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How To: Position Chandeliers and Sconces


If you have decided to install a new chandelier or a set of sconces in your home, it’s likely that you’ve spent some time agonizing over their placement. Getting it right can seem like more of an art form than an exact science, but there are a few easy-to-follow rules that can help enormously.

It’s important to get both the height and the size of your new chandelier just right. A chandelier that’s too small will get lost in the room, while one that’s too big will overwhelm it. Generally, a chandelier will be positioned either dead center in the room, or directly above the most central furnishing.

Height: A chandelier of 20-24 inches in height is most appropriate for a room with 8-foot ceilings. For any other ceiling height, try applying the following guideline; for every foot of ceiling height, multiply by 2.5 to 3 inches. The resulting figure is your ideal chandelier height.

Hang your chandelier at least 30 inches above the table, adding another three inches per foot of ceiling height for ceilings over 8 feet. For any space where people will be walking under it (living room, bathroom, walk-in closet), ensure it is at least 7 feet off the ground.

Size: The diameter of a chandelier can also be calculated with a little simple math. Add the length of your room to its width, then switch the resulting footage into inches. So, a 14 x 20 foot room would equate to a 34-inch diameter chandelier.

When hanging a chandelier above the dining table, ensure that the diameter of the fixture is one foot smaller than the width of table. So, a three-foot wide table should be paired with a two-foot wide chandelier.

Part of the charm of sconces is their versatility; they can be put into service as ambient, task or accent lighting. The right positioning lets you choose from all three.

Height: Any sconce should be positioned higher than eye level to ensure the light bulb within is not visible. 60 inches is a good height for sconces, although if you’re blessed with extra-high ceilings you may wish to take advantage by moving them up further. In the bedroom, position reading sconces at least 30 inches over the bed, to prevent bumping your head upon sitting up.

Brightness: Some sconce shades block the light from radiating directly outward, forcing it out of the top, bottom or any other part of the sconce that isn’t covered. This creates lighting effects with high drama, but it’s worth considering that it may cut down on the amount of ambient light produced. Use higher wattage bulbs in dark areas, lower wattage in areas that are already well lit, and consider switching to LED bulbs to save electricity while boosting the overall brightness of a room.


Sklar Furnishings