Don’t you wish builders would use a little forethought when they install ceiling light fixtures? Aargh. Most builders hang ceiling light fixtures in the dead center of each room. Is that where they should be hung? Not always.
Just because someone installed the light in the middle of the room doesn’t mean that’s where it SHOULD be. Yesterday, a reader sent me a FaceBook message: “When one installs a banquette in the dining room along one wall, pushes the table up to it, and aligns chairs at either end and the other side of the table, where does one hang the light fixture? Centered over the table or centered in the room?”
Breakfast Room in Southern Living Showhouse – photo by Kristie Barnett
Ceiling light fixtures should always hang dead-center on the most important architecture of the room. Like dead-center to the fireplace, where ideally your conversation area should be situated. Whenever possible, ceiling lighting should also be centered on windows and doors that are architecturally-significant.
If there is a bump-out in part of the room or if the room is L-shaped, that can change everything and needs to be considered in your interior lighting design. Particularly in a large or L-shaped room, you may need multiple ceiling lights hung over different areas of the room where seating or dining occur. If you don’t have this, you can easily hang your own ceiling light fixtures with long cords that can plug into the wall. There are lots of plug-in options in drum shade fixtures.
To answer my reader’s question: the ceiling light needs to hang over the dining or breakfast table rather than in the center of the room, unless you have a secondary ceiling light hanging over the table. If you can’t rehang or rewire the chandelier, simply screw in a ceiling hook above your table and swag the light fixture (you may need to add more chain). That’s how we solved the banquette dilemma in my own kitchen. See how the chain is swagged here?
The Decorologist’s Breakfast Nook for Gatherings Magazine
Your lighting should always be centered over your conversation or dining area. If not, your room will always look “off” no matter what you do. As much as I love the image of the room below, it doesn’t feel quite right because the table and chandelier aren’t centered on the fireplace. However, the fireplace is in an odd place in the room – which makes it impossible to center the table on the fireplace. In this case, the center of the table wins out over centering it on the fireplace.
So ultimately, the placement of conversational seating and your dining table should dictate where ceiling lights or chandeliers should hang. As part of good interior decorating, it may be worth having those hanging light fixtures moved so that your space feels “right.” Or you can try the ceiling hook method and swag the fixture where it needs to be. Either way, you’d be surprised what a difference it can make!