Pendants Make It Pop

A pendant fixture casts a warm glow over the table. Hand-blown teardrop-shaped cluster pendants add a striking feature to the kitchen.

Pendant lighting casts a modern glow on any room.

With a flick of the switch pendant lighting is changing the way homeowners see the light.

These wildly popular drop-down ceiling lamps are basically comprised of a bare bulb and a shade, but they’re hardly simplistic in design.

In fact, these fixtures that hang from a rod or cord at least six inches from the ceiling have evolved into an art form of their own.

Pendant lighting has come a long way from the stuffy Victorian-era crystal chandelier. Modern minimalist designs now incorporate industrial metals for shading, Italian hand-blown colored glass or painted porcelain for globes. There are also rustic woodcarvings, abstract paper designs and just about any other material.

Wide purpose

“Pendant or task lighting was originally used in commercial kitchens where space was cramped and these lights were directed downward to a specific spot where food was being prepared,” explains Robert Wood of Unrestricted Living on Maclendon Drive. “Now these utilitarian lights are being repurposed for the home.”

Robert has used pendant lighting as the centerpiece of a dining room, a lone pendant casting its light over a casual table setting, and in the living room suspending a spotlight over a coffee table. In the bathroom, he’s installed mini-pendants for focus lighting.

Although pendant lighting has been more popular in the kitchen and bathrooms, he says the trend has entered into the privacy of the bedroom.

Gone are the lamps that hog space on the night stands. Now he replaces the bulky fixtures with a lone pendant lamp on each side of the bed for reading.

To make the room brighter, Robert suggests mounting a pendant globe light at the foot of the bed.  Using a dimmer switch can create a candlelight glow across the room.

Industrial-inspired spun metal pendant lighting.

Choosing the pendant light that’s right for the space involves knowing how you want the light to function, whether it’s for reading in bed or at a work-table in the den or in social gatherings in the living room.

How to hang

Knowing the right dimensions to suspend a lamp will avoid turning it into a misplaced distraction or banging into it.

In general, pendant lights should be between 28 to 38 inches above the surface of the table or countertop, otherwise the fixtures should be about 72 inches above the floor.

If you are making plans to use pendant lighting, bear in mind the price range swings like a pendulum.

“Even though pendant lighting is really big these days it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket,” says Robert. “There are terrific creative pieces for under a hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars for designer names such as Danish architect Poul Henningsen, whose layered shades create a soft, diffused lighting, and Italian designer Nella Vetrina who incorporates hand-blown Murano glass. “

Sleek metal cone-shaped pendants in three graduated sizes add interest to any space.

Still, the most popular of the pendant styles is the glass globe and an inner stainless steel shade that masks the bulb and beams as if it was a flashlight.

There’s something else to take into account when looking at the entire room. Translucent globes will illuminate the space around and below it, while the dark colored shades will cast a light in one direction.

Think about colored LED lights, too. They’re a bit pricey, but they give off more vivid light than the incandescent bulb.

“I will always encourage people in Cayman to think about pendant lighting to transform a space,” says Robert. “It’s obviously all very personal. There are no rights and wrongs.”