What Is a Chandelier?

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Sep 27, 2017 | Networx Team

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The right chandelier will add a beautifully dramatic lighting element to your home. Known for enhancing the appearance of a living room or dining area, chandeliers create a soft, glowing atmosphere similar to candlelight.

What is a Chandelier?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a chandelier as "a branched, decorative lighting fixture that holds a number of bulbs or candles and is suspended from a ceiling." In the interest of fire safety, today's chandeliers rarely hold candles, but they still impart an incomparable ambiance. The type of chandelier you choose will depend on your decorating scheme, the scale of your room, and the electrical outlets available.

Popular Chandelier Types

  1. Crystal – For elegant style, choose a shimmering crystal chandelier. Its glittering crystals make a dramatic decor statement.

  2. Glass – Who says your chandelier can’t be casual? Use a glass chandelier to create a design focus that’s as modern and breezy as you wish.

  3. Tiffany – A type of glass chandelier, Tiffany fixtures feature stained glass shades in the Art Nouveau fashion of the early 20th century.

  4. Candle – A candle chandelier is the most traditional variety. Its candle-shaped lightbulbs evoke the original meaning of the word chandelier, French for “candleholder.”

  5. Drum -- Named for their iconic shape, drum chandeliers feature a stylish combination of branches and a cylindrical shade, usually made of fabric.

  6. Neoclassical – Perhaps the most ornate style, a neoclassical chandelier is notable for its plethora of delicate details.

  7. Industrial – Yes, industrial chic chandeliers are a thing. They feature bold geometric shapes, exposed bulbs, and sturdy metal construction.

How To Install A Chandelier

  • Position a dining room chandelier in line with the center of your table.

  • Purchase a chandelier approximately one foot narrower than the dining table’s width.

  • Hang the fixture 30-34” over the table, in a room with an 8’ ceiling. For a loftier ceiling, mount the chandelier 3” higher for each additional foot of ceiling height.

  • In a spacious foyer or living room, choose a chandelier which is broader and longer than fixtures for use in a dining room.

  • Check that the ceiling electrical box can support the weight of your chosen chandelier. Otherwise, replace it with a heavy-duty box or add a fan brace to your ceiling.

  • Try your hand at do-it-yourself installation if you’re confident that you know how to wire a chandelier. (And refresh your knowledge with our handy article, How to Wire a Chandelier.)

  • Don’t be embarrassed should you feel a tad too challenged by working with electricity while hoisting a 100-pound light fixture up to the ceiling. If you’re more the armchair supervisor than the hands-on DIY type, hire a professional electrician to install your chandelier ... and upgrade the electrical system too, if need be. 

Chandelier Installation FAQs

Q. How do I decide on the right size chandelier?

A. Keep it in proportion to the space where you’ll hang it. Generally, a 17-24” chandelier diameter is ideal for a small room, 24-30” for a medium room, and 28-48” for a large to very large room.

Q. Can I install a chandelier in my new luxury master bathroom?

A. Proceed with caution. Ensure you have sufficient clearance, as per the building code (a light fixture over your bath must, at its lowest point, be a minimum of 8 feet above the tub’s edge). Buy a chandelier UL-approved for damp conditions. And if you haven’t already done so, install a GFCI in your bathroom.

Q. How do I clean my chandelier?

A. Always remember to turn off the electricity before cleaning a chandelier. If dusting won't suffice, put down some old newspaper and spray the light fixture with a weak mixture of dish detergent and warm water.

Q. How can I control the intensity of my chandelier?

A. Try adding shades to chandelier candelabra bulbs or a wall dimmer to help you control the light and set a more flattering mood.

Q. I don’t have time to learn how to wire a chandelier. Is there a simple DIY I can do to make the chandelier installation feel more “me”?

A. Consider dressing up your chandelier chain. Dress up the hanging wire by covering it in a narrow sleeve of fabric. The sleeve should be three times the length of the wire for a gathered look.

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