Key Measurements You Need to Know When Shopping for Lighting

Purchasing lighting for a home is an exciting experience. Lighting is the finishing touch to a room’s design, the element that changes the mood of the room and gives life to the space. There are many options for home lighting, and it can be intimidating to think about making the right decisions for each room. However, local lighting showrooms are here to help with design inspiration, lessons on the latest technology, and selecting the perfect lighting for a space.

Before visiting a lighting showroom it’s helpful to prepare with some basic information about the project.

Some of the most important questions the showroom sales staff will ask are questions about size. So, measure, measure, measure! Be prepared with basic information about your space.

Ceiling height: When shopping for a hanging light for a high ceiling, make a note of the room’s ceiling height and the length and width of the room. If a fixture is already hanging in the space, give an estimation of its size. Bring pictures of the space, making sure that the picture gives some perspective on the size of the room.

Fixture Size: Keep in mind that the new fixture needs to fit appropriately in the space. A grand chandelier, for example, will not fit in a foyer with an 8- or 9-foot ceiling height. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, consider a flush mounted fixture to achieve the clearance requirements for the room.

Depending on the room or placement of the fixture, the hanging length or height of a fixture is equally as important as the size. The clearance needed depends on the space the light is being used in. As a rule, keep 7 feet of clearance from the floor up to the bottom of the fixture in in a space like a foyer, living room or bedroom where people typically walk underneath a fixture. In an open foyer or hallway, hang chandeliers or pendants with the bottom at least 6" higher than the door.

Bathrooms are another room where ceiling height measurements are extremely important. Hanging chandeliers and pendants over a bathtub is a popular and elegant way to decorate your bath. Measure the height from ceiling to floor and measure the space between the top of the tub and the bottom of the fixture. At least 8 feet of clearance is required. If the bathroom is small and can’t accommodate this rule, consider using a smaller fixture. Or, do not hang it directly over the tub; instead, install it at least 3 feet away from it.

Other measurements to take to the showroom include measurements for fixtures planned to hang over a dining room table or kitchen island. Measure the table length and width. The length of an appropriately sized fixture will be at least one foot shorter than the length of the table. Also bring basic information about the size and shape of the table. Bring a picture of the table in the space as a good reference for the showroom salesperson.

Today’s larger kitchen islands can typically accommodate a series of small pendants or a grouping of large pendants. Start by measuring the length and width of the island and take note of the shape (square, rectangle, peninsula, etc.). Measurements are very important because for smaller pendants equal space needs to be accounted for around each pendant. For larger pendants, hang even numbers (2 versus 3 pendants, for example) and plan for each to be about 1/3 the width of the table or island below.

For both dining tables and islands, measure the height from the floor to where the bottom of the fixture should be: a good rule of thumb is to hang mini or medium-sized pendants 66"- 72" from the floor to the bottom of each fixture.

Above all, expect an enjoyable experience at a lighting showroom. The experts there are trained to help with all your lighting decisions. You can find your nearest ALA-member showroom online by using our showroom locator. If you're concerned you may not have enough information about your space, consider calling the showroom before you go in. The sales associate can help you prepare to make the most of your visit.

Photo by Access Lighting.