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Hanging Heights: High, Low or Somewhere in Between?

With the array of beautiful lighting options that exist today, it’s easy to get carried away when shopping for lighting! Before you make your choice, however, consider the primary purpose for lighting: to provide light. You’ll need to think about how high (or low) to hang your new lighting to cast the proper amount of light to illuminate tasks or achieve your desired ambience.

Chandeliers and pendants are typically the “wow” pieces that express your home’s style and personality. When choosing those pieces, it’s important to keep in mind that the new fixture needs to fit appropriately in the space. A grand chandelier, for example, will not fit in a foyer with an 8- or 9-foot ceiling height. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, consider a flush mount or semi-flush mount fixture to achieve the clearance requirements for the room.

From the floor up, the clearance needed depends on the space. As a rule, keep 7 feet of clearance from the floor up to the bottom of the fixture in a space like a foyer, living room or bedroom where people may walk underneath a fixture. In an open foyer or hallway, hang chandeliers or pendants with the bottom at least 6 inches higher than the door.

For both dining tables and kitchen islands, measure the height from the floor to where the bottom of the fixture should be: a good rule of thumb is to hang mini or medium-sized pendants 66 to 72 inches from the floor to the bottom of each fixture.

Add the perfect finishing touch to your lighting plan with wall sconces. The general rule for where to hang a sconce is to start at 62 to 63 inches from the floor to the center of the backplate, or about eye level. Adjust the height so that no one can look into the fixture and see the bare bulb. For a room with 8-foot ceilings, place sconces between 60 and 66 inches high; place them 66 to 72 inches high in rooms with ceilings over 9 feet.

In the bathroom, place vanity lighting as level to your face as possible to eliminate shadows. Mount wall sconces on either side of the mirror, within two to three feet of each other and 60 to 66 inches above the floor. If you don’t have room on the sides of your mirror, try the latest trend, which is mounting a pair of sconces on the mirror itself. If there’s just no room for sconces, choose a bath bar or two, and install these 75 to 80 inches above the floor for the best light.

Want more tips? Visit our Lighting Tips and Guidelines page.