Suspended from ceilings by rods or chains, pendants bring light down to the places we need it, and they do so with attention-grabbing grace we can't help admire, even after the electricity is turned off.
Simpler than a chandelier with its multiple outstretched arms, a pendant is little more than a bulb hidden under a shade swinging on the end of a cord. Yet there's a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, ranging from 4-inch-diameter mini cylinders to massive 30-inch domes. Some wash light over a big area, giving your foyer or stair landing a welcoming glow. Others focus bright beams onto one strategic spot: a sink or cutting board on a kitchen island, a family photo on the living room credenza.
A pendant's purpose is often defined by what its shade is made of. Glass ones, whether colorful mouth-blown Murano flutes or industrial-style ribbed globes, as well as most fabric-covered drums throw off ambient light. Shades fashioned from enameled or hand-hammered metal, for instance, confine light in a downward path.