Fashion Plate

If you like Texas Jot, please take a look at my other blog, Fashion Plate. It is the home of my handmade retro Barbie clothes and lots of delicious recipes from my cookbooks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Selecting The Right Chandelier: It's Not Over Your Head

Math, not being one of my strong points, I usually avoid all things with numbers and formulas.  Unfortunately, sometimes one just has to bite the bullet and do some simple sums and measuring.  There are several ways to determine the correct size for a dining chandelier.

How to hang? First, use you instincts.  Your guests must be able to see each other across the table.  This means that your fixture should hang no lower than 30 inches from the top of the table.  The usual range is 30-32", escalating to36 inches.  It also needs to be dangling at least 2 feet from the ceiling, assuming 8 foot ceilings and adding 3 inches for each additional foot of ceiling height. Sometimes narrow rooms are a problem.  Be sure to keep you chandelier a minimum of 4 feet away from any walls.
How wide?  You have two options here.  You can use the 12 inches less than the width of the table or 3/4 width of the table, but don't worry about an inch or two excess.  You do not want a skimpy chandelier.  I like the formula that adds the length and width of one set of walls (ex. 16+18) and the total yields the correct diameter for your lighting (34) ...just like magic.
How tall?  The rule of thumb is 2 1/2 to 3 inches of height per foot of room height. If your ceiling height is over 9 feet, you will probably need a two-tiered chandelier.
What if I have a really long table?  Two chandeliers are in order.  Divide the length of your table by three.  Set the fixtures between the first and second third and the second and final third. For example, an 18 foot table would have chandeliers centered at 6 and 12 feet from the head of the table.
How much wattage?  Take the square footage of the space and multiply it by 1.5 watts.  Okay, here goes the math... 12x10 room equals 120 square feet x 1.5 =100 watts. If your ceilings are over 9 feet, you need to up the 1.5 watts to 2.0 watts and do the math.  Select your light bulbs to give you the desired wattage.  You also need to take into consideration the amount of natural light your room receives and whether you have any supplemental recessed lighting.  My biggest tip for your lighting?  Invest in a dimmer switch.
I think the worst mistake people make is purchasing a fixture that is too small.  Everything looks large in the store, but large soon becomes dinky when it is actually hanging in your dining room. As long as your guest can move around the room with ease and seat themselves without colliding with the lighting, you are probably okay.  As far as style's up to you.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you plan to take the chandelier with you when you move, keep resale in mind.

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