The smaller the light, the smaller the impact, right? Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ll show you how to use small to medium-sized pendant lights, on their own or with other pendants, to create an unforgettable look which perfectly suits your hallway, dining area, bedroom or bathroom…
Here at The Light Yard, we’ve made pendant lights and outdoor bollard lights the cornerstones of our offering, so we know a thing or two about how to design lighting schemes with pendants as our primary tool.
Why choose pendant lighting?
Let’s go all the way back to the schoolhouse pendant lights of the 1920s, when bare bulbs encased in opaque glass globes were installed widely in classrooms, libraries, courthouses and kitchen ceilings. These pendant lights were both attractive and practical – marked by clean lines and featuring shades which diffused light softly but effectively. From that time, pendant lights became a popular choice, used anywhere good task and ambient light was needed.
Over time, white flared globes gave way to more elaborate designs, adding strips of colour, taking on more geometric forms and incorporating fancier metal fittings. Today, pendant lights come in a few basic forms: those with closed shades, which work to soften light and hide the bulb inside; those with shades that are open on the bottom, which create bright spots beneath them; and pendant lights with open tops, such as drum shades, which bounce light off the ceiling.
Styling your pendant lights
First, you’ll need to make a lighting plan, taking into consideration factors including: the size of the area or room, the places where you’ll need task lighting, and the height of the ceiling. If your open-plan room is subdivided into areas according to different purposes, such as the kitchen (food preparation), breakfast bar, dining area and living area, your lights should address the ambient and task lighting needs of each, while working together to create a joined-up look. This doesn’t mean using the same light throughout, but choosing luminaires which are made from the same materials, have the same finish and/or incorporate similar fixtures or colours.
Single pendants bring both beauty and functional light and are best when suspended (alone) above a desk area, small bistro set, or any area which requires an intimate light source. While the design world loves symmetry, this is a place to play with asymmetry – use the rule of thirds to help find the sweet spot for the light, and to style the table beneath it.
Twinned pendants are generally reserved for bedside cabinets (which we discussed in our blog post here), or on either side of your mirror over the bathroom vanity. Adding attractive cornices or moulding here is advised, as well as paying attention to the appearance of the ceiling itself, as these pendant lights will draw the eye upward!
Multiple pendants are typically used over kitchen islands, breakfast bars and dining room tables. Generally, the recommendation is to use odd numbers, since this is more visually satisfying. The length of the kitchen island will help you to discern how many lights you will need and what size: for example, if you need four small pendants to cover the length, you may want to consider a medium-sized pendant or one of a different shape, so that the number is still odd. And don’t forget to place task lighting over any special features such as a built-in sink or cutting board.
Clusters of pendant lights are a personal favourite of ours. The Light Yard offers clusters in a variety of shapes and finishes, and we have installed pendant clusters in some very exciting commercial and residential properties – with as many as 13 pendants in one cluster alone! Clusters of small and medium-sized pendant lights bring heaps of visual interest, and can be designed to suit the specific needs of your interior spaces. Adjust the drop so that your pendants cascade, or hang at a variety of levels to create a showstopping look. Positioned in an entrance foyer or stairwell, it’s a memorable way to welcome people into your home.
The quick and easy way…
If you’d like more guidance on choosing or installing pendant lighting, we’re happy to help. Our lighting consultants are always on hand, and where a more complex lighting scheme is required, we provide a full lighting design service.