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!

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

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