Pendant Lighting Positioning and Effects

Pendant Lighting

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Pendant Lighting

Pendant lighting is attached to the ceiling and the usual approach is to have one single pendant as the main light source in a room which is supplemented by wall lights and lamp lighting. They provide a central focus to the room but used alone the lighting they provide is flat and lifeless.

More often than not you will find this type of light streaming over a home’s kitchen counters. You also get the mini pendants, which are often intimately grouped above the family’s breakfast bar or nook.

Placement is often where people come unstuck though. How high do you hang pendant light fixtures? And if I am going to group them how far should each one be from the next?

First we tackle height. Position a pendant with an “open bottom” too high; and you will have created one big eyesore! The same applies if you place a pendant fixture with “tapered-in bottom” too low. Rule – Keep the fixture at eyelevel, this will depend on average height of household occupants - but averages suggest that the optimum level lies about 70” up from the floor.

Next up is spacing. You cannot simply divide the space up into a series of equally spaced points! Look at any light that hangs above a surface – it creates a circle of light directly below it. Now when hanging new fixtures you want to ensure that this “circle” falls on the kitchen island or breakfast bar – and not appear to hang off it. You therefore want the outer pendants located within the perimeter of the surface they are hanging over.

Pendant light fixtures work well in any part of the house. If you want to deviate from the norm, there is the option of using a monorail kit which has small pendant lights attached, theses can be bent by hand into a curved shape.

Experiment with lampshades to create different effects. Colored lampshades can give a warmer or dimmer light, but care should be taken not to smother the light source too much if it is the main light source in the room. The same goes for colored light bulbs: the effect can be very appealing but sometimes bright, clear light is needed.

Instead of a traditional fabric lampshade the fixture can use a solid, frosted, opaque shield, usually white. These can then be shaped and designed for a stronger, starker look. Interesting contemporary designs use different shapes to achieve dramatic effects.

Chandelier lighting fixtures are a particularly impressive form of pendant lighting. Cylindrical, square or tapered shades can be used. Square pendant light fixtures look best in modern homes.

Pendant lighting uses standard bulb or lamp fittings. Either the base screws in or it has a ‘bayonet’ fitting with two knobs which slot into the fixture and then needs to be turned to close it. Bulbs are usually clear or opaque, referred to as pearl. Clear bulbs give a clean, bright light but cast strong shadows. Using pearl bulbs reduces these shadows.


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