two styles of pendant lights hanging in an open design modern kitchen
Photo: Studio Ton Kinsbergen
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Design Help

Three questions to answer before shopping for your pendant

How Many?
An odd number of fixtures—one, three, or five—generally looks better than an even number. Over a kitchen island, space the fixtures evenly, typically 24 to 30 inches between the centers of the shades.

How Big?
Scale the shade to the size of the room or its most prominent piece of furniture. Over a rectangular dining table, for instance, the shade diameter should equal the table width minus 1 foot on either side, to create a visual buffer around it.

How Bright?
For ambient lighting with incandescent bulbs, aim for 2 watts per square foot—that's 200 watts for a 10-by-10-foot room. Up the output by as much as 50 percent in rooms painted in saturated colors or that have dark-stained trim. For task lighting, say over the desk in your kid's room, the rule of thumb is 15 watts per square foot. Don't be afraid of too much light; you can always install a dimmer.

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