Ceiling Light Dilemmas: How’s It Hanging?

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.

 source

 

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.

 source

 

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.

source

 

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?

yellow white kitchen

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.

source

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!

 

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Heidi@warline.ca
9 years ago

LOL Kristie. This drives me batty. The light in my entry way is centred over the window and it looks bad from every angle; except when you look in the window (which is too high from the ground to look in).

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

Great post Kristie!! Homeowners always have questions about light fixture locations!
You’ve included some perfect tips!
Jennifer

amy@maison decor
9 years ago

Wow, first of all I have to say that is the second ship chandelier I have seen today…never noticed one before! Yes, center your fixtures and swag them if you must!

Noelle Warner
Noelle Warner
9 years ago

Love this article, Kristie! I also love how you swagged your chandelier in your kitchen. It think the swagging actually enhances your space there. What a shame about the last pic though. What a gorgeous room, but you are right. It feels off.

Thanks for always sharing!

Holiday
9 years ago

I agree on the swag, I had to do it in my dining room, the centered location looked great when looking through the opening into the room, but placing the table there made it impossible to walk through the room. A necessity, I’d say. Simple ceiling hook and swag.

Bigger problem (or maybe smaller?) is in the kitchen where the light it too close to the window and therefore not over the table’s center. Perhaps they imagined a more narrow table? In any event it’s a matter of inches, so a swag will not do. When/if I ever redo the ceiling in there, perhaps I will scootch it over. For now, though, I agree, it’s part of why the whole room is “off.” Little things matter.

Holly
Holly
9 years ago

Whew, I’m so glad you mentioned the swag. That’s what we did in our dining room because we did not want to rehang or rewire (plaster, ugh). So we’ve swagged so that the chandelier is centered on our eating area. Thanks for the advice Kristie – definitely something I will keep in mind for the future.

Frances
Frances
9 years ago

Loved the newspaper article. So glad you hitting the “BIG TIME”

Lezlie
Lezlie
9 years ago

Question about outdoor lighting, Kristie. Our porch light is currently just a few of inches off center from the door and also not exactly centered between the beams on the porch ceiling. The dilema is that the beams are not lined up exactly with the outside edges of the doorframe so the light is going to be off center a bit one way or the other. Which is the best guide for centering: the door or between the ceiling beams? Thanks, Lezlie

Lezlie Owsley
9 years ago

Thank you. You are beautiful in your newspaper pic!

Sheila Zeller
9 years ago

We have this dilemma in our dining area. Not sure what the builder was thinking, but the light fixture hangs out in no-man’s-land. We’re debating between swagging since we don’t own this home, or having the fixture moved properly and incorporating a medallion to cover the inevitable scar from the old hole. But… we don’t like the fixture either! So before we do anything we’re keeping our eyes open for a fixture that works for us, and then we’ll decide what the next step is…

Kelly
9 years ago

I love your breakfast nook!! Looks so cozy. I wonder too what the builder was thinking of when he hangs the light in such crazy places. I think the swag works best too.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago

What about “split” great rooms”? When we bought our house, there was a ceiling fan (an absolute must in the Gulf Coast) with a light kit centered in the middle that hangs at the same level as the bottom of the second floor balcony overlooking the great living room. It’s functional but doesn’t attract any attention – and my husband likes it that way because he wants people to focus being in the room, not looking upward at where they aren’t. He says ditto for being on the second floor looking toward the living room. What do YOU think, Kristie?

Mary
Mary
9 years ago

great topic! speaking of ceiling lights – what do you recommend for a small entry with 8 foot ceilings? Strictly flush mount? Thanks in advance.

Mary
Mary
9 years ago

Thanks for the recommendations. I also dislike boob lights. I found a semi-flush that is 10.5 inches high. Think I’ll give it a try.

Michelle at Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust

This is a great article that I wish builders were required to read. Oftentimes where I live, they don’t bother to put in overhead fixtures at all! Great job. BTW, I am hosting a giveaway for a BEAUTIFUL clock to thank my followers. Pop over if you’d like to enter. Good luck & thank you for reading!

Warmly, Michelle

Robin
Robin
9 years ago

Hi Kristie,

Recently discovered your blog via a pin and I’m so glad I did; everything I’ve read on your blog includes well explained fact-based design insight that homeowners could actually *apply* to their personal situation. I have a question about “plug in” (vs hard wired) hanging ceiling lights; I find this option acceptable because I prefer good lighting and placement over bad or none, but the hubby hates it because of the cord issue. Any clever tips for down playing / concealing that cord running snaking down the wall to the outlet?

Thanks
Robin @ happilyhomeafter.blogspot.com

Cameron
Cameron
9 years ago

I am in the middle of a mild remodeling project, and our dining area is in a roughly 12×12 space. This space between a 12×17 family space (creating a mild “L” shape) and a 12×12 kitchen area. The other two walls of the dining area are bisected almost perfectly at 6ft. An exterior door and window on one wall and a pantry area and HVAC closet on the other side. I envision the actual dining table to occupy the 6×12 space between the exterior window and the HVAC closet. However, I don’t really like the idea of offsetting the electrical box (for the hanging light feature) that far off center of the room. Would it be more or less appealing to center the box and then use a ceiling hook to move the hanging light roughly 3 ft.
Any input/advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

David
David
9 years ago

I found your article based on a current dilemma we are forced to decide on. We are doing a major reno which includes an addition to kitchen/FR (open concept). We created a large nook off the back of the working part of the kitchen to put the table. The architect designed the space 16′ wide x 7’8″ deep. There is a 6 foot slider to both ends that will lead to a patio. We have 8′ ceilings throughout home but wanted to add a tray in this area over the table. The space has now been framed out. Now that we see it in person and not on a blue print it is clear how poorly this room lays out. The frame of the tray overhangs the slider door by 18″ on one side and goes over the opposite door frame by the same. This makes the room appear completely misaligned. If we put the table 36″ off the back wall the center of the table and chandelier sit nearly 14″ off the center panel of the French door sliders (I would attach a pic if I could). IT appears to me the architect completely botched this and should have made the space 1-2′ deeper to align the doors, chandelier, tray ceiling and table to center.
The builder has suggested either removing the tray to minimize appearance of centerness (although light and table will still be off center to slider doors) or modify construction and cantilever the room 2′ over foundation to add 24″ to the room depth (thus 16 x 9’6″) enabling everything to appear centered. This modification will set us back $3,500. Is it worth the expense in the long run? I am inclined to do it as the room looks completely out of alignment, like looking at a crooked picture on a wall.
I wish I can send you a pic. We have to decide ASAP as construction is on hold. Plus, I am wondering of the architect has some liability. How could he design this new space and not consider alignment.

Gail
Gail
8 years ago

Where does one place a centrepiece/candles, etc., on a dining table when the chandelier and table do not line up? Unfortunately moving the chandelier is not a viable option at this time. The chandelier already has a medalion around it, so swagging the chain is not an option either. Should whatever is placed on the table line up with the chandelier, the centre of the table or should it just be off kilter to line up with nothing?

Linda
Linda
8 years ago

I have a different dilemna…..I moved my light from the center….it’s now centered on a round table. But now the buffet is centered on a wall….. it off centered off from the table. Now I’m trying to artwork on the opposite wall…..should it be centered on the buffet or the table?

Thanks for your help.

Cathy
Cathy
8 years ago

I agree that the chandelier needs to be swagged to hang directly over one’s dining table…however, can you suggest a ceiling hook application to suspend it 8 inches to the left of it’s current location IF there is no stud at that point? I don’t want to rip out any of the ceiling. I wouldn’t mind a creative solution like a piece of painted wood over a larger area???

Thanks for the help!!!

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

Hi Kristie!

Love the site and great advise! I am having an issue with my master bedroom. We have a trayed ceiling and the fixture is centered within that part; however, it isn’t centered on the bed. The light is at the foot and left edge of it. The bed pretty much needs to be located where it is at due to the design of the master suite. My question is, should the light be centered above the bed and then off on the ceiling or vice versa? We do have recessed lighting on the far left side of the bed leading into the bathroom. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks!

rhonda
rhonda
8 years ago

I have a question about the location of the ceiling fan in our great room. This is a 2 story room with a corner fireplace. It has a wall of windows along one side. The wall of windows is not centered on this wall due to the corner fireplace. The center of the room and the center of the wall of windows is off by 2′-5″. Should the ceiling fan be hung in the center of the room or should it be offset from center 2.5ft which would be centered over the wall of windows.
Thanks
Rhonda

KG
KG
7 years ago

Would you please not post my email address??thanks!

Thank you for this thoughtful article. I have a similar where-to-put the light dilemma.

Kitchen is being renovated to incorporate an eating nook with a bumpout. The bumpout will be highly symmetrical with three windows straight across it. And a big deep banquette/window seat in the bumpout. Banquette seating is at the top of the table. So far it seems obvious to put the light fixture in the dead centre, centered over the middle window, right?

But the width of the dining nook is going to be about 8.5 feet. So a bit tight to have chairs on both sides of the table. There needs to be sufficient space to the left of the table since it serves double duty–stools pull up to the peninsula/bar. I do not plan to use the stools when we are using the chairs at the table, but just so you know that it cannot get too tight in there.

So this leaves two options:
1. Symmetry and squoosh–center table on the window and have a narrow table and two narrow areas, one on each side of the table for chairs. OR

2. Have a second banquette on the right (now forming an L with the banquette in the windowseat) and have extra room on the left side of the table (for access to the stools for the peninsula/bar). However, this means the table is not centered on the windows but is pushed off center to the right. Now there is a strong architectural element (windows in bumpout) calling for a light in the center. But if placed there, the light will hang right at the edge of the table. Or center light over table and be irked each time by the asymmetry (it would be in an awkward spot to the right (probably not even centered on the trim between two of the windows).

Can lights have been suggested but I do not love them. 1880s house so was hoping to keep them to a minimum. Thought about sconces all around the edges but the design started getting fussy and I do love the light cast by a central light fixture over a table.

help!

Carmen Rodriguez
Carmen Rodriguez
7 years ago

Hello did u use a big hook? I’m afraid of hanging mine thinking it mite fall

joshua
joshua
7 years ago

Hi Kristie, thanks for the article! My bedroom has a pitched ceiling and the contractor has hung a ceiling fan and 2 globe lights dead centre. However, 1 side of the room is taken up by 600mm depth of wardrobe space and the bed cannot be placed in the centre. The fan and lights look off. Should we move the fan and globe lights to be in alignment with the centre of the bed? Your advice is greatly appreciated!

Meg
Meg
7 years ago

New kitchen going to be done. Have an 8 foot ceiling. Fell in love with a light that is 31inches in height. Is it ok to hang fixture directly from ceiling with no chain over the kitchen table? Thanks for your answer

Apryl
Apryl
7 years ago

Kristie, Help! I have a beautiful crystal chandelier that I want to hang over my dining table with a ceiling medallion…the problem is that my ceiling is peaked and the chandelier hangs exactly centered on the peak). How do I install a medallion at the peak of the ceiling? When the electrician suggested we center the chandelier, it seemed to make sense, but now I realize it was a bad idea. Any suggestions?

Apryl
Apryl
7 years ago

Help! I have a beautiful crystal chandelier that I want to hang over my dining table with a ceiling medallion…the problem is that my ceiling is peaked and the chandelier hangs exactly centered on the peak). How do I install a medallion at the peak of the ceiling? When the electrician suggested we center the chandelier, it seemed to make sense, but now I realize it was a bad idea. Any suggestions?

Crysta
Crysta
7 years ago

My foyer chandelier is centered in the room but not with the two story window. Should it be moved over to be placed in the window center or left? It would need moved over approximately 9 inches. The foyer closet and my sons closet (over foyer closet) is throwing it off!

darren knudsen
darren knudsen
5 years ago

I have a kitchen 3 pendant light that has an offset base that needs to be replaced. The problem is, I cant find a replacement light fixture that has an offset base. All the ones I seen, and i have seen hundreds, have the base centered. Any ideas, sources?

Kathy
Kathy
5 years ago

My issue is trying to buy a larger fixture for over my island where the light is centered over cooktop instead of island. I am looking at the Sloan dbl shade, linear fixture but it is way larger than what I had up their so don’t know if it will look odd. I have coffered ceiling and the hole is in the beam. Cannot move it anywhere else or it would be off centered in the ceiling. The new light is 54 inches with the shades 11.5×15.5 by Visual Comforts.

Lois Wallace
5 years ago

my ceiling light in my kitchen by my sink is not centered what type of a fixture should I buy that maybe stretchs on both side or just some ideas

Jill
Jill
5 years ago

I have two new pendant lights over my new island. The problem is the glass domes do not hang evenly… Like the weight of the glass dome makes one side hang lower than the other side. What can I do to remedy this problem?

Laura
Laura
5 years ago

My pendants over the kitchen island are not even. One is set 12.5 inches in from the end of the island and the other is in 15 inches from the other side of the island. The island is not huge and after the builder put them in, I could tell from 25 feet away one was closer to the edge than the other. My husbans can not tell but I did the first time I saw them. Any ideas without moving the pendant 2.5 inches on a vaulted ceiling? Thanks.

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

Hello. Can someone give me some lighting style advice please? I’m really keen on a rectangular ceiling light I’ve seen which is designed to hang over the dining table. However the dining table isn’t in the centre of the room, so the light would need to be hung at about a third of the width of the room. Will this look ridiculous? Many thanks for your advice

Ellen
Ellen
4 years ago

Please refer to the attached picture. I would like to install a chandelier above a dining table–round or rectangular. However, there will be an alignment problem on the ceiling. I inserted arrows for different placement possibilities. It may require installation within the tray. Would this be a mistake? Any suggestions?

linda
linda
4 years ago

In the kitchen when there is a cabinet, do you center light from cabinet or on ceiling?

Lisa
Lisa
4 years ago

Hi my issue is my kitchen is cathedraled and my island is not centered to the room. the room is irregular. The cabinets are longer on one side than the other. I am thinking to hang fixture centered to the ceiling ? What do you think ?

Denise Warner
4 years ago

I can not leave my dining room table extended all the time due to room size. My chandelier is centered around the 4 size table. When I have more then 4 people over and I add a leaf to my table my chandelier is no longer centered. What options could I do? Thanks

Denise Warner
4 years ago

Thank you for your reply. That is what i do now. In the day of the swag lamps I had an extra hook to attach the light to when the table was closed and unhook when it was open but now I do just leave it.

Jennifer Toenjes
Jennifer Toenjes
4 years ago

Hi! I want to place a narrow dining table in front of these windows. (They will soon have craftsman style trim/framing). We just moved and are renovating. SO I was thinking while the electrician is here he could also install a new place for lighting. the table could be centered with the window, but it will be tight when opening the door. I plan to have a bench on one side and two seats opposite. I would have 2 different chairs on each ends doing double duty elsewhere in the house and only have pulled up when needed. Realistically having the table centered isn’t the best use of space. We will use this table
For meals very little. WHere do I place the light?? I don’t want it to look weird. The rest of the room is open living room/family room where a lot of time is spent. I currently have a large drum shade that I love and would like to use, but am open to others. Thanks!!

Jennifer Toenjes
Jennifer Toenjes
4 years ago

We don’t have a lot of space, but I will do some measuring and see if that may work out! THank you! Gosh I didn’t realize how dark my image was until I viewed on my computer. Sorry, I was on my phone at the time.

abi
3 years ago

I really love the red chandelier here – it looks amazing! The colour combinations you have are incredible 🙂 My partner and I found a Floz chandelier that we love – it is black and we really want it but are unsure of the colour combination we should go for, as our living room is quite small! We’ve got dark brown sofas (they hide the never ending cat fur!) what schemes would you recommend? Thank you so much !

Tina
Tina
3 years ago

When we were doing our renovations I knew the current location of the lighting was an issue – the chandelier was hung directly in the middle of the kitchen/dining area – through the walkway. I asked our electrician to back it up closer to the window so that there would be at least a 36″ path through the kitchen without smacking our heads on the lights (we only have 8ft ceilings) and thought that would solve the problem. Fast forward a month, when our new dining table was delivered – we now have the chandelier (it’s more like 6 pendant lights hung in a row) aligned with the edge of the table – still not centered! We’ve already patched the ceiling and because of the type of light it can’t really be swagged. Does anyone have any suggestions? I can’t push the table forward without encroaching on the walking path from the kitchen through the dining to the living room (it’s all open floor plan). Would it be terrible to leave it as is? For more clarification, we have a bench seat against the windows and the dining table in front of it, surrounded by chairs on three sides. Currently, the chandelier hangs even with the edge of the dining table closest to the chairs.

sarah
sarah
3 years ago

So glad I found this blog, I am having the same problem right now. We are redoing out dinning room. Lighting is an issue for me the room is square and our front door is in the center of the room so off setting the dinning room table makes sense. There is no lighting on the ceilings so I can put anything anywhere. Do I off set the light over the dinning room table and fill in the lighing with possible can lighting? or do I put the light in the center of the room and the table be off? Or forget the light over the table and just use can lighting around the room? Thank you

Wendy
Wendy
3 years ago

I have a dining room with a bay window at one end. The long wall has two sconces that are centered on the wall including the length of the bay window. The chandelier, however is centered in the room without including the bay window dimensions. Drives me crazy! Should I move the chandelier, or the sconces?

moma
moma
3 years ago

HI Kristie

I am so fortunate that I I found this blog. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t find the answer that I wanted. I have a designer dilemma. I have a rectangular skylight and a rectangular dining table. But, they are not exactly aligned the correct way and I don’t have a way to align them. The skylight is 1/3rd offset. We really want a chandelier. Should the chandelier be centered in the skylight or the dining table? If it is the dining table centered, the skylight will be 1/3rd into the skylight. Please let me know, it would make my super picky husband very happy. Should I send a picture?

Rachel Klein
Rachel Klein
2 years ago
Reply to  moma

I would skip a chandelier in this case. Just do some spotlights around the room. Much cleaner looking in this case. Or, if you can move the table to a different area of the room not under the skylights. If you want to add some ambience, maybe hang some sconces on a wall, to dress up the space instead of a chandelier. And put a tall centerpiece on the table to add height.

Chauntell
Chauntell
3 years ago

Hello Kristie,
I’m looking at buying a black sheer rectangular light with crystals hanging down for my dining room but just remembered that I have to swag it so that it hands over the center of the table. It’s suposed to be wired from the center and has two aditional suport wires on each side. My question is, would this light look ok swaged? It sways to the front of the light. Thx

Rachel Klein
Rachel Klein
2 years ago

Hi, I chanced upon your article while searching for info on hanging chandeliers. I’m wondering how you feel about 2 story foyers. It has a staircase with a balcony on one side. I want to hang a chandelier. Question is, do I center it to the bottom floor, or to the opening between the 2 stories. If I center it to the opening, by the balcony, it won’t be centered when I walk through the front door, since the balcony is projecting on one side, making the opening smaller on one side. So would you center to main floor, or to balcony opening?

Dan
Dan
2 years ago

Lighting dilemma – when we are not entertaining our dining table (with two chairs) is positioned against the wall and not centered to the dining room light fixture. The light is properly positioned to be centered when the table is moved away from the wall to accommodate four chairs. Does anyone make a lighting fixture that is adjustable (slides?) so we can center the light in either table position. I would estimate the different lighting positions are approximately 14″ apart. Thanks!

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