This latest little home improvement project is especially close to my heart. We’ve lived in our house for almost six years now and I’ve been planning to hang a chandelier in our dining room since before we even moved in. That sounds like a pretty simple task in most houses, but our house is a little weird.
First of all, our dining room wasn’t really even a dining room. It was just kind of an undefined, purposeless space when we moved in and it didn’t even have a light in the center of the room. When I saw it, I just thought it seemed perfect for a dining room, so I decided that a dining room it would be! Our house is 120 years old, so there actually wasn’t any electricity at all when the house was built. Over time, lights were just added where they were needed, so I guess this room just always got left out!
Of course, when we first moved in, I thought that we’d get everything done on this house lickety-split, so I already had the perfect chandelier style all picked out. Six years later, I still had that same chandelier in mind, and the timing was right to finally make it happen! Such a satisfying moment in renovating history! 🙂
(You’re getting a glimpse of the set up in my spring dining room in these photos. You can see the whole room here.)
I have to admit that I did nothing for this project other than pick out the chandelier and make dinner while Chris ran the wiring for it and hung it up. He even went out and bought the light bulbs!
The chandelier we chose is super simple and while you can buy expensive versions of this type of chandelier, ours is a cheapy from Lowe’s that had a lot of great reviews from other people with older homes. And actually, that cheapy-ness helps because we weren’t sure quite how we were going to hang it at first, so it’s nice the the cheaper lights are made out of lighter weight metal! (Here’s a similar chandelier if you’re looking for one like ours!)
The great thing is that if you follow a few guidelines, it doesn’t matter if your chandelier is super expensive or if you pick it up for free on the side of the road. You can still make that chandelier look right at home in your room.
Some of us just know what we like and have a knack for picking something out that works perfectly without ever having to give it a second thought. Some of us get stuck on big decisions like a light fixture that hangs in the middle of your room for all to see. Anxiety and indecision can be a huge part of home decor choices for some people and that’s really unfortunate because this stuff should be fun! If you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to picking a style of light fixture for your dining room, then here’s my trick: It doesn’t matter what your budget is, you can teach yourself to have an eye for style. You just need to train your eye! Make a point of looking at as many pictures of dining rooms and dining room-like spaces as you can and you will start to see some common factors in things that you like that really stand out to you. Finding a few home style blogs to read can really help of course. I also really like to look at online “ecatalogs” from home decor stores and of course Pinterest. The more pictures you look at, the easier choosing things that you love for your home will be! It doesn’t matter if you’re at a thrift store or a fancy home decor shop, your eye will automatically lead you to the right stuff. 🙂
There are a few rules to follow that make a chandelier look “right” in a room and make it feel welcoming instead of awkward. In general, the diameter of a chandelier should be about one foot smaller than the width of your table. If you stick to somewhere around there, your sizing will look “just right” and you won’t get stuck with something too big or too tiny.
The chandelier should be hung about 30 inches above the top of the table, but if your ceilings are higher than eight feet, they say you should add an extra three inches off of your off-table height for every foot of extra ceiling height. So if you have 10 foot ceilings, your chandelier should hang 36 inches above your table.
Breaking the Rules
Of course you can break the rules! Once you know exactly what “normal” is for chandelier hanging and sizing, you’ll know what you need to do if you want a bit of a different effect. Making your chandelier a tiny bit bigger will add drama and hanging it an inch or two lower will make the atmosphere in your dining room feel a little more cozy and intimate. For the record, mine’s hung about an inch lower than normal. If you have a more casual space, like a breakfast nook off a kitchen and you want it to feel a little less formal, hanging the chandelier a bit higher or choosing one that’s slightly smaller than the rule will achieve that.
Make sure you use a bit of thought when you break the rules though, a too-tiny chandelier can sometimes look really ridiculous, and a too-big one can be a hazard for head-bonking!
So those are a few of my tips for picking out the perfect chandelier for your dining room. Do you have a light fixture picking tip that you find really helps?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.