Decorating With Chandeliers: The Essential Dos and Don’ts

You’ve almost designed the ideal setting. You’ve found all the right furniture and picked a stunning color scheme. You even came up with an iconic theme that highlights the coolest features of your home or commercial space. The only problem? You’re still not sure what to do with your centerpiece: the chandelier. As you browse online lighting catalogs, there are limitless options as far as style (you can find a large selection here, here, and here).

Chandeliers create marvelous aesthetic statements, but they can also challenge even the most skilled designers. Thanks to their self-evident visual appeal and marked stylistic features, it’s not always easy to make them mesh with their surroundings. Every decorator should consider these tips.

The Don’ts
Although you have room for creative flexibility, there some clear no-nos.

Don’t Try to Do It All With One Chandelier
Building a design around a lone chandelier centerpiece can quickly go wrong. Many small rooms lack sufficient vertical and horizontal clearance for larger fixtures, so you’ll want to downsize. If you limit yourself to one chandelier in a massive area, then it will start to look dwarfed by the surrounding emptiness. Use smaller fixtures in pairs or triplets to get more mileage out of your decor.

Don’t Try to Mount With Regular Fittings
Installing a chandelier takes more than just unscrewing your current globe or flush mount and replacing it with something classier looking. Normal ceiling mounts and electrical boxes can’t handle the weight of larger, ornate chandeliers. Be certain to install yours safely by sticking to existing joists or adding braces.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Clean
Never install a chandelier unless you’re willing to keep it looking good. For instance, if it’s in a kitchen, then you should favor minimal features. That way, you won’t have to spend hours on chores.

Don’t Get Too Close to Water
Chandeliers should never hang right next to bathing areas. A good rule of thumb is that you need at least 8 feet of vertical clearance and 3 feet of lateral clearance separating chandeliers from tubs or showers.

If your chandelier isn’t moisture- or wet-rated, then it shouldn’t even be in the same room with tubs or showers. Go with a fancy sconce or dome unless you can find an appropriately sealed hanging fixture.

Don’t Use a Plug-in Option
Thinking about making your life simpler by installing a plug-in chandelier? Think again, because using them is a building code violation in most U.S. jurisdictions. They can pose serious hazards.

The Dos
Picking the ideal chandelier is up to you, but these universal guidelines are worth considering.

Do Maintain Ample Clearance
Chandeliers need at least 7 feet of clearance from the floor and 4 feet of clearance from nearby walls. This makes your spaces more accommodating to taller people. Of course, even if you’re not friends with any giants, sticking to this principle is a good way to avoid tragic collisions and maintain a healthy sense of free space if you suddenly feel the urge to rearrange the floor plan.

Do Take Detailed Measurements Beforehand
Don’t just eyeball your chandelier’s size. Instead, measure your room’s length and width in feet. Add these numbers together, and you’ll have the maximum diameter of an ideal chandelier in inches. For instance, a 10-foot by 20-foot room should sport a 30-inch chandelier.

When designing spaces like dining rooms, consider the sizes of major furniture items. For instance, it looks quite attractive to keep your chandelier’s width around 1 foot smaller than that of the dining room table below. You’ll also want to maintain about 1 to 3 feet of space between hanging fixtures and table surfaces.

Do Think About Color
Chandeliers are great for reinforcing existing color schemes. They’re anything but passive pieces of visual decor, however.

Even if you favor materials like crystal, you can express yourself with functional style elements, such as metals, organic construction and tinted semitransparent glass. Instead of treating your chandelier like a completely blank slate, realize that it will impart its own unique hue and personality to its surroundings. Pick something that matches your design passions, and remember that it might catch and reflect light from other sources, such as windows.

Do Customize Your Chandelier
Chandeliers evoke a definite mood. This doesn’t mean you have to settle for whatever some random lighting designer wants your rooms to look like, however.

Feel free to use your preferred LED bulbs, dimmers and other add-on features to make your arrangement more personal. Installing multiple smaller chandeliers is also a fun way to build a completely fresh, dynamic scheme.

Putting It All Together
A chandelier can add permanent class to any space. In addition to following the previous dos and don’ts, it’s important to find a supplier that lets you explore hundreds of styles freely.