Gone is the day when ornate chandeliers graced only formal dining rooms and grand entryways with their ambience. As the decorative style of chandeliers has evolved, so has their placement in the home.
Functionally, a chandelier adds "ambient light" -- indirect, evenly spread light that illuminates the room. Ambient light adds comfort to the room and makes it easy to see in the illuminated space. In a bedroom, lighting is often focused on task light -- bedside lamps and maybe a desk lamp -- so a chandelier can offer full-room lighting when natural light is limited.
Decoratively, a chandelier adds an interesting design element to the ceiling, drawing the eye up to take in the entire room. A substantial chandelier, either by size or by noteworthy design, can even become the focal point of the room and a jumping-off point for the entire design scheme.
With the wide variety of chandeliers available, consider these options when selecting one for your bedroom.
Style: Choose a chandelier that complements your bedroom design. The classic candlestick chandelier, with multiple arms and tiers, can fit a variety of styles, depending on its detailing and finishing. A fancy gilded chandelier, for instance, is right at home in a romantic bedroom or one dressed in old-world style. A chandelier similar in shape but made of simple wrought iron works in an understated Shaker bedroom or with today's timeless style. An antique fixture repainted in a fun retro color goes well with shabby chic. Chandeliers with a barrel shade change styles according to the fabric choice. Neutral or classic fabric complements traditional bedrooms while graphic patterns go modern. For a midcentury modern or trendy contemporary bedroom, seek out a whimsical and funky light fixture.
Finish: Chandeliers come in a variety of metal finishes. To work the fixture into your bedroom's decor, match its finish to the door or furniture hardware in your bedroom. On the other hand, the finish does not have to be metallic. If it suits your bedroom design, you can buy an inexpensive fixture and spray-paint it to match finishes or colors in your bedroom.
Light source: In addition to choosing the design of the chandelier, you'll want to consider its function. If you are using the chandelier as the bedroom's main light source, choose a light fixture with large unshaded bulbs. Mini shades on each bulb or a large shade over the entire fixture will diffuse the light, creating a light fixture that functions more as a mood accent. Fixtures with candle-style bulbs will give off less light than ones with larger bulbs.
A chandelier's placement creates a functional and decorative effect in the bedroom. The placement helps define its impact on the design and lighting plan. Try one of these placement ideas or use several in your bedroom retreat.
Middle of the ceiling: To make an overall design statement and illuminate the entire room, hang a chandelier in the center of the room. When mounting, you'll need enough headspace to walk comfortably beneath the fixture. Standard height is approximately 7 feet above the floor, but you can adjust that height, as well as choose a smaller or larger light fixture, if your ceilings are unusually low or high.
Over the bed: Draw attention to the centerpiece of your bedroom by hanging a chandelier either centered over the bed or toward the head. A chandelier can be hung lower over the bed; just be sure to leave enough clearance so you won't bump it when sitting up or getting in and out of bed. If it hangs above your head when you kneel on the bed, you won't feel like it is looming over you. Also, make sure it doesn't block your line of sight when watching TV in bed or gazing around the room.
At the nightstands: Hang a pair of smaller chandeliers at each bedside and save precious space on the top of bedside tables. For the most benefit when reading in bed, hang each fixture 20-30 inches above the nightstand so it rests at about the same place as a standard bedside table lamp.
Over a desk or dressing table: Lending the same space-saving benefit as a light over a nightstand, a chandelier can illuminate a desk or dressing table in your bedroom. Here, hang the fixture 30-36 inches above the table surface, adjusting as needed so the light is slightly above your eye level when sitting.
Let us inspire your decorating with unique projects and ideas. Our Decorating Ideas newsletter series delivers decorating inspiration and tips every week.
Take your bedroom from boring to beautiful. These inspirational makeovers will get you started.