How high to hang a chandelier over a dining room table

Matthew aka vintage_vantage, writes to ask for advice on how high to hang his vintage chandelier. Fortunately Bo (Sullivan) knows. Matthew writes:

Good morning Pam. I have a few questions for you. I just picked up some vintage lighting from my local Goodwill. I rewired it and it’s ready to be put up. I wanted to put this over my dining room table (Not this light (above, from Ann’s Antique Lights on etsy.com) but I found an exact copy of it! I got so lucky. It was listed for $3, but all “electronics” were half off that day. I also snagged an awesome tv lamp to add to my collection for $0.50! Like you say, the Gods were with me!) I digress. My question is that I dont know how far to hang it down from the ceiling/ how far up from the table it should be. I go by vintage_vantage on your wonderful blog and I sent a few pictures through a few weeks ago when we discussed the pendant lighting from Menards. (I love my lamp, but vintage is always better in my book so I am replacing my Menards lamp.) I hope this make sense and is not too hard to follow.

What a wonderful find, Matthew, and your question is not too hard to follow at all. In fact, it’s one that probably drives EVERYONE crazy when they go to try and hang a light over their dining room table. Am I hearing you paid $1.50 for this lovely chandelier? Well done, that is one fantabulous find. Who the heck would rip one of these out???! Anyway, I digress, too. To answer your question, I turn to Bo Sullivan, an expert in historic lighting, with his own consultancy Arcalus, and a well-known client, Rejuvenation. Bo immediately responds:

The general rule for dining rooms is 66″-72″ from the floor, over a 30″ high table (lights in the old days typically hung lower than we are necessarily accustomed to today).  However, for a light like this where you can “see into” the top of the bowl shade, one might want to go a little higher, like 78″.  Ceiling height has an impact also.

The best thing to do in any case is to hold the fixture over the table and move it up or down until it simply feels right for the setting.  An interesting tool someone can use is also the Room Scale View feature on the Rejuvenation website.  Find a fixture in the Rejuvenation line that is similar to the one in question – in this case the Blairmont is a fair approximation:  On the Customize tab, click on the Length button and input a length that matches what you think you want.  Next click on the Room Scale View button below the rendering on the left.  There you can input your room dimensions, add a table under the light, and get a rough approximation of what the scale might be in your setting.  Kinda fun, but nothing substitutes for  just holding it up to see what feels right.  Also worth noting that with a chain-hung fixture, you have a lot more flexibility with removing chain links to shorten than something with a fixed length.  Hope this helps.

Sure does, Bo. Thank you!

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Comments

  1. Amy Hill says

    Oh Sweet! I love mid-century lighting! Can we see a picture of the other lamp you bought for $0.50?

    The Goodwill is the best. Sometimes they overprice and sometimes they totally miss the mark but it all goes for a good cause!

  2. says

    When we were hanging a Rejuvenation fixture in our dining room (the Cerise) we actually went so far as to make a 2-D paper pattern of the shade and hang it with string from the ceiling. We lived with it a few days to be sure it felt right before hard wiring it in place. It worked! As Bo says, each room setting is different, so I felt it was worth the extra trouble and time. I’d rather spend time on that than rewiring the fixture higher later, or worse: realizing that you would have liked it lower but now there’s not enough cord to drop it lower!

  3. Ruth says

    I learned a great trick on how to get a sense of proportion and room scale. Blow up a balloon, tie a string to the ballon, tape string to ceiling and stand back to decide if you like that height. It’s easy to adjust and a balloon is close to the same size as a light fixture.

  4. Dan O. says

    Just the other day this subject came up on a home improvement show, the standard was considered to be 30″ from the table top.

  5. Kim says

    This reminds me of after my feisty beloved grandma passed on (not to bring the room down, really!). She had a 60s chandelier that had hung over several iterations of the dining table for decades–one of those faux wrought-iron candelabras with the flame-shaped bulbs. Anyway, we donated the table and chairs to charity…and then every. single. member. of our extended family whacked his or her head on that damn chandelier at least once as we continued to sort out her belongings. We’re all short–it must’ve been awfully low, but with a table ever-present we’d never noticed!

  6. Pencils says

    You got that for fifty cents? Wow, you are amazingly lucky. I love those type of fixtures, and plan to hang a few of the smaller semi-flush versions in my halls.

  7. Maureen says

    I’m sorry, but the correct answer is, that fixture will not work at Matthew’s house. He should send it to me and keep the Menard’s fixture. ;) It looks lovely, hopefully you’ll get a pic when he hangs it.

  8. TappanTrailerTami says

    Matthew, you SCORED with this light! For your information, this is a Porcelier chandelier and these were distributed by Harmony House (Sears). Porcelier is also a fun collectible since the company made scads of light fixtures, and also tea sets, porcelain percolator sets, porcelain toasters, waffle makers, and some table lamps (I have two!).

    You can search Porcelier on eBay to get an idea of what all they made. There is also a Porcelier collector’s book available. The Porcelier Company started in East Liverpool, Ohio, in the 1920s. It moved to South Greensburg, PA, in the 1930s and went out of business in the 1950s.

    Enjoy your new light – I bought this same light for my mom a few years ago, and it proudly hangs over her dining room table, at a lot higher price!

  9. Lara Jane says

    What a pretty light! And such a steal of a deal, too!

    One of my pet peeves is a too-high dining room light. It’s supposed to illuminate the table, not the ceiling! I’ve always heard 30″ above the table. What does it matter how high it is off the floor? LOL!!!

    Great info, Tami!

  10. says

    I completely agree that the light changes the whole look of the room. Very important is a height of the ceiling. The height of the ceiling refers to the distance from the floor to the ceiling. A taller ceiling requires the larger the chandelier. Above all don´t forget to turn of the power at the circuit box to the light that you are going to replace.

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