A Guide to Choosing a Ceiling Light for Your Home
Updated: Feb 28
If you are planning to buy a new ceiling light for your home, one thing that you might wonder is how you can choose the right size light. Below you’ll find a guide to choosing the right light for the room and knowing how big it should be, how long it should hang, and what types of lights you might consider.
Scale: Light Fixture Diameter & Height
One thing that you want to do is learn about the basic parameters you should know before adding furniture. These guidelines will apply to the ceiling lights such as pendants, flushmounts and chandeliers in an open room such as a bedroom or living room.
Begin with a room that’s open and note the length, height and width of the room.
For determining your light fixture’s diameter that will work best in your space, these are the steps to take:
Measure your room’s width and length in feet. For example, 10 feet x 16 feet.
Add those two lengths – 10+16 = 26 feet
Swap that amount so that it’s inches rather than feet, so 26 feet becomes 26 inches.
This is the diameter that you should look for when you shop for your light fixture.
For determining the light fixture’s height for your room, take the following steps:
Start with your room’s height from the floor to your ceiling and measure it in feet. An example would be 8 feet high.
Then multiply that number by 2.5 to 3 per foot. 8 feet would become 20 to 24 feet.
Swap this value for inches, so 20 feet would become 20 inches and 24 feet would become 24 inches.
This is the best height for your light fixture.
So, using our example you would want to look for a fixture that is 26 inches in diameter and has a height of 20-24 inches.
Clearance: Determining how low your fixture is able to hang
Depending on the fixture’s placement or your room, the fixture’s height or its hanging length is going to have the same importance as its size. The amount of clearance it needs will depend on where it’s been used.
In open foyers, bedrooms or living rooms, where there may be people walking beneath the fixture:
Keep a clearance of 7 feet from the fixture’s bottom to your floor.
If the ceiling is 8 feet, think about adding a flushmount with a low profile so that you have the right lighting requirements and clearance for your room.
In hallways or foyers that are open, hang pendants or chandeliers with their bottoms a minimum of 6 inches above the door.
When you are installing a light above your tub, you should have at last 8 feet in between your tub’s top and the fixture’s bottom. This can be hard to do if your bathroom is small, so if this isn’t possible, think about buying something smaller, or put the light a minimum of three feet from your tub, remembering the rule about 7’ of clearance in mind as well.
Spacing: Where Lighting Fixtures Should be Hung
The space between and around the lighting fixtures also is important, especially when it comes to the way it relates to things like a table or kitchen island. Lighting that you use in your dining room and kitchen over a surface will use the above guidelines, with a few adjustments mostly regarding the width, diameter and hanging height.
Lights Over a Table in Your Dining Room
Consider the size and shape of the table
Long oval or rectangular tables will work well with multiple light pendants or linear suspension options
Round or square tables will work well with a chandelier or single pendant placed in the table’s middle
Multiple lights also are appealing. You can try using one of the round canopy multi-lights to create a dramatic effect.
If you prefer more than one light, you can buy smaller pendants and line them across your table to make a stylish statement.
When you’re placing your fixture over your table, be certain the length or width is a minimum of one foot shorter than the table’s total length. You can also make it 6 inches smaller on both sides.
Hang the light so it’s 28” – 36” from the fixture’s bottom to your table’s top.
Lighting Above Your Kitchen Island
Mini pendants and pendants are often used for providing task and ambient lighting over a work surface or kitchen island.
Be certain that you’re accounting for the equal amount of space around your pendants. This formula below can be used to help you with determining the amount of space:
Measure your kitchen table or island in inches – example 60 inches.
Determine the number of pendants you’re going to buy and their diameter. Add those up to get your combined diameter. An example would be 3 pendants that each have a diameter of 8 inches, so that would be 24 inches.
Take that number and subtract it from the island’s length. For example, 60” – 24” = 36”
Add 1 to your pendant number. This is going to account for the space that’s in between the pendants and the island’s ends. Since we began with 3, this number will be 4.
Divide the value that you got from subtracting by how many pendants you have. Our example is 36/4 so you want to have around 9 inches in between your pendants.
If you would rather have larger pendants, you want to use even numbers and use the same formula above. When you have two lights, each should be around 1/3 of the table’s or island’s width below them.
One good way to remember how long medium or mini pedants should be is that their bottom should be 66” to 72” above the floor.