A pendant lamp can add a dramatic touch to your home design. Unlike flush-mounted ceiling lights, these hanging lamps dangle from the ceiling by chains, rods or cords to draw attention and define spaces. Some have decorative shades that encapsulate a bulb, while others are bare bulbs surrounded by attractive frames. The unique form of these lamps gives them a versatile look that works well in homes with modern to contemporary decor.
Choose your style
A pendant light’s shade can say a lot about its purpose and mood. A glass pendant lamp, like a mouth-blown Murano flute or an industrial-style ribbed drum, directs its light downward, while fabric pendants diffuse it to throw off a soft, ambient glow. The shade’s material can also influence its appearance, as metal shades have a more contemporary feel than those crafted from translucent glass or ceramics.
Pendant lighting is a great way to accentuate a room’s focal point, such as an art gallery wall or the front door. Hang it a few feet above the entrance to create an inviting focal point, or place it over a kitchen island or dining table to add ambience to the area where you gather to prepare food. You can also use them to highlight a collection of decorative objects or denote a seating area in your foyer.
Before you start tearing down that old fixture, make sure that the power to it is completely cut by flipping the circuit breaker or pulling the fuse. Then, carefully unscrew the screws holding the casing to reveal the wiring. If you’re nervous about working with electricity, consider hiring a qualified electrician to do the job for you.
After removing the old fixture, inspect it for damage and check the wire connections to determine if they need to be reconnected. If they do, carefully strip the insulation from each set of wires, leaving about 1/2 inch of bare wire on each. Employ a helper, if possible, to hold the fixture while you reattach the wires. Connect the ground wire first, followed by the neutral and then the hot wire. Twist each set together and secure them with wire nuts on the ends.
When the job is done, you’ll be ready to enjoy your new pendant light. Be sure to keep it in good condition, however, by cleaning it regularly. A buildup of dust or bugs can block the socket’s opening, which prevents the bulb from turning on. This can cause the bulb to burn out quickly, so be sure to clean it regularly to avoid this problem.
The height at which you hang your pendant lamp will affect how bright it is. Ideally, the bottom of the shade should be about 30 inches above your kitchen island or desk to allow you to read and work comfortably. A pendant that hangs over a sitting or standing dining table should be about 36 inches above the table. Similarly, a pendant hung over an accent table or a group of chairs should be about seven feet from the floor.