Chandeliers 101 – choosing, sizing & history


Chandeliers have been hanging around for a long time.

Since 14th century France to be exact, where they adorned Medieval churches & abbeys.

Choosing one for your home can be intimidating, as chandys can be expensive & are a focal point.

That’s the idea right? – Right! – so you want to get it right!!

Follow my suggestions & you will… 

Chandeliers 101 a guide

Guidelines for choosing a chandelier:

  • The height of a chandelier should be equal to 2.5 – 3 inches for every foot of ceiling height.  So if you have a 10 foot ceiling your chandelier should be 25 to 30 inches in height.
  • The diameter of a chandelier should be the length plus the width of the room taken in inches.  So if your room is 15 feet by 12 feet, your chandelier should be 27 inches in diameter.
  • The diameter of a chandelier over a table should be 1/2 to 2/3 the width of the table.
  • The bottom of the chandelier should be 30 inches from the surface of the table.  For ceilings over 8 feet high add 3 inches per foot, so it doesn’t appear to hang oddly low.
  • The bottom of a chandelier in a foyer or elsewhere without furniture under it should be 7 feet from the ground to allow for the comfort of even the tallest guest. ( unless you party with the NBA, then hang accordingly )

Chandelier Restoration Hardware

Keep in mind when choosing a chandelier:

  • purpose of it – focal point, entry, over a dining table or a bed
  • the height of the ceiling
  • type of lighting you want to achieve
  • generally bigger is better than smaller

Chandeliers 101 a guide

The light from a chandelier is so lovely & yet, it can be bright.  For me all the world should be on dimmers.  

Make it a law as far as I am concerned. A chandelier not on a dimmer is a crime in my book.  

So add – install dimmer once chandelier is properly hung – to your list.

Chandeliers 101 a guide

While basking in the glow of the faceted light of your expertly hung chandelier consider these bits of history.

You know I love the history of everything – of you too, so feel free to add in a tid bit about yourself in the comments!

After popping up in all the best churches & abbeys in the 14th century, chandeliers began to trickle down to the regular population.  

Ok, it took awhile, but in the 16th century having one or more in your home was a sure sign of wealth.  

Chandeliers 101 a guide

The 16th century chandys were purely decorative or lit with candles of course.  Before 1860 they all had solid arms.  

Lead crystal was added to chandeliers in the 1700s for the light reflecting qualities. Nice touch! 

Chandeliers 101 a guide

After 1860 the arms were made hollow to allow for gas.  At that time chandeliers were hung by a rod not a chain to allow the gas to be pumped thru.  

So if you find a dusty looking chandy with a rod for a chain at a yard sale. Grab it!

Do you know how to tell if the crystals are in fact glass & not plastic?

Weight would be a clue, but you can tell most clearly if when holding the ‘crystal” it gets colder in your hand.  

Chandeliers 101 a guide

So darn pretty it is hard to choose one, but now you are equipped with information that will help you narrow down the choices of chandelier for your space.

Hope this information helps you add sparkle to your home! 

** Kelly **

The chandeliers pictured here are available at Restoration Hardware, Gold Dust Goods @Etsy, Le Moulin Bleu @Etsy, Lights Fantastic @Etsy, Gold Dust Goods @Etsy and the bronze one in the collage is from French Wave @Etsy.