What are Chandeliers?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

A chandelier is defined as a lamp which is suspended from the ceiling either directly from a ceiling lamp outlet, or simply from a hook in the ceiling and then plugged into a common wall socket. Chandeliers use small, lower wattage bulbs that are usually shaped in the form of a candle flame, though these lamps are not limited to small bulbs. There are often three or more light bulbs in one chandelier, giving off from 100 to 400 watts of total light.

Chandeliers can be ornate and grand.
Chandeliers can be ornate and grand.

Chandeliers can be used in nearly any room, from a fancy, formal dining room to a child's bedroom or game room. The most popular ones are the type with dangling cut glass crystals surrounding the bulbs, creating a beautiful spectrum of light. These more formal lamps are usually brass or gold plated, and will bring elegance and formality to the room in which they hang.

Smaller chandeliers can be used in almost any room of a house.
Smaller chandeliers can be used in almost any room of a house.

Less formal chandeliers include those made of wood, ceramic, wrought iron, stained glass, and even deer antlers. A white ceramic version adorned with pastel flowers will look appropriate in a little girl's room or a sunny tea room. A heavy, multicolored glass chandelier can be hung over a pool table or game table in a less formal room. Many people who own mountain cabins or who simply want a more rustic décor will go with the antler or wrought iron chandelier.

While chandeliers can be appropriate in any type of room, choosing the correct size is paramount. A giant one will overcome a tiny room while a small one hung over a long dining room table will look lost. In general, a smaller room with dimensions of 10 x 10 ft (3.05 x 3.05 m) would comfortably house a chandelier no more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) in diameter. A 12 x 12 ft (3.66 x 3.66 m) room will hold one of up to 27 inches (68.58 cm) in diameter. An exceptionally large one with a diameter of 36 inches (91.44 cm) or more should only be hung in a room that is 14x 14 ft (4.27 x 4.27 m) or larger.

When choosing a chandelier to hang over a table, it should normally hang at least 30 inches (76.2 cm) from the surface of the table, and should be about 12 inches (30.48 cm) narrower than the table's width.

Deer antlers have been used to make chandeliers.
Deer antlers have been used to make chandeliers.
Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments


I think that a chandelier in the foyer should be brighter than 400 lumens total. I would say 400 lumens per bulb is necessary if you have tall ceiling.


@Perdido – My uncle has a fishing cabin with a chandelier made of small kerosene lanterns. This bronze chandelier fits right in with the simplistic theme of his cabin.

The bronze base that holds the lanterns curves outward under each one. It is linked to the ceiling by matching chains that meet at the top cap where the hook is welded.

I saw the catalog that he ordered this from, and they also had a rustic chandelier with a metal pine cone base that had little lamps sitting on top. Another chandelier featured a bear head and branches all intertwined. So, there are a lot of options out there for you.


The bar where my friends and I go to shoot pool has chandeliers over every pool table. They are semi-circular bowls made of colored glass in different patterns, and the bulbs rest inside the bowls.

These are great for low-light areas like bars. They illuminate the pool tables just enough.

I have a cabin in the woods with a pool table in it, and I've been thinking of getting a chandelier to go above it. However, I don't think a colored glass one would fit in with the feel of the cabin. What are some cool kinds of rustic chandeliers other than those made with antlers?


I think that crystal chandeliers are the prettiest kind. The light reflects off all of the facets and creates a rainbow of colors.

I like the traditional teardrop crystal chandeliers, but I love the more modern, creative designs. I saw a chandelier in a home store last week that had crystal spheres hanging from different lengths of string from the base at the top, and they made a spiral pattern.

The lights were on the flat base, and they shone down upon the crystals. This was the first one like this I have ever seen, and if it didn't cost $500, I would get it. Chandeliers can be really expensive, and the more unique they are, the more they seem to cost.


I've always thought that big antique chandeliers were beautiful, but I've been afraid to hang one up in my living room. I have this fear of it falling on my head and killing me!

I know this isn't rational, but I am really accident-prone. Chandeliers are heavy and have many sharp points, as well as breakable pieces that would shatter when they hit.

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