Lighting Ideas: Find the Perfect Chandelier

Design Star judge Vern Yip shares his tips for choosing and hanging the right fixture and HGTV Magazine sheds light on 9 different looks.

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Photo: Todd Plitt/HGTV

Vern Knows Chandeliers

One of my favorite design elements is lighting, and I'm a huge fan of chandeliers. I always say they're an opportunity to have a floating piece of art in the room. In my foyer, for example, I have a metal chandelier with two tiers of arms and drops of red crystals. Very dramatic! And since chandeliers are hung up high, you can choose something more delicate than you might be comfortable with in the rest of the house. Try these tips to find a fixture for your space.

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Beyond the Dining Room

Currey & Company Lawrence 18\" diameter (laylagrayce.com)
Vern's Tips: Look beyond the dining room and foyer. Those spots are great, but I also love a chandelier in the living room, bedroom, closet, and bathroom. I'd probably draw the line only at the garage. Don't rely on the chandelier as your primary light source. If you don't have recessed can lighting in the room, make sure you add some floor lamps, table lamps, or sconces.

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Mix Styles

Bamboo tower 24\" diameter, available in six colors (shadesoflight.com)
Vern's Tip: A chandelier doesn't have to match the style of your house. If you live in a traditional home, like an old Victorian, you don't have to have a chandelier dripping in crystals. A simple metal one with just a few crystals can be a nice pick. On the flip side, if your house is contemporary, an ornate chandelier with traditional details is a great counterpoint.

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Match Metals

Crystorama Solaris 22\" diameter with a metal body and a glass drop (lightingdirect.com)
Vern's Tip: Stick to one metal family. If you have silver curtain rods, for example, choose a chandelier that's nickel or pewter. A shiny brass chandelier would look great with bronze or gold-trimmed elements.

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Size Matters

Nuvo Lighting Mericana 26 1/2\" diameter (allmodern.com)
Vern's Tip: A chandelier that's not big enough can make a room feel smaller. A good guideline: Measure the room's length and width, and add those together. Then use that number for the diameter, substituting \"inches\" for \"feet.\" So if your room is 10 feet by 18 feet, you should look for a chandelier with a diameter of at least 28 inches.

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Go Bold

Harper chandelier 28 3/4\" diameter (Wayfair.com)
Vern's Tip: You can have a big, bold chandelier in a small room if you choose the right one. An all-glass or thin-frame metal chandelier is striking without taking up a lot of visual space.

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Hang Multiples

Arteriors Home Sherman in a brass finish, 31\" diameter (zincdoor.com)
Vern's Tip: Over a long table, try two chandeliers instead of one. I prefer two of the same, each with a diameter about a third of the table's width. If your table is extra-long, you can try three.

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Above the Table

Arteriors Home Louis 28\" diameter (shopcandelabra.com)
Vern's Tip: When I hang a chandelier above a table, I like to have about 66 inches from the floor to the underside of the light fixture. That's enough room to put a flower arrangement or a centerpiece on the table and sit and talk, but low enough that you still have light hitting the table, giving a glow.

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Measure Wisely

AF Lighting Ramblin' Rose 23\" diameter (lowes.com)
Vern's Tip: If you hang a chandelier in a spot other than above a table, still measure carefully. If people will be walking under it, I think of 6 feet, 8 inches as my minimal clearance from the floor to the chandelier's underside. (Or 7 feet, if you have tall people in your family.) If your ceilings are higher than 11 feet, a clearance of 7 feet, 6 inches looks better.

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Vintage Fixtures

Candice Olson Aristocrat, 30\" diameter (lampsplus.com)
Vern's Tip: Consider a vintage fixture that was originally meant for candles. This is a great piece to repurpose! You can take it to a lighting store and have it rewired as a chandelier for a couple hundred dollars. I spent $300 on an eight-candle fixture and had it rewired for $200 instead of spending $2,000 on a comparable newer one.

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