How Far Should A Pendant Light Hang Above A Table?

How far above a table should a light hang is frequently debated within the design community and is an important topic to address if you’re considering adding a pendant to your dining room. When it comes to dining room lighting ideas, incorporating a beautiful pendant light or chandelier above a dining table is a popular choice. As well as providing both general and direct task lighting over a table, pendants can help create a cozy atmosphere and act as beautiful design features whether switched on or off. By mounting a pendant light at the proper height over your dining table, you not only create an eye-catching centerpiece to your room, but avoid having guests’ bump their heads or have conversations interrupted by low-hanging lights. However, the optimal height to hang your light fixture can differ depending on the space you are in. Here we will determine the right height for your particular ceiling and the furniture you have in place.


What Height Should I Hang My Pendant Above a Dining Room Table?

While there are a few guidelines to follow when installing a pendant above a table, the height truly depends mostly on your own personal style. Follow the steps below for a better idea of determining the optimal height to hang a pendant within your space.

  • First, you’ll need to determine the overall pendant length that you want for your space. An easy way to visualize this is to hang a balloon with a string from your ceiling. This will allow you to step back and assess the height at which the pendants will hang from multiple angles along with the visual impact they will have above your table.
  • Ideally, the bottom of the shade won’t hang lower than the tallest person in your household. As a rule of thumb, you'll want at least 36"- 44" of clearance between the surface of your table and the bottom of your fixtures. Small tables or islands (4 to 5 feet long) usually do well with one large or two medium pendants, while larger surfaces can handle two larger or three medium sized pendants. For hanging multiple pendants, we recommend spacing them about 24" apart. For round tables, you may choose to cluster multiple pendants at varying heights for a lighting design that is all your own.
  • When it comes to illuminating your dining table, it's all about your aesthetic and the level of formality you want for your space. Traditionally, more formal dining rooms have lower hanging light fixtures. At a minimum of 6 feet above the floor, some consider this too low for casual entertaining. For a more modern or laid-back feel, you can try bringing your pendants up a bit by hanging them at 6 ½ feet to 7 feet (78 to 84 inches) from the floor. Overall, you want to ensure that your lighting looks visually balanced and distributes the light well enough within your space.
  • For round tables, your pendant should measure between ½-¾ of the table top diameter. You will want to leave a minimum of 6 inches from the table edge to the side of the light fixture on all sides to ensure all furnishings are in correct proportion.

Things to Consider When Hanging Pendant Lights

Consider Your Ceiling Height:

  • The height of your dining room ceiling can affect how much space you’re going to want between the bottom of the pendant light, and your tabletop. For rooms with higher ceilings – say 12 feet plus– you may actually want to hang the pendant light a bit higher above the dining table than you otherwise might consider. This helps contribute to a balanced visual aesthetic – and while 36” is a common rule of thumb for typical 8-10 foot ceilings, it may look imbalanced and too low if the ceiling is higher. You also don’t want the light so high up that it feels too visably removed from the table, disrupting the room’s sense of cohesion.

Consider Scale:

  • When deciding how far above a table to hang a light there are practical issues to consider, including not obstructing diners views across the table, but also how the light looks aesthetically within the space.
  • In order to see if where it hangs works with the proportions, be sure to take a step back, it is important to be present during installations to ensure that the height is perfect. Viewing the chandelier both from a standing and a sitting position is key. 
  • Finally, perhaps just as critical as the height is making sure the light hangs in the right place over a dining table. Generally the center is the go-to, but this will vary depending on table shape and if you are hanging a series of pendants as part of a design feature. If possible, when placing a dining table in the room, always make sure the table, light fixture, and entrance of the room are in line and centered with one another. Following this rule will allow for ample space on all sides of the table.

What Size Pendant Light Do You Need?

Sizing pendants and chandeliers are a similar process when it comes to identifying the proper fixture that will be proportional to the size of the room or area where the lighting will hang. Follow the steps below to easily find the best size pendant for your dining room or kitchen island.

  1. Measure the length and width of your room or dining space in feet, where you want to center the fixture.
  2. Add those two measurements together. For example, if you have a 15 foot by 10 foot dining room, the number would be 25.
  3. Convert this number to inches and this is the approximate width your pendant light should be to be proportional to the size of your room.

This calculation will provide an estimated width or diameter of a proportional pendant light for your room (give or take a few inches). This estimation applies if you are hanging a singlular pendant or multiple of the same or similar sized fixtures in a room.

There are so many different styles and types of pendants that work in a dining room, it really all boils down to your personal preference. Same goes for the number of pendants you select and the height at which you hang them. Hung high or low, what looks and feels good to you will most likely work in your space. Depending on the size of your dining table, you may want to consider a single pendant, or if you've got room to play, we love the impact of multiple pendants clustered together at varying heights for a dramatic, yet functional touch of brightness above a table.