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Pendant Lighting Buying Guide

A dining room table beneath two matching sphere pendant lights.

Updated February 10, 2022

Holly H.

By Holly H.

Pendant lights are an alternative to conventional light fixtures and deliver on style and function. Find one, two or three to fit with your décor.

Pendant Light Size

To help find the right size, consider the location and the purpose of the light. Pendant lights range in size from 5 inches to 43 inches wide. When installed above a dining table or countertop, they typically hang about 24 inches to 30 inches above the surface. Most pendant lights come with extension rods or an adjustable chain so you can alter the hanging height as needed. Be sure the fixture doesn’t block the view of people seated at the table or island or hang so low that people bump into it.

Pendant Light Styles and Finishes

Pendant light with glass shades over an island.

Style is the most common characteristic when shopping for hanging lights. Pick a style you like and one that works with the rest of your décor.

  • Traditional Pendant Lights: Traditional hardware has a more ornate and classic look. Its details and embellishments work with a range of styles, including farmhouse, antique and rustic.
  • Contemporary Pendant Lights: With clean lines and a sharp, minimalistic look, contemporary or modern hanging lights are simple and understated.
  • Transitional Pendant Lights: Combining traditional and modern, transitional allows you to mix elements of both styles for a personalized look.
  • Unique Pendant Lights: If you’re seeking a more informal and fun look, unique fixtures allow you the most personalization.

Within each style, you have a choice of themes such as:

Pendant lights come in a variety of finishes. Take a cue from the existing finishes in your home. If the door handles and cabinet hardware are all in brushed nickel, choose lighting fixtures in a complementary finish. Popular pendant light finishes include:

  • Oil-rubbed bronze
  • Polished chrome
  • Brushed nickel
  • Polished nickel
  • Black iron

Shades and Accessories

A pendant light with glass shade above an island.

Pendant light shades come in glass, fabric and metal. Mini pendant lights sometimes come with the shade sold separately so you can mix and match. Fabric shades provide a diffused light that works well in bedrooms. For a stylish look, choose fabric shades with metal or wood panels. Metal shades look great in kitchens with an industrial motif. Popular pendant light shades include:

  • Colored glass
  • Frosted glass
  • Smoked white glass diffuser
  • Tiffany-style glass
  • Linen
  • Burlap
  • Polished chrome
  • Oil-rubbed bronze


Pendant light accessories can provide extra flair. Mount a decorative ceiling medallion to give a polished look to a large inverted pendant light or a pendant light with a shade.


Consider matching your wall plate to your new pendant lighting finish.

Types of Pendant Lights

Pendant lights with shades pointing up (uplights) are designed for ambient light, and those with shades pointing down (downlights) provide task light. Use uplighting in the bathroom, bedroom, dining room, foyer, hallway, kitchen, living room, game room or bar. Downlighting is a good choice for the dining room, kitchen or game room. For more information on lighting your home, check out How to Choose the Right Lights.

Mini Pendant Lights

Mini pendant light with glass shade.

Mini pendant lights can be used solo or in a group for task and accent lighting. Install a single mini pendant light above a sink or desk or several in a row above a breakfast bar or kitchen island. Mini pendant lights are also compatible with track lights. Mix mini pendant lights in with track light heads to have a mixture of task, accent and ambient lighting.

Island Pendant Lights

Island pendant light and Edison-style light bulbs.

Island pendant lights provide the same task lighting as mini pendant lights, typically with two or three light sources in a single fixture. Use them over a kitchen island, desk, bar or pool table in the game room.

Pendant Light With Fabric Shade

Pendant light with fabric shade.

A pendant light with fabric shade adds a luxurious look to the traditional pendant light. These lights provide ambient lighting in spaces like the foyer, living room, kitchen or bedroom. Try one as a substitute for a chandelier above a dining or breakfast table.

Multi-Light Pendant Lights

Multi-light pendant with glass jar lights.

Multi-light pendants provide ambient lighting with three — and sometimes up to 10 — light sources stemming from the same fixture. This type of pendant light can also be used as a chandelier alternative.

Inverted Pendant Lights

Inverted pendant light with glass shade.

Inverted pendant lights project light upward for ambient lighting. An inverted pendant light is similar in style to a semi-flush mount light, but it hangs from a chain instead of being mounted directly to the ceiling. Popular spots for inverted pendant lights include the dining room, foyer and breakfast nook.

Tip

A dimmer switch allows you to change the mood of the room. Check the packaging to see if the pendant light is dimmable.

Lighting Collections

If you find a pendant light you like and need other lighting fixtures, check to see if it’s part of a collection. Lighting collections offer fixtures in the same style and finish for many areas of the home. For more information on lighting options, check out Lighting Trends to Follow Now.

Installation

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for step-by-step directions, safety, warning and caution information. If in doubt, consult a qualified electrician. Trust Lowe’s with your lighting or ceiling fan installation.

Light Bulbs

Don’t forget light bulbs. Things like color temperature, lumens and wattage all play a factor in your room’s quality of light. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescents (CFLs) help lower energy costs. Both have a lower wattage but provide the same light output as higher-wattage incandescent bulbs. LEDs are also cool to the touch. In general, look for a warm-white color temperature for living rooms and bedrooms, a bright-white color temperature for kitchens and workspaces, and a daylight color temperature for reading nooks and studies. For more information on light bulbs, check out the Light Bulb Buying Guide.

Caution

Never exceed the maximum wattage recommended for your light fixture.

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