How to Pick a Dining Room Chandelier

One of the most frequent questions we receive from our clients is how to pick a dining room chandelier.  In most homes, this piece is the crown jewel of lighting.  The dining room chandelier is a statement piece that welcomes guests, lights up family celebrations, and sets the stage for gatherings large and small.  We no longer set aside formal dining rooms, instead maximizing use of a central space for homework, crafts, bookwork, and puzzles in addition to dining.  The right chandelier in your dining room will bring joy for all these uses for years to come; picking it can be simple if you break it down to a few elements, size, style and light.    

The dining room chandelier is a statement piece that welcomes guests, lights up family celebrations, and sets the stage for gatherings large and small.


Finding the perfect size chandelier generally requires a little bit of math and a little bit of vision.  To get an approximate size, start off by measuring your dining room (length, width and height).  Add the length and width in feet and transfer that to inches, this is the ideal chandelier diameter.  For example, in a room that is 13′ x 11′, the chandelier should have a diameter of 24″. If you have an open layout and the room is much larger than the dining space, measure the portion of the room that will be primarily used for dining.  Now look at your dining room table, it should be at least a foot wider than the chandelier, if not, you may need a slightly smaller chandelier. 

Diameter (in) = room height (ft) + room width (ft)

Maximum Length = room height – table height – 30″


Now measure the height of the table ( if you do not have a table yet, a good estimate is 30″).  Take your ceiling height and subtract the table height and 30″.  This number is the maximum length of your chandelier.  For instance if you have 10 ft ceilings (120″), your maximum chandelier length is 60″.  You may decide to have the chandelier a little more than 30″ above the table, for instance if the chandelier is bottom heavy, if you are very tall seated, or if you wish to use tall centerpieces.   When making these calculations, make sure to include the length of chain and canopy in your chandelier measurement.  On our website, we make sure that the Overall length of chandeliers includes canopy and the minimum amount of chain necessary for hanging. 


The dining room chandelier is a statement piece and should stand out but also make sense in the context of the rest of your home.  If you love the period of your home, you probably want to look for lighting of the same era, if your style is more eclectic, don’t worry about it.  You can also think of the chandelier as jewelry – If you have a love for something fancy in crystal or glass, you can generally make it work as long as the scale is appropriate.  Look for design elements that you love and wish to highlight, such as woodwork, an archway, a stained glass window or a cherished piece of furniture – you may find a chandelier that echoes these exact elements.  Stand in the room and figure out what else is in your sightlines,  can you see though to an entry chandelier or kitchen island pendants?  You don’t need to match these, in fact doing so may feel too prescribed – rather find an element of continuity, such as form, material, or metal finish between the fixtures.   


The amount and type of light your chandelier gives off will greatly effect your experience with it.  Installing a dimmer switch will allow you to have enough light for reading and low light for an intimate dinner.  Having multiple points of light will soften the effect.  The traditional multiarmed dining room chandelier is an example of spreading this light – the more arms the better.  you should also consider adding sconces or candelabra to a sideboard for more diffuse light.  If you are especially sensitive to glare, a fixture with glass shades,  switching to softer light bulbs or adding lampshades to exposed bulbs will help.   When looking at less traditional lanterns or pendants over the dining room table, think of them as a sculptural element – but make sure that you can get enough light without glare.