Originally designed to hold a number of candles, chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling to reduce the hazard of fire. It’s easy to see how they became the focal point of many rooms – in particular, the dining room.
According to interior designer Alice MacCullough, chandeliers also create ambiance at mealtimes for relaxed conversation.
“The success of this depends on diners being able to see each other properly across the table, without being dazzled or thrown into gloom,” she says.
MacCullough suggests a pendant light suspended from the ceiling, that is just above the eye level of diners to eliminate glare. She also recommends adding a pair of candlestick lamps on the buffet or sconces on the wall.
“Even a torchiere in the corner is nice,” she says. “Lighting is the single most important part of any interior design.”
* Over a dining room table, the bottom of the chandelier should be 30 inches above the table and 12 inches narrower (6 inches on either side) so people won’t bump their heads when rising from their chair.
* If a dining room’s ceiling height is more than 8 feet, raise the chandelier 3 inches for each additional foot of ceiling height.
* Light from a chandelier should not be the only source of illumination – a mistake often seen in dining rooms. Other light sources might include recessed down lights in the ceiling, wall sconces or floor lamps.
* The rule of thumb for a chandelier‘s proper size when not hung over a table: It can be in inches what the diagonal of the room is in feet.
* Positioning a chandelier off-center above a buffet against the wall will make a small dining room appear larger.
* Always install a dimmer switch to control mood and atmosphere.
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