A Chandelier is a branched, multi-arm, decorative, often ornate, mounted light fixture that is suspended from a ceiling and holds a number of bulbs. The word ‘chandelier’ is old French and means “candle holder”. While the basic form has stayed the same, the advent of electricity has allowed more creativity in both design and placement.
Hanging fixtures have a dual purpose. They illuminate a room and provide aesthetic appeal to it, by bringing beauty and personality. Chandeliers are without doubt, the most dainty, elegant and beautiful among lighting fixtures. The right Chandelier can transform a room and certainly add value to your home. To help you in planning the right placement of the chandelier light fixture in your home, as an Architect, I have listed guidelines for it under the following headings:
Where are chandeliers used?
What illumination does a chandelier provide?
What are the styles of chandeliers available?
How do you select the right chandelier?
How do you install a chandelier?
How do you maintain a chandelier?
WHERE ARE CHANDELIERS USED?
Large rooms like living rooms, banquet halls are often highlighted with a beautiful Chandelier which then becomes the focal point. But, with the variety of sizes and styles available today, Chandeliers are showing up all over the house – over your vanity or desk, in the breakfast nook, as a bed side light, etc.
WHAT ILLUMINATION DOES A CHANDELIER PROVIDE?
Chandeliers are a great source of ‘general illumination’. With the use of a dimmer switch, you can also create the mood and atmosphere you want, whether it be a gentle cascade of light over a romantic dinner party or a bright light on a lively family dinner. Many Chandeliers are also designed with a down light, so they also work as ‘task lighting’ for activities such as doing homework or paying bills at the table.
WHAT ARE THE STYLES OF CHANDELIERS AVAILABLE?
Chandeliers are available in a wide variety of styles, from simple, modern Chandeliers to more ornate, traditional Chandeliers. Today’s Chandeliers have moved beyond the functional need of providing illumination and have become a beautiful focal point during the day as well as at night. Chandeliers are designed to fit into almost any decor. Below are a few style choices:
Victorian/crystal Chandeliers: To add elegance and glamour to your home, you can add a crystal Chandelier to your home even though you do not live in a Victorian mansions. In fact, if you have a formal dining area or a piano, you can hang a crystal Chandelier.
Rustic Chandeliers: For today’s single men, there are Chandeliers designed with a more rugged look such as antler Chandeliers which bring the hunting lodge feel or a bent-branch Chandelier if you have even one bent-branch chair. Wood beam chandeliers go well with rough-hewn stone walls.
Contemporary Chandeliers: When most people think of modern lighting, they cannot imagine Chandeliers because they have conventionally been very ornate and decorative. However, nowadays there are lots of modern styled Chandeliers available such as chrome starburst designs and cylindrical designs.
HOW DO YOU SELECT THE RIGHT CHANDELIER?
Selecting the right Chandelier to suit the decor of a house should be done with care. Unlike lamps that one can move around, Chandeliers are more permanent. Hence, the right style, right size, proper positioning and right wattage must be considered for the Cahndelier to work well and look good. With a wide range of designs, finishes and styles of Chandeliers available today, it is easier to find the perfect one that matches your home.
Right Style: To help determine the right style of Chandelier, take pictures of your rooms and pictures of your favorite pieces in that room. Now go to one or two lighting gallerys with the pictures. Check out the lighting styles available and pick a few that seem to fit in with your pictures. Now take pictures of those Chandeliers and other hanging lights and take them home. Review your pictures while keeping the size, the brightness and the price of the Chandelier in mind.
Right Size: One must consider the proportion between the size of the room and the size of the Chandelier. A Chandelier that is too small for a room will look isolated. On the other hand, one that is too large for a room will dominate. To help you find the right size of the Chandelier, add together the length and width of the room in feet. The sum you get is the diameter in inches of the Chandelier. For example: A room of size 14′ x 14′ can have a 24″ to 36″ Chandelier. In a dining room, select a Chandelier with a diameter that is 12 inches smaller than the width of your dining table.
Right positioning: When positioning the Chandelier, make sure that it provides adequate lighting in its location, without blinding the guests. Dimmer switches are often used on Chandeliers for this reason. Chandeliers should be placed at least 8 feet above the floor in the middle of the room for safety and style. If there is a window above the front doors in the foyer, center the Chandelier in the foyer so it can be seen from outside. In a dining room, the Chandelier must be centred above the dining table and the bottom should be at least 30 inches above the tabletop to prevent heads from bumping and for good illumination.
Wattage: When choosing a Chandelier, the total wattage should be 200 watts to 400 watts to provide sufficient light. It is better to have 40 watt bulbs to prevent excessive heat, especially in dining rooms. To calculate the exact wattage, then multiply the length by the width of the room in feet and multiply that number by 1.5. The answer you get is the amount of wattage you need to light the room properly for general illumination. For example: In a room, 12 ft. x 16 ft., multiply 12 x 16 = 192. Then multiply 192 x 1.5 = 288 watts. This means an 8-light chandelier using 40-watt bulbs will give 320 watts, which is more than the light needed.
HOW DO YOU INSTALL A CHANDELIER?
To ensure a new light will be securely supported, the ceiling electrical box must be checked before you begin the installation of the Chandelier. When hanging over a dining table, the Chandelier must be aligned with the center of the dining table. If the electrical connection on the ceiling is not aligned with the center of the dining table, add a heavy-duty decorative hook on the ceiling, exactly above the table center, and then attach a length of chain to carry the wiring from the electrical connection to the hook.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A CHANDELIER?
It is always a good idea to clean the Chandelier at least once a year to maintain its beauty and shine. Before you start with the cleaning process, the light bulbs must be switched off for at least 10 minutes so the bulbs can cool down. You must never clean the Chandelier while the lights are on as it could either cause a burnt hand or electrocution. If the pieces have to be dismantled, you must do so in sections or draw up a picture of how the components fit together, to mitigate any frustration and confusion when the pieces have to be reassembled together. Also place a blanket under the Chandelier to catch any pieces of it that may fall. Keep the Chandelier in the same place as you clean and do not turn it around as this may strain the power cable.
A Chandelier is a ceiling fixture and is often confused with another ceiling fixture, the “Pendant”. Read about the “Pendant’ here:
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