Your Complete Guide to Pendant Lights
When it comes to style, sophistication and versatility, pendant lights tick all the boxes. As an easy and affordable way to bring new life (and new levels of illumination) to a room, pendant lighting is a timeless choice that never goes out of vogue. However, with so many options comes a lot of questions — what types of pendant lights are out there, where is the best place to put them, how do you install them? Fear not — we’re here to give you the ultimate guide to pendant lighting so you can move forward and decorate fearlessly.
What is a pendant light?
Let’s start from the top by explaining what a pendant light actually is. The name ‘pendant light’ draws parallels to the pendant on a necklace, and it’s not hard to see why — a pendant light is a type of light fixture typically mounted to the ceiling and suspended using a chain, rod or wire. Pendant lighting is far from just a hanging bulb and a lampshade — there are plenty of variations on the theme. You can get single or multiple lights, large or small, colourful or neutral tones, even vintage or modern styles. There is bound to be a pendant light out there to suit your tastes and needs.
Choosing the right pendant lights
Much like any other home decor decision, finding the right pendant lights for your space can be quite the journey! As much as playing with themes and aesthetics is fun, there are some less glamorous but equally important decisions you need to factor in to find the right lights for your situation. We’ll talk you through it.
How much lighting do you need?
Are your pendant lights going to be the main source of illumination, a sheer statement piece or something to pop on to set a specific mood? If the room you’re decorating has other light sources, such as downlights or spotlights, you can be as cavalier as you’d like with the brightness of your pendant light. However, if a room is relying on that pendant lighting, you need to take that into account, as some pendant lights are brighter than others.
Pendant light placement tips
Because they are so highly visible, the placement of your pendant lights is crucial. If you go too low, too high or just don’t pick the right spot in the room, it can throw off your whole decorating scheme. There are some failsafe locations where a pendant light will always look its best — hanging above an island bench or a dining table are two classic examples. Feel free to experiment and go outside of the box — you might be surprised to learn that a pendant light can look great hanging above a bed or make the centre of your living room pop.
Getting the specific placement of your pendant light correct is crucial. The last thing you want is to be bumping into it because it’s hung too low, or getting annoyed because it’s obscuring your view of the TV. Being mindful of these everyday flow issues should inform your sizing, styling and shape-related decisions regarding your pendant light.
Getting the right look
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for — aesthetics! Pendant lights are known to make a statement, which affords you a lot of creative freedom, but there are still some questions to consider when choosing the look of your lights. Do an audit of the room you are decorating — think about existing colours, themes, styles, and any other pieces that might compete with statement lighting. That being said, sometimes a good clash can look fantastic — just stay true to your personal taste.
The practical stuff
The shape and size of your pendant light will help determine the role they play in your room. Something smaller probably won’t go the distance in regards to being a primary light source, while larger pendant lights can sometimes crowd a smaller space. Once you’ve sorted out your needs and how much room you have to play with, go nuts!
How to install pendant lights
Installing your pendant lights correctly is a matter of both style and safety. Here are some common areas where people choose to place pendant lights and our tips for a stress-free installation.
Above the floor
First thing’s first — measure the ceiling height of your room before any installation occurs. Ceiling heights in Australia average 2.4 metres, but there are variations when it comes to add-ons and renovations. Interior designers tend to follow the guideline of “add 8 centimetres to the length of a pendant light per extra 30 centimetres of ceiling height”, which means your lights should ideally end up sitting between 30 to 50 centimetres from the ceiling. If you’re feeling stuck, try measuring from the floor up to envision how your pendant light will hang.
Above a table
A pendant light above a table can add a gorgeous glow — if you install it properly. As a general guide, suspending your pendant light about 70 to 80 centimetres above the table top works well — this ideally means no wayward head-bumps or obscured vision across the table. For nice, clean spacing, ensure that the pendant light sits 20 to 30 centimetres from the edges of the table.
Above a bed
Nothing says cool, calm and ambient like a stunning pendant light in the bedroom, whether you opt for an above-the-bed placement or err towards the bedside tables. For a seamless and non-obstructive look, hang your pendant light between 35 to 50 centimetres above your bedside table. If you’re keen on a pendant light above the bed, hang it at least 2.1 metres above the floor.
Above an island bench
It’s crucial to consider the height between your pendant light and the top of the kitchen island bench to really pull off this classic aesthetic. Hanging too low, your pendant lights can create an overwhelming and crowded atmosphere. On the flipside, pendant lights that sit too high will be disproportionate to the kitchen island.
A rough guide to follow is hanging a pendant light around 70 to 80 centimetres above your island bench as a starting point, adjusting accordingly depending on your ceiling height or light style.
While the spacing of your pendant lights is totally up to you, there is a general rule of thumb that multiple pendant lights should be spaced about 50-80cm apart. This is just a guideline — if you’re creating a cluster, making a statement or have limited space, you can afford to be more flexible.