How to do pendant lights

Our guide to using pendant ceiling lights effectively around your home.

In brief
Used right, pendants supply a balanced mix of ambient and task lighting.  

They cast functional, localised pools of light, and paired with dimmable bulbs and retractive switches, they’ll add plenty of easily adjustable atmosphere too.  
Where to use them  
Our Richmond pendant is the same size as its medium fixed wall light equivalent; a design we introduced to create more of an impact in larger spaces.  

That said, it’s not nearly as large as many of the statement pendants on the market, so it’ll work best when grouped together, or when used alone to highlight smaller areas.  

Arguably the most popular place to use pendants is above a kitchen island – or a dining table.  

When you’re lighting one area like this, the right number of fixtures will depend on both the task at hand and the scale, but as a rule of thumb, an odd number like three or five tends to look most balanced and visually pleasing.  

If you don’t have an island, there’s no reason why you can’t drop a pendant over a kitchen cabinet or sink to ring the changes and create an interesting design feature.  

A single pendant can also function as a space-saving replacement for a table lamp; be it over a desk, reading chair or coffee table. 

A matching pair, meanwhile, will happily frame a bed or bathroom washstand – even a sofa.  

And in the hallway, groups can be used to illuminate the length of the space or the stairwell.  

Alternatively, if your home’s entrance way is more modest in size, or you have a porch in need of lighting, just one pendant will prove both practical and eye-catching.  
How to hang them 
If you’re suspending your pendants above an island or table, you’ll want to make sure they’re positioned high enough so they don’t interrupt the line of sight, but not so high that the bulb’s glare is dazzling.  

Pendants are normally hung so that the bottom of the shade is about 70-100cm above the table or work surface. 

In other words, you want the base of the pendant to hang just above eye level.  

The same rule of thumb applies to bedside tables. Anything lower than this and you run the risk of bumping your head when you reach over to grab something.  

If you’ve opted to hang your pendants on either side of a vanity unit, positioning them roughly 170cm above the floor will ensure the light’s diffused evenly over your face when you look in the mirror.  

If your pendants are placed over a walkway, hang them at least 213cm from the ground to the base of your pendant so that there’s sufficient head-height clearance.  

And when grouping pendants in a row, 45cm is the minimum amount of space you’ll likely want to keep between each light, regardless of its size.  

This is, of course, only a guide and your positioning should be informed by the height and size of each space and your personal preferences.  
Brass, glass or fine porcelain?  

Your choice of shade will, ultimately, be determined by the direction and intensity of light you’re looking to achieve.  

A solid brass shade will funnel your pendant’s output downwards over a specific surface. 

In contrast, a glass shade will cast a wider, less focused pool.  

You can still use it for task lighting, but the beam will be projected upward as well as down. Ours has vertical grooves that help soften the light that’s emitted. 

Our fine porcelain shade, meanwhile, probably provides the mellowest, most atmospheric glow with absolutely no glare.   
Lastly, as with our wall lights and spots, we’d always suggest putting your pendants on dimmers to give you control over the amount of light you need for any given task, and for relaxing too. 

And by using retractive switches, you can have as many of them on one circuit as you need. 

Ready to browse and buy? Explore our solid brass and fluted glass ceiling pendants in three finishes here.