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What Height to Hang Those Lights?

Are you googling “how high to hang a light fixture” or “what height do I hang a light”?

Then you must be redecorating or building a house! Let’s talk about what height to hang those lights!

These are questions I’m often asked because I’ve had to specify how high to hang lights in four houses I’ve built:

  • How high do I hang a chandelier above my dining room table?
  • What height should I hang a pendant light above my kitchen island?
  • Is there a rule for what height to hang a light in a living room or family room?
  • How low can you hang a foyer light?

If you don’t have a mom who knows how high to hang every light fixture in a house like I do, then I’ll be the person to help you!  If you’ve ever read my posts, in decorating, I don’t like to follow the rules like I do in life.

There is a lot to consider when hanging a light fixture. Much of the height hanging formula is based on the look of the light itself, the size of the room, and the height of the ceiling.

In my current home, my entire lower level is open concept. So making sure each light was hung properly in relationship to each other was REALLY important. I’ll be using lighting examples from my own home, throughout this article, to demonstrate how to hang a light fixture.

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What Height to Hang a Pendants Over a Kitchen Island

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Hanging a Light over a Dining Room Table

To me, this is the easiest light fixture hanging height formula to follow – so we will start here first.  Please keep in mind that you need to create enough visual clearance for people to see each other when sitting at the dining table and you want to make sure the light is not directly in their eyes!

Typically a dining room table is 30 inches high or 2 1/2 feet from the floor.   My ceilings are 10 feet high (I’m lucky!).

  • A general rule of thumb is to hang a light 30 inches to 34 inches from the top of the table.
  • This chandelier is hung 31 inches from the top of the table at the LOWEST point.
  • At the WIDEST point it is hung at 33 inches above the table and that is the most important measurement.
  • The light fixture hangs 5 feet from the ceiling. The room is split visually in half.

If you have an 8 feet ceiling, then you can go as low as 30 inches from the top of the table at the widest point.

Dining Room at an Angle with Empire Chanedlier in Gold

Empire Chandelier Over Round Dining Table
Chandelier Widest Point Hanging 33 Inches Above Dining Table
Shop for Empire Style Chandeliers


Hanging a Light Over a Game or Kitchen Table

  • Upstairs I have 9 feet ceilings. The drum shade light fixture is hanging over the game table at 31 inches. You can clearly see through the room as well, since this is an open loft area.
  • The table is 30 inches from the floor and is a repurposed kitchen table from Pottery Barn!
  • For every 1 foot of ceiling height change, adjust up or down 1 to 3 inches.  The taller the ceiling the farther off the table you hang the light fixture. Make sense?


Hanging Pendant Lights Over a Kitchen Island or Sink

Most kitchen islands are 36 inches from the floor or 3 feet. However, the lights hanging over my kitchen island are hung higher than my dining room light.  A typical rule was broken by hanging them more than 34 inches from the top of the island. Why?

Think about how you use a kitchen island. Much of the time you are standing – during meal prep or entertaining and I hate to point out probably while eating (I do this!).

All of this information applies to a pendant light above the sink as well.

  • Kitchen island pendant hanging height is up for interpretation in my humble opinion.
  • The pendant lights (really chandeliers) in the kitchen are hanging 36 inches from the top of the counter or 72 inches from the floor. That is 6 feet above the floor, with the actual light bulbs themselves 7 feet above the floor.
  • A tall person can comfortably stand at my island and see through to the family room or dining room, without the view being obstructed or having the light directly in their gaze.
  • Hanging the lights 34 inches above the counter would have been appropriate too, but remember I have 10 foot ceilings and going up a couple of inches still looks great.
Kitchen Island Pendant Lights and Dining Room Chandelier
Pendant Light Hanging 36 inches Above Kitchen Island


Shop for Drum Shade Chandeliers


Hanging a Chandelier in a Living Room

Are you wondering how high to hang a light over the coffee table in your family or living room? This one is a little tricker and also has a lot to do with the light fixture itself, the other lighting hanging from ceilings in adjacent rooms, and personal preference.

A rule of thumb is to hang the fixture at least 7 feet from the floor.

Look around the room and make sure the light won’t hang down in front of something like a TV! Very important. Another important consideration is that when you stand up you don’t want to look into the chandelier hung over the coffee table.

Measure from the floor up and eyeball the right height for everything around the room

  • The basket weave drum shade in the family room is hung 90 inches from the floor or at 7 1/2 feet from the floor.  Remember the pendant lights are hanging at 7 feet from the floor and I wanted them to relate to each other.

It could have been dropped down by as much as a 6 inches and still would have been within the “rules”, but I wanted it hung a bit higher visually than the lights above the kitchen island.

Light Fixture Hanging Above Coffee Table in Living Room
Living Room Light Hanging 7 1/2 Feet from the Floor
Family Room Light Fixture Hanging Above Coffee Table Coastal Decor
Basket Weave Light Fixture Hanging 7 1/2 feet from the Floor
Shop for Woven Shade Chandelier


Hanging a Light Fixture in an Office

The SAME principles are used for an office light fixture as in a living room. The main issue to avoid is to bumping your head 🙂

A rule of thumb is to hang the fixture at least 7 feet from the desk or sitting are, so when you stand up you don’t bump it.   If you are over 7ft tall? Install a can light…seriously.

Tracey-and-Mick-Westfall-Progress Lighting-the-Office

That’s a real dog! Mick the Maltese who keeps me company in the office 🙂

Shop for Open Lantern Fixtures


Hanging a Light Fixture in a Foyer

The height of a foyer light can be tricky because there is so much variety in what you can choose in the way of light fixtures.

I’ve had both a hanging lantern and just recently changed to a close-to-ceiling light. There were too many hanging light fixtures downstairs, so I eliminated one!

Most likely the front door opens into this space and possibly a coat closet.  If the foyer is small, you need to pay attention to this so the door doesn’t hit the fixture! Also think about people, unlike the other fixtures we’ve talked about, will need to walk underneath this fixture.

  • Make sure the foyer light is hanging 4 inches or more above the top of the door and at least 7 feet above the floor.
  • A close-to-ceiling light or flush mount light likely doesn’t need to be adjusted and can just be hung.
  • The ceiling light in my foyer did come with a chain and is hung 1 foot from the ceiling.
Foyer Light Hanging 12 inches from the Ceiling
Foyer Light Hanging 12 inches from the Ceiling
Shop Flush Mount Lights


Now you have a handy guide to hanging light fixtures that my mom shared with me! Because I love to inspire I’ll get you started with some new Empire chandelier ideas! Do you like the chandelier in my dining room? Unfortunately, it is no longer available or I would have included it for you.

Dimmer Switches

Now that you know what height to hang your lights may I suggest adding dimmer switches 🙂 Just about every light in my home that is hung from the ceiling is on a dimmer switch.  Good news! I have a tutorial for that and it’s an easy 15 minute project: DIY IT! Easily Install a Dimmer Switch or Light Switch

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  1. I am wondering how low a light can be hung in a stairwell with a landing? It looks to high at the moment and am wondering if I can lower it to be seen from the downstairs and wondering what would be the lowest I would want it from the landing? Thanks for your help!

    1. Best way to measure is from the floor! You need to be careful with how low you hang it due to having to carry things like a ladder upstairs. It depends on your ceiling height too. Sorry, I can’t give you specific advice on your space…just guidance.

  2. I wish I could send you a picture! I have a light above my round dining table! I had a friend hand it with the bigger of 3 bulbs in the front… I’m wondering if the bigger bulb should be in the back? They are staggered??

  3. Thanks for some tips on how to hang hanging lights! I liked that you mentioned that having at least 7 feet difference from the floor and 4 inches above the top of the door is the recommended way to hang foyer lights. Additionally, I love the rule of thumb to hang a chandelier at least 7 feet from the floor and make sure the light won’t block any path, coffee tables, or viewing items such as televisions or paintings. I’d be sure to keep your tips in mind. My wife and I just agreed on installing a chandelier and a few hanging lamps for our home and the patio outside. They should make the home more formal and aesthetic. Hopefully, it would turn out great!

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