How far above a table should a lamp be hung? Design and lighting experts advise

How far above a table should a light be hung is a hotly debated question in interior design and important to address if you are considering hanging a pendant light above a table. to eat.

When it comes to dining room lighting ideas, incorporating a large sculptural pendant light or chandelier above a dining table is a popular choice. As well as providing general and more direct task lighting above a table, they can help create a warm atmosphere and create great design features whether switched on or off.

Choosing the design is the most fun part, as there is a huge range of styles available, but when it comes to matching, it can be hard to know which is best. Too high and it can look lost, too low and you risk the light obstructing the views and it becomes a safety hazard.

If you’re considering lighting a dining room with a hanging pendant and want to know how far above a table a light should hang, read on to find out what interior designers have to say. .

dining room with round dining table and armchair

(Image credit: future)

How far above a table should a lamp be hung?

Generally the advice is that a light should be hung about 3 feet above a dining table with “the bottom of the light hanging just above the eye line, so as not to obstruct the view on the table”, explains Simon Temprell, interior designer. Manager at Neptune (opens in a new tab).

However, this is not a hard and fast rule and will depend on a number of factors including the size of the room and the appearance of the light in relation to the space. Whether you want the light to provide direct light or more general light will also play a role. To do it right, it is important to be present during the installation.

“This is a question that my staff and I constantly debate!” says interior designer Amy Forshew (opens in a new tab). “Although the rule of thumb is at least 36 inches above the table, I insist on being there when the electrician hangs the light. Every room is different – ​​I take into consideration ceiling height, size and the scale of the chandelier, the mass of the table, and especially my customers!

Likewise, interior designer Susan Sutter (opens in a new tab) suggests that “ideally the bottom of the light fixture should hang 30 to 36 inches above the standard 30 inch high table top, making sure the bottom of the light does not block anyone’s view”.

However, some interior designers suggest hanging fixtures at higher heights, proving that there is no one-size-fits-all rule.

“40-44 inches is the typical height of chandeliers above dining tables, but with a more sprawling light it is possible to hang them slightly lower to give more of a restaurant feel,” suggests Michael Sandsmark of Design West Interiors. (opens in a new tab).

Alternatively, interior design Phillip Thomas (opens in a new tab) suggests a 6-foot gap between the table and the bottom of the chandelier, but adds that “this is just a starting point in negotiating height”. Many factors can dictate the height of a chandelier – aesthetics, site lines, architecture, etc.

modern dining room with green circular table and large paper lantern pendant

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

Take into account the ceiling height

Although 36 inches between a table top and the base of a ceiling light is often cited as a good distance to hang a light above a dining table, if you have a large room with tall ceilings, you may want to consider hanging the ceiling light higher.

“Generally, the higher the ceiling, the more space you want for the pendant light to balance with the scale of the space,” says Noelle Parks, interior designer and founder of Noelle Interiors. (opens in a new tab).

‘For a room with 8-10 foot high ceilings, I recommend a clearance of 36-42 inches between the bottom of the fixture and the top of the table. This places the fixture between 5ft 6in and 6ft above the ground, roughly eye level when standing,” adds Noelle Parks.

Tracy Morris agrees, suggesting that “if you have 8-foot ceilings, the standard rule is to hang the chandelier 36 inches above the table.” If your ceilings are 10ft, we like to hang the chandelier 40-42 inches above the table.’

gray dining room with white paneling and a sideboard

(Image credit: Project Tracy Morris / photography Greg Powers)

Consider scale

When deciding how far above a table to hang a light, there are practical issues to consider, including not obstructing sight lines, but also the aesthetic appeal of the light in the space. . In order to see if where it hangs works with the proportions, be sure to take a step back, experts say.

“It is important to be present during the installation of the chandeliers to ensure that the height is perfect. It is essential to see the chandelier both when standing and when sitting,” says Phillip Thomas.

‘A good rule of thumb is to hang the fixture 3 feet above your table or higher. This can change a bit depending on the view in the room, which will also help you determine what size and style of fixture would work in the dining room,” adds Malka Helft, Think Chic Interiors.

However, for Susan Sutter, it is important that a lamp is not hung too high because “it is essential to maintain the link between the table and the lamp so that they are considered as one element”.

Finally, perhaps just as critical as height is ensuring the light hangs in the right place above a dining table. Usually the center is the reference, but this will vary if you are hanging a series of fixtures as part of a design element.

“When placing a dining table in the room, always make sure the table, light fixture, and entrance to the room are aligned and centered in relation to each other. Following this rule will ensure enough space on all sides of the table,” says Malka Helft of Think Chic Interiors. (opens in a new tab).

Dining room with a pendant light above the dining table

(Image credit: Phillip Thomas Project / Michael Mundy Photography)

What type of light is best above a dining table?

When it comes to lighting above the table, there are many different designs available. While ceiling spotlights are a good source of general light, the ceiling light suspended above the table is a popular choice with interior designers because it can also serve as a design element. “Incorporating a large sculptural light or chandelier above the dining table can also be used to create a focal point and create mood lighting in the evenings,” says design manager Clara Ewart at Kitesgrove. (opens in a new tab).

“We like to use oversized and often quite low pendant lights in a dining room. It fills the space and makes a dramatic statement in what might otherwise be quite a traditional design,” says interior designer Tracy Morris.

When choosing a ceiling light, take inspiration from the architecture and choose a piece that matches the proportions of your room. “If you’re lucky enough to have a dining room with high ceilings and windows, having a pendant light is a great way to fill the space and adds a dramatic element to the design,” says design director Louise Wicksteed at Sims Hildtich. (opens in a new tab).

Sculptural suspension above a dining table

(Image credit: Kitesgrove)

The type of pendant lighting you choose will also be determined by the style and look of the space you want to create. For a traditional space, “choose a chandelier in the center of the table to bring a strong focal point to the room as well as an element of luxury,” says Shalini Misra of Shalini Misra Ltd. (opens in a new tab)

‘Don’t forget to install a dimmer! Everyone looks better in dim lighting – candlelight is the best light,” adds Phillip Thomas.

However, some designers believe that hanging lights above a dining table is the wrong choice. “Lighted ceiling lights at dinner are one of my pet peeves,” says Caroline Inchyra of fabric house Inchyra (opens in a new tab). “I wouldn’t specifically put any lights above the table – I’d leave that to candles – and think of wall sconces to give a glow behind everyone.”

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