How to choose the right space to hang your pendant light

The right light can transform a room, but how do you hang a pendant light correctly?

Pendant lights can perform a variety of functions. From task lighting to a statement piece, the right light can give a room a distinct personality. But how do you hang a pendant light correctly? Is there a set of guidelines to follow or is it a case of whatever goes? Bunnings’ Lighting Buyer Kelly Squibb has the following advice.

Location, location, location

Is the pendant a feature or is its role more functional? Maybe it’s a bit of both. Whether your pendant is intended to provide task (lighting a specific area, usually a workspace), accent (throwing light on a particular feature) or ambient (background or general) lighting will dictate where you place your fixture in the room.

Pendant Lights

How high (or low) should a pendant light hang?

Get this wrong and it could throw out the balance of your room. The height you hang your pendant will depend not only on the height of your ceiling but also what is beneath the light – furniture or open space – and its intended use.

If the pendant/s are hung above a piece of furniture, and there's no chance anyone can bump their head, then it can be hung a bit lower to create a cosy feel.

When hanging pendants beside a bed, these should be hung at the same height that a bedside lamp would sit, allowing enough room to put things on the bedside table.

The other thing you need to consider here is light projection. The lower you hang a pendant light, the shallower the light projection will be. Also, the shape of the pendant will also impact light projection – the wider the pendant the greater the light projection.

Ask your electrician to hold the pendant at different heights or locations until you're completely happy with its position. It’s difficult to gauge whether or not you've got it right by holding the pendant up yourself.  Your electrician will also be across legislation for minimum heights over wet areas to ensure safety.

The following heights can be used as a guide only (they may not work in every setting):  

  • Above a kitchen bench: 55–70cm above the benchtop
  • Above a dining table: 70–82cm above the tabletop
  • Above bedside tables: 40–55cm, above the bedside tabletop
Pendant Lights

The right size for the space

Check your space – the pendant you select needs to sit comfortably within its surrounds. To visualise, ask someone to hold up a rough cardboard profile to get a better idea of how the light will fill the space. It’s a good idea to take photos so you can compare different positions.

Large pendants can make a great statement and become a focal point. Or try creating additional impact with smaller pendants by hanging more than one in a cluster, at the same or different heights, or in a row.

Many pendants are available in range families. For example, small pendants hung as a set of three over a kitchen bench or dining table, or one large pendant in a stairwell. 

Get the look

There are myriad styles of pendants on the market – from statement pieces to more subtle designs. Also, the material you choose will go a long way to help setting the mood in your room.

Choose concrete or metal for a more modern or industrial look, or try natural materials for a beach or modern scandi style. Glass and woven or slatted shades appear more open and throw out reflected light and shadows, creating a great effect.  

Don't do it alone

Always get a qualified electrician to complete any electrical work on your home. If you are not a qualified electrician, then performing electrical work is not only illegal but very dangerous.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.
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