ENLIGHTENING IDEAS FOR CHANDELIERS

Figuring out style, placement for best effect

Written by Beryn Hammil

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

© San Francisco Chronicle, 2002

 

 

Question: I have a new chandelier to install. How high off the floor should it be? My room is narrow, the chandelier is large with both candles and electric lights and some crystal pendants. The ceiling is about 20 feet high at its highest triangular apex. I would also like to cover the chandelier chain. I have the fabric but cannot figure out a way of making the "tube" so that it can be removed for cleaning without dismantling the entire chandelier or affecting its "bunch-ability."

MARILYN MATHERS
Richmond

 

Answer: One of the most important details in creating an inviting dining room is the lighting. While candles are the most romantic and flattering light you can use for dining, they don't necessarily answer all of our lighting needs, especially since the dining table isn't always used for romantic dinners.

Let's face it, a dining table is used for doing other things like homework with the kids, craft projects and meeting with people to do personal business.

So we'll start with the primary function of the dining room - to share meals with family and friends. An everyday meal with the family requires brighter lighting than for an intimate, romantic dinner for two. The solution: a chandelier with several lights that can take on different dining and practical functions nicely, especially when the wall switch has a dimmer control. When dinner is more intimate or social with guests, candlesticks placed on the table can be added for mood lighting. Lower the intensity of the chandelier so it gives off only a soft, warm glow that complements the candles. .

HOW HIGH, YOU ASK?

The correct height depends on several things: What is the style of the chandelier? What is the style of the room? And how high is the ceiling?

If it's traditional, contemporary or ultra-modern with several arms and you can see through the piece, then closer to the table is the best option, from 28 to 32 inches above the table. If the chandelier is a solid, bowl style and you can't see through it, then it should be slightly higher.

You can use a couple of easy tricks to help you visualize the correct height for your chandelier. For the bowl-style chandelier, there's a trick that makes me smile at its image -- the umbrella trick. The average bowl chandelier has a diameter of 24 to 36 inches and is similar in size to an open umbrella. The trick: take your umbrella, open it and hold it upside down over the dining table.

Once you find a height you like, measure how high above the table the bottom of the umbrella is and that's the height the bottom of your chandelier should be.

If your chandelier is open style, there's a trick for you, too. Take two pieces of cardboard, approximately the same length as the width of your chandelier at its widest point (you might have to tape several pieces together lengthwise). Hold both lengths of cardboard sideways and cut a slot half way into each piece vertically. Now insert the slots of the two pieces into each other and fan it out to make an X out of the two pieces. This model replicates the diameter of the open arms of your chandelier.

The bottom of it should be at the height that's comfortable when seated at the table. Remember to allow for the decorative end of the chandelier.

CONSIDERING THE CHAIN

There is no easy trick for making a fabric sleeve that hides the chain from the ceiling. When I made a sleeve on a chandelier I had to move the table aside and stand on a ladder to sew it onto the chain. I used a piece of fabric that was twice the length of the chain and three times as wide. Before climbing the ladder I hemmed both sides of the length of fabric to make nice, clean edges.

Standing level with the bottom of the chain I started with the part of the fabric that will be at the top but worked with it on the bottom of the chain. Using a blind running stitch to sew the two edges together, I pushed the sewn fabric up the chain as I went. It wasn't as difficult as it sounds, but my arms were tired when I was done.

 

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