uneven number of pendants or mini chandeliers for a contemporary take.


Light Bulbs for Chandeliers

As with most other sources of lighting, chandeliers offer the option of energy efficiency and bulb variations.

Incandescent Halogen: Incandescent halogen light bulbs are the latest version of the old incandescent bulb. They are about 30 percent more energy-efficient and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Incandescent halogen bulbs work well with dimmers and other lighting controls.

CFLs: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are a smaller (and curlier) version of long tube fluorescent lights. This type of light bulb is three to four times more efficient and can last six to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

LED: The light emitting diode (LED) is the most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technology today. This type of light bulb is more than five times more energy-efficient and can last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Keep in mind that not all chandeliers are compatible with all bulbs, so double check the manufacturer’s specifications.



Most Popular Chandelier Styles

Chandeliers come in a variety of looks to fit your decor or your particular taste. Click any style below to shop our styled assortment or read on to learn more about each style.





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Crystal Chandeliers

This is historically one of the most common styles. Made from a variety of crystal types, they range in different grades including hand-cut, hand-polished, machine-cut or machine polished. A crystal style chandelier can be placed on a multitude of frames sizes and shapes in a variety of materials, but all share one common denominator – crystal pieces. No matter the type of metal, wood or fabric used, the crystal style dazzles.

Rustic Chandeliers

Elements from nature are evident a rustic chandelier. The materials used consist of wood, iron and even antlers on occasion. A weightier piece will fit well in an over-sized room with vaulted ceilings. Think big!

Contemporary and Modern Chandeliers

Any new style created after 1930 is considered contemporary and covers anything from that date until today. Look for the absence of ornateness in lieu of simple lines and single tone finishes – especially chrome or a satin nickel. An overall light feel in the construction will point you in the right direction.


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Traditional Chandeliers

Focus on an ornate look and influences of Neoclassicism. Consider the classic structures of the ancient Greek and Roman structures of the 1750s to the early 19th century that are highly decorative yet refined. A traditional fixture will portray elegance with gentle curves combined with straight lines.

Transitional Chandeliers

Bronze finishes are more commonly found in transitional fixtures, which combine design elements from both traditional and contemporary styles. It is meant to convey comfort, foregoing the fussiness found in a classic styled chandelier and the harshness found in the straight lines of contemporary.

Industrial Chandeliers

Cage lights, reclaimed wood, pipe fittings and iron facings are hallmarks of industrial lighting, including chandeliers. These chandeliers are functional but visually interesting. They’re minimalist and utilitarian.”



Chandelier Care and Maintenance

So you finally pulled the trigger and bought that chandelier. There are many great days ahead. One of the best things about chandeliers is that they can look better as they age. Depending on the type of metal your chandelier is constructed of, it may tarnish. Tarnish is a good thing when it comes to chandeliers. It adds character and beauty that can only come with age.

Tip: Before you begin be sure to check the care instructions for your specific fixture. Do not use household cleaning products as they may damage the finish.

Cleaning

This is easier than you may think at first. Before you get started, you will most likely need a ladder/step stool, a drop cloth (a blanket will work fine) to protect any pieces of your chandelier if they fall to the floor, a vacuum cleaner for drum shades, and a pair of white, lint free gloves. Make sure you shut off the power to the fixture before you begin.

To clean crystals on a chandelier, use your cotton gloves (this will also protect from fingerprints) and wipe the dust off without the aid of glass cleaner, water, vinegar, or alcohol if possible. If you have stubborn stains that elbow grease won’t remove, prepare a cleaning solution that is one part isopropyl alcohol to four parts distilled water in a spray bottle. Put a small amount on your glove and use on the crystal element only (be sure not to use this mixture on the metal portion of your chandelier). Dry it immediately with a different dry glove. Avoid liquid if possible as they leave water marks and are a magnet for dust. In between deep cleanings, dust your chandelier every two to three months with a feather or lambs wool duster.

For metal or drum chandeliers, use a clean dry rag or duster. A vacuum with a hose may also be needed to easily clean off dust and spider webs.


Expert Tips

  • If you are hiring an electrician to install your chandelier, which we highly recommend, save money by unpacking and assembling your chandelier before the electrician arrives. This will save you, depending on the amount of pieces to attach, at a minimum, one billable hour from your electrician.
  • Don’t buy a chandelier larger than the width of your table or people will bump into it when getting up (refer to our table sizing)
  • Always consider the weight of a chandelier. Chandeliers weighing more than 50 lbs. need to be secured to the house structure, per criteria of the National Electrical Code.
  • For vaulted ceilings, if you don’t want to use an extremely tall ladder or scaffolding to change bulbs, use LED and avoid changing bulbs every year.
  • Height or (clearance) issues? Instead of a chandelier, use a flush mount, semi-flush mount or recessed fixture. If you have a small room dimension, a mini chandelier would be the best solution.
  • Consider adding decorative medallions to add another layer of style to your space.
  • If you have a great view, pick a chandelier with clean lines that won’t distract from your focal point.







 














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