Sizing Your Fixtures – The Light Hangar Company

Sizing Your Fixtures

Simple, Not Plain
March 26, 2019
Understanding Color Temperature
November 13, 2019

By Laura Davis, Owner of The Light Hangar Company

You may know the exact style, finish and place for a light fixture to complete your remodel or adorn your new home – but let’s face it, size can be a real challenge. And when it comes to selecting the right lighting, size matters. So how do you determine what is the appropriate sized fixture to buy?


There is a general rule of thumb for sizing the appropriate diameter for fixtures. I certainly caution this as a guideline and not a hardfast rule.

Step 1: Measure the length and width of the room (in feet).

Step 2: Add those numbers together.

Step 3: Use the total in inches to determine the appropriate diameter of the fixture.

(Example: 10.5 by 12 foot room = 10.5+12= 22.5 inches)

Light fixtures come in a wide variety of materials, styles and colors so the design of the light may actually affect how large or small it appears. Fixtures with complex designs can appear larger than they really are. This needs to be taken into consideration as well as the size.

The table under the chandelier should serve as a guide for selecting the right sized fixture for your space. To calculate the correct width for your chandelier, start with the width of your table and subtract 12 inches. This number will give you an idea of the right length of the chandelier. Based on a standard 8-foot ceiling, your fixture should hang at least 30 inches above the table. For every additional foot of ceiling height, add 3 inches to the height from the table.

A popular style in the dining room these days is to use multiple chandeliers or pendants to style a longer table. The same spatial rules apply as above to the total width of the fixtures. To position the fixtures, always start from the center point and measure outwards with even spacing in between. 

For bedrooms, hallways and other places that wall sconces are used, these fixtures should be positioned at least 74 inches from the floor. These fixtures should be placed high enough so that the tallest resident (or visitor) would not be able to see down into the top of the fixture.

While there are so many things to consider when selecting the right fixtures, size really does matter. Check back with us for next month’s article. It will detail guidelines for kitchen islands, foyers and bathrooms.

Kitchen islands are a popular new feature and one that needs some attention when designing. Pendants are perfect for adding lighting over the surface and giving your home an updated look. When sizing pendants, you should space them about 24-30 inches apart. Small islands (4-5 ft. long) can handle 1 large or 2 medium pendants.  Larger islands can certainly accommodate more.  For large islands with 3 pendants, you will want to find the middle of the island and then space the other pendants at least 30 inches apart on each side. 

An entryway is a guest’s first impression of your home, and chandeliers often play a huge role. You want to choose a chandelier that reflects your style and is the right size for your space. A small light will look dwarfed, while a chandelier that is too large can overpower a room. The two important measurements to take into consideration when choosing the correct size are: height and diameter. The rule of thumb is you need 3 inches of chandelier height for each foot of ceiling height while maintaining at least 84 inches(when possible) from the floor as to not interfere with the door or people passing underneath. For two story floors with windows, consider centering the fixture in the window when looking in from the outside.

Bathrooms are a place where people want the most light to get ready.  If your light is above the mirror, the width of your fixture should be at least 1/3 the width of the vanity mirror, but never exceed its total width. If you have multiple sinks or a long mirror, you may want to mount two separate fixtures, one above each sink. A popular option these days is to position fixtures on both sides of the mirror. This is the best way to provide shadow-free lighting for your face. Not all bathroom remodels can accommodate this option, but lighting professionals have agreed that this gives the best light for getting ready versus down lighting. 

When figuring what type of ceiling light to use, the height of the ceiling will be the determining factor. If your ceiling height is 8 feet or less (standard height), a flush mount or semi-flush will leave enough head room clearance for people walking under the light. This is the more important factor when sizing ceiling lights.

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