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What are the Advantages of Pendant Lighting?

By Andrea Campbell
Updated May 16, 2024
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Interior designers and consumers are turning to pendant lighting in almost any style of home or office. Typically, home builders often add one ceiling fixture in the middle of a room and call it finished. Pendant lights can help to break that monotony with style, and one of the best things about them is they don’t leave a “footprint” or take up valuable tabletop space. This makes them the ideal fixture over a kitchen sink for washing dishes, or over a bathroom vanity where horizontal space is minimal, yet the light needed for the task is still so important.

Think of pendants as providing a bigger pool of light, too, because it is often light directed down, illuminating a larger area. Most commonly considered as task lighting, pendant lights provide a decent-sized wash of light for eating, working at a desk, or playing billiards. Another important feature for larger homes is that pendant lighting can be used to bridge high ceilings. Because the fixture is normally suspended by a cord, pendants can be hung in a huge foyer with a 20-foot ceiling and not only make the light more accessible, but it brings the light down to where the guests are. Generally though, pendant lights are hung 32 to 40-inches over a work surface.

Traditionally pendant lighting was thought of only as contemporary lighting, but today there are inverted pendants that would fit in with classical furniture and decor befitting Queen Anne to Louis XIV. Designers look to use pendants in groupings as well and they might choose to hang three pendant lights over a breakfast bar to add a punch of color to an otherwise dull area.

People often feel more comfortable with pendant lighting because it is soft, like a decorative spotlight, but not as harsh. With colored glass shades you can reflect a glow on both objects and people. And the variety of pendant sizes—from a wineglass-sized light to a gigantic vertical shade—means you can sculpt the area overhead just as if it were art. Plus, pendant lights help to divide up the space in a large room by creating multiple task areas. For example, a great room can have pendants over the dining table, in a bar area, and again, over a desk or computer corner. And pendant lighting often comes in sets to coordinate nicely.

So, from fixtures that look cool like otherworldly satellites, to old-school Tiffany shades with butterflies, Murano glass, or even old world style lanterns, pendant lighting can make an updated statement in almost any decor. And there are optional track lighting systems for pendants that help to accommodate a larger expanse of space. The custom look that pendants provide can be had for a reasonable price point too; in most cases they cost no more than a traditional lamp.

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