In every discussion concerning dining room chandeliers, the primary question is, “what is the appropriate size?” Although we all like to quantify our design decisions, it is very unlikely that we can only use numbers to determine the ultimate choice. So many factors come into play. How tall is the ceiling? How visually large are the table and chairs over which the chandelier will hang? Is there important artwork on an adjacent wall, which needs to be viewed through the chandelier? Just how much light is required to illuminate the room?
Let’s address these questions and perhaps help to determine the correct design and proportions for selecting your dining room chandeliers.
Dining Room Ceiling Height and Proportions
Ceiling height is one of the most important elements in determining the correct size. Usually, the taller the ceiling the larger the chandelier required. All dining room chandeliers should be hung low over the table. It is your natural focal point therefore needs to be an integral part of the furnishings. With tall ceilings, 10′ or higher, one must take into consideration the negative space resulting from the high ceiling and choose a larger fixture in scale. The shape of the chandelier can be either horizontal in nature or vertical, but one can see how a larger vertical chandelier might fill the space a bit better. In any event, never go under scale, regardless of the shape, especially with a tall ceiling.
An 8′ to 9′ ceiling can use a smaller scale chandelier but must be based on the visual weight of the furniture beneath it. A heavy table with fully upholstered chairs requires a denser chandelier with greater visual weight. A lighter style table and chairs can use a more delicate chandelier, even if the frame is quite large. In any case, try not to go under scale here as well. Make an effort to buy as large a fixture as you are comfortable with to avoid the feeling that the chandelier lacks significance.
And by all means hang the chandelier low over the table. Start with the lowest part of the chandelier at 30″ (this is typically the ball.) Move up inch by inch until you see the right level has been achieved. Remember that the chandelier is part of the visual whole which includes the table and chairs. A predominately horizontal chandelier will hang a bit higher than a vertical, simply because the bulk of the chandelier is lower on the frame. While a vertical style has the bulk of the chandelier rising well above the ball, hanging lower over the table.
Dining Room Chandeliers and Density
We again have to address the quest to quantify the size of the chandelier. Most importantly, the density plays a big role in the visual weight of the fixture. If you are looking for a 26″ diameter chandelier, that quantifying measure will change based on the density of the crystal and frame material. A thick chandelier frame dressed with loads of crystal will look larger than a sparsely dressed, thin-framed chandelier and yet measure the same diameter.
A beautiful chandelier will enhance important art on display in the dining room. The style choice would lend itself to the delicate frame with lovely crystal drops used sparingly. Art viewed through a striking chandelier is always enhanced.
There is no doubt that we all look better in natural incandescent light, delivered horizontally. Overhead canned lights do nothing for our appearance, and in fact can make us look older as they intensify shadows when aimed from above. The light that flows from a well-placed chandelier is soft and inviting, especially when the light intensity can be controlled by a dimmer. It follows that canned lighting in a dining room should be avoided if possible. If not, aim the can bulbs toward the walls, bathing the walls with light will soften the light and actually make the room appear larger.
As few as six arms on a chandelier will give appropriate light for a dining room. Each socket should take up to a 60 watt bulb, but of course it would be much more prudent to use 40 watts on a dimmer. There would be a total of 240 watts of illumination when used at full power, plenty to enable your guests to enjoy your dinner party. Save the overhead cans for tax time when you need to spread out a year’s worth of paperwork.