The pendant light has been around for centuries and it’s recently experiencing a surge in popularity. It’s not hard to understand why: pendants are versatile and stylish, and they can make a design statement to be admired, whether they’re switched on or off.
In basic terms, a pendant light hangs from the ceiling by a rod, cord or chain, with a bulb and shade. It’s often how they shine their light and the style of shade that makes them memorable, says Brilliant Lighting’s Sharon Breeze, it’s often how they shine their light and the style of shade that makes them memorable. “You can enhance timber floors with natural weave pendants for a coastal vibe, introduce timbers to accent Scandi furniture, and bring a room to life with the modern industrial shades that showcase feature-led filament globes,” she says.
Pendants can provide excellent task lighting for meal preparation; they can also create an intimate vibe for dinner parties. However, there are a few principles to bear in mind in the kitchen. First, odd numbers work best. For large islands, “three is the magic number,” says Sharon. Space them evenly, but not so far apart that they leave shaded spaces. Alternatively, try one wide model. For a small island, hang one pendant and centre it.
If you need the pendants to double as task lighting, they must be able to cast strong light onto the benchtop. Include a dimmer to change the space quickly from a work zone to a place to entertain and dine.
● Centred over the width of bench, about 75cm apart for multiple pendants.
● Approximately 80cm-90cm height from bench to the base of the shade.
● About 15cm from the edge of island.
A pendant over a dining table can create an immediate feeling of intimacy. The pendant – or pendants, depending on the size of the table – can be a statement in itself, says the team from Mercator Lighting, but the lighting shouldn’t dominate the space. A good rule of thumb is to choose a light the size of about one-third to half the width of the dining table. Make sure pendants are hung at a height that won’t block anyone’s views across the table.
● Centred or evenly spaced over the table.
● About 70cm-90cm from the tabletop to the base of the shade.
● 15cm from the edge of the table on each side.
Pendants offer a functional and stylish touch to entranceways, and add to the impression of space by drawing the eye upwards. For a smaller entrance, a single pendant is perfect; for a hallway, try an evenly-spaced series of pendants. Another trick is to use multiple fixtures, says the team from Mercator Lighting. “Layering lights gives the room added dimension and character. Try it in a tall foyer, where staggered heights make a statement.”
● Centred between walls, at least 120cm away from surrounding walls.
● Minimum of 210cm-240cm from the base of the shade to the floor (to allow passage beneath).
● For double-height ceilings, pendants should hang no lower than ground-floor ceiling height (about 2.4m).
In the bedroom, pendants can bring elegance to bedside tables or light a reading nook. If a pendant is not over a table, you’ll need to factor in the room’s size. “Refrain from placing them in small rooms or rooms with standard-low ceilings, as they can make the room feel smaller,” says the team from Mercator Lighting.
● Centred over each bedside table.
● About 45-60cm above bedside tables.
For a luxurious alternative to traditional sconces or downlights in the bathroom, consider hanging pendants beside bathroom mirrors. “Pendants are a great way to add a spa retreat feel to a bathroom,” says Sharon. When choosing bathroom pendants, ensure they’re suitable for damp areas and seek professional advice on suitable clearance from water sources. Also, make sure pendants are placed well clear of mirror cabinet doors (double-check door opening clearance).
Here’s a top tip to check how your pendant will look before you buy. Wherever you decide to hang the lights, Sharon suggests first attaching string to your chosen spot on the ceiling with a paper cut-out of the shade. “You can choose your best hanging height and balance the location easily this way – and even choose between designs. A handy hint is to print out a large image (as close to scale as you can) of the pendant and cut it out,” she says.
All hardwired electrical fixtures need to be installed by a licensed electrician.
*‘Perfect placement’ guides courtesy of Mercator Lighting. Measurements are a guide only.
Beautiful lights don’t have to come at an extra cost to the environment and your pocket. Check out our essential guide on how to choose energy saving light bulbs.
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Photo Credit: Larnie Nicolson, Sue Stubbs, Cath Muscat and Mercator
Image rendering: Alejandro Sosa 3D