Pendant lights: What are they and how to use them best

Written by

18 February 2021


6 min read

Pendant lights are a fantastic option for lighting a home delivering both style and substance in many different ways. However, to get the most out of them a bit of thought and technique are required considering several things. By following a few fundamental steps you can ensure you set them up in the best possible way for one and all to enjoy.

Whether your interior design aesthetic is contemporary, traditional or somewhere in between, you’ll find pendant lights that will blend beautifully with your styling. What’s more, than can be used in almost any space in the home from the dining and living room to the bathroom and entryway. By understanding how to use them best you can add value in more ways than you might expect.

Pendant lights like the Bullit Pendant Light are a practical and stylish way to brighten up your living spaces

What is a pendant light?

A pendant light is a ceiling-mounted light that hangs suspended from a rod, cord or chain, often featuring a single light with a decorative shade. Sometimes, multiple chains can be grouped together suspending one or more multiple pendants.

What is the purpose of a pendant light?

Pendant lights are great for ambient lighting and can often be adjusted to suit the needs of the household using dimmers. They can also be used for task lighting over a dining table or popularly over a kitchen island. Pendant lights are a highly decorative type of ceiling light and are often chosen for their stylistic and ornamental qualities more so than their practical ones.

The SPENDW Wooden Pendant Light is a great example of naturally sophisticated task lighting

Are there different types of pendant lights?

There are a variety of different types of pendant lights to choose from giving homeowners a wide range of options. For example, traditional glass and crystal designs work well in more formal living spaces while modern metal pendants can create a more industrial aesthetic. In addition, oversized pendants over dining tables can make an impressive statement while mini-pendants hung at eye level add a contemporary touch to any space.

What size pendant lights will you need?

You can find pendant lights in almost any size giving you a lot of flexibility when making your decision. For example, mini pendants can be as small as 10 cm in diameter while traditional options can be as wide as 75 cm or above. Allow the dimensions of the room to help guide your decision. You can also compare the size of the pendant's shade to the biggest piece of furniture in the room. You want one that stands out but doesn't demand too much attention or detract from the rest of your decor. The height of the ceiling is also a factor as the pendant should hang at least 30 cm above your head if people are likely to walk under it.

Pendant lights come in all shapes and sizes, beautifully seen here with the Ether Pendant Lamp by Leucos

How long should pendant lights hang?

The perfect hanging height for pendant lighting varies by room, but the measurements are fairly easy to follow.


When talking about kitchens we're really talking about kitchen island pendant lighting. If you have a small kitchen island, one pendant light may suffice. In that case, hang it about 90 cm above the island's centre. For larger kitchen islands, keep this height but space your kitchen island pendants out evenly, leaving 45 cm on either end.


As a general rule of thumb, pendant lighting in a bathroom should hang at a height of approximately 180 to 200 cm above the floor. This placement allows for ample light coverage without getting in the way of any bathroom activities.


For an entryway or foyer in a home, you should hang pendant lights at a height that provides enough clearance above the heads of those walking underneath it. This means it should hang at least 7 feet above the floor. They can be quite grand and a real focal point in a large space.

Judging the hanging height for pendant lights is crucial, especially when working with exquisite examples like the Nipomo Chandelier by McGuire Furniture

Dining room

The height above a dining room table can greatly impact the overall look and feel of your dining area. Pendant lights typically hang between 70 to 85 cm above the table. If your ceiling height is on the taller side or you have a larger pendant light, it's recommended to hang the fixture higher to allow for a more spacious feel.

Living room

In a living room, pendant lights should hang at least 60 cm from the ceiling. This measurement ensures that the fixture will be away from any furniture or people in the room while still providing enough light to the area.


When it comes to the bedroom, hanging pendants at the right height is crucial for not only the aesthetic appeal of the room but also for practicality. The general rule of thumb is to suspend the pendant light 30 to 50 cm below the ceiling, depending on the height of the ceiling and the size of the pendant.

Perfectly positioned above the dining table with the Sonora Pendant by Oluce

Should I consider multiple pendant lights in a room?

Yes, multiple pendant lights can be a great way to improve a room's lighting design. If you choose to install two pendant lights or more in the same room, make sure they are evenly spaced out and hung at the same height. Additionally, when selecting multiple pendants, try to stick to the same type and style of fixtures for a cohesive look. For example, if you have a kitchen island with three staggered pendants, try to find three pendants of the same colour, size and style. This will help create a visually pleasing design that ties the room together without being too overwhelming.

You can go with a number of pendant lights or a multi-pendant light like the Jolly Pendant by NAU

Do pendant lights work with other types of lights?

Yes, pendant lights can be used in combination with other types of lighting fixtures such as recessed lighting, wall sconces or even floor lamps. You can use these other types of lights to brighten up a room without the need for multiple pendants. However, if you do choose to add more than one type of light fixture, make sure to keep the same colour scheme and style for a more cohesive look. Additionally, try to balance out the light sources throughout the room. For instance, you can place your pendant light in the centre of a room and use recessed lights around the perimeter for added layers of light. With this combination, you'll be able to create an inviting atmosphere without making your space too bright or overwhelming.

Related article: 13 different types of light fixtures and how to use them

Get the very best out of your pendant lights

Pendant lights can be intimidating, but, as you have just seen, they don't have to be. When you know where to use them and what size they should be, you're already halfway there. Then it's a matter of thinking about the look and aesthetic you want to create for your own personal preference which can be a really exciting journey. By being thorough with your process, you'll ensure you get the very best out of your pendant lights which will serve you well for years to come.