Looking for a way to accessorise your home? Need a little sparkle? A way to add interest to an open plan space? A pendant light is the perfect solution. But wait! The temptation is great to find a pretty pendant online and buy it without a second thought, especially if your primary reason for buying is aesthetic. Who could blame you?
Pendant lights are beautiful (and completely Instagram-worthy! We see you, home decor bloggers). The thing is, there’s way more to buying a pendant light than just finding something that looks pretty. Read this article before you make any big purchases, and you’ll be able to make sure the first one you buy is your perfect match.
What is a Pendant Light?
By definition, a pendant light is any light suspended from the ceiling. It is named because of the way a dangling light resembles a necklace pendant. In fact, pendant lights could be considered the jewelry of the home, adding movement, beauty and interest to any space. A pendant light fitting may be suspended by a chain, cord, or rod, and may be hung alone, evenly spaced out, or clustered together in groups.
Pendant light options are vast. There may be a single bulb, or the fitting may require many bulbs. There may be a shade, or the bulb(s) may be exposed. There are hundreds of different materials and configurations on offer, all of which fall under the category of ‘pendant light’. You will often see pendant lights over a dining table, kitchen benchtop, or bedside table, but they can work in any room of the house.
Pendant lighting has long been used in a variety of different interiors and architectural styles, but it pairs especially well with the minimalist architecture and interior design that has become popular in recent years. Because they are versatile and typically affordable, people often switch them out each season to keep their home feeling fresh and fashion-forward. They are also gaining popularity due to our love affair with open plan living, being used to create division of space and to mark out ‘rooms’.
More than just the Style:
Choosing a Pendant Light
There are a bunch of things to take into consideration when you’re choosing pendant lights. We’ve put together these guidelines to help you think like a designer. Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to get it right the first time.
Know the Space
Know the measurements of the area you’re working with. That means you need to know the height of your ceiling, the size of the room, and the height and length of any surfaces you are planning to light (kitchen counter, kitchen island, dining table or desk). Seriously, don’t read any further until you go and get measurements of your space! We’ll wait. Trying to choose a pendant light without knowing your measurements is like choosing a pretty jumper off the rack without looking at what size it is and with no idea what size you fit into.
Find Your Height
Once you’ve got the numbers you need, it’s time to use them to work out what you’re looking for. In general, a feature pendant should be no lower than 1.8m from floor level (measuring from the bottom of the fitting). This makes it just above eye level. A pendant over a bench top or table can be dropped to as low as 2.1mt . A pendant also needs some length suspending it to create fluidity and movement. A large pendant, in particular, will look very out of place if it’s too close to the ceiling. Keeping both those things in mind means you may be limited to a small or mini pendant light if your ceilings are low.
Shop by Size
How much space do you really have? Use your own measurements and these guides to assist in choosing the right size pendant for your space.
Ambient VS Directional
Consider how you use light. Pendants need to look pretty when they’re off, but they also need to give you the kind of light you need for a space to be functional. There are two main types of light pendants can offer:
Ambient light - a pendant with an exposed bulb offers an ambient light that is soft and multi-directional, creating a ‘glow’ effect. The light is able to bounce around the room off the ceilings and walls, diffusing it so the light is less intense than when it is navigated in one direction.
Directional light - pendants with a shade tend to navigate light downwards, directing light to a single point . This creates a patch of intense light below the light fitting, but may leave the rest of the room a little dark . This is great for functional spaces like benchtops or desks where you need light intensity to see what you’re doing.
Caption: Ambient light is multi-directional and creates a ‘glow’ effect, whereas Directional light is navigated in one direction, typically downwards.
Choose a Layout
Think about how many lights you want, and how you want them configured. Say you’re lighting a benchtop: would three lights spaced evenly work best? Or would you consider a cluster at one end as a feature? How might the configuration change depending on the style or size of the pendant you choose? Again, your measurements will be integral to this decision. If you want three pendants over your benchtop, the size of your fittings will have to work with the length you’re trying to cover. It’s best to have some idea of the configuration you want before you choose the size, materials and style, so you can make sure they work for your needs.
Consider Room Function
Consider what part of the home you are looking to light, and what your needs are in that space. Different rooms of the home require different types of lighting. Benchtops and workspaces usually need more intense, directed, task lighting. Bedrooms and lounge areas can call for ambient light, with some task light in front of the robe or on the bedside table for reading. Bathrooms are humid and require materials that can withstand a lot of moisture and steam. Think in detail about the function and the style of the specific room in the home so you can make the right choice for that space.
Materials and Style
Now it’s (finally!) the time to think about materials and style! This is the fun part, and the step most people jump to first.
Pendant Light Styles and Materials
Once you’ve decided you need a pendant light, and taken the time to measure and understand your space, it’s finally time to think about what style will work best in your space. Some of the most popular choices include:
Black pendant lights are one of the most popular choices of lighting, and it’s not hard to und...