5 Top Designer Tips on Choosing a Chandelier

Next time you are adding lighting to a scheme why not ask yourself “if this room could speak what would it say.”

I find this creative prompt especially useful when deciding on a statement piece of lighting that will set the agenda for the whole space – a Chandelier for example. The interior may say ‘wow’ or ‘elegance’, ‘grandeur’ etc.

Of course, not all rooms need a shout out statement. You have the other furnishings to consider too and the general theme of the interior to balance. But if your room wants to make a singular bold declaration – then a focal point in a chandelier is the ideal solution to make your room look incredible.

Chandeliers as Feature Lighting

Crucially, chandeliers are all about the size of the statement.

Too small and it will appear paltry and it will be lost. Too large and they can shout too loud and seem vulgar? Certainly, we need to remember some ground rules in the specifying a lighting focal point, that strikes the correct design tone for the size of space.

For a useful guide we have picked the brains of leading US interior designer Kelly Wearstler who uses chandeliers in most of her high end interior projects. She also designs many of the ceiling lights within the Visual Comfort range which is available through the Orange Lighting website.

visual comfort paris flea market chandelier

Design Guide to Choosing a Chandelier: 

How to Estimate the Size of a Chandelier:

As a general rule of thumb, you can add the length and the width of a room together (works best in feet) and convert the result into inches to arrive at the ideal diameter for the feature light.

Example: So for a rough guide, a room is 8m x 5m what diameter pendant/chandelier are we looking for?

8m = approx 26 ft / 5m = 16 ft26 + 16 = 42 ….convert to 42 inches which is approx 1m diameter

What Height Should a Pendant or Chandelier Be:

The drop downlength is determined by allowing a minimum 12 inches gap overhead height – so seven feet should suffice. Placement over a dining area should permit a metre between the chandeliers lowest edge and the table surface to avoid head butts when serving.

Choosing the Shape of a Ceiling Light:

A full four-tiered chandelier may suit the centre of a square Ballroom but do consider the proportions of a room before you specify your decorative centrepiece. In the case of corridors, bathrooms and hallways use a linear fixture that will complement the portions of the room.

Goodman Shades

Choosing the Scale of a Light in a Room:

Sometimes the desired size of the feature is not practical for the intended interior. Resist dramatic pieces if the fixture is likely to be upstaged by other furnishing or simply if the chandelier is so dramatic it needs a solo performance. Err on the side of ‘over-sizing’ – there is nothing worse than a diminutive chandelier.

Consider the Quality of Light Created:

Keep in mind the function of the light too. No doubt it is wonderful to waltz under a crystal chandelier that sends shards of prismatic light across the floor; not so ideal to dine under it or to conduct a conference session. Of course, secondary schemes can pick this detail up but bear in mind the type of light that the chandelier emits. Porcelain shades shed a romantic candle light that is ideal for dining, and artificial diffusers can provide a variety of light textures to suit the purpose of the room.


View our Visual Comfort range for design inspiration or call us and we will refer tour wealth of experience to find the perfect statement for your next interior project.

Andrew Orange, the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.