Living in a rental can feel like designВ purgatory. Making dramatic changes to a place that's not your own can feel pointless, yet you still want to give the space a sense of character-it's home for now, after all. While a stunning sofa or quality coffee table often get attention as good first investment pieces, we've pinpointed one item that will give your rental instant vibes: a statement pendant light.
From an ornate beaded chandelier to a modern glass bulb, this single purchase injects personality in an instant-even if the rest of your dГ©cor has yet to be defined. And while they might look dramatic, overhead lights can be easily changed with the help of an electrician, making them the ideal investment piece to buy now and take to your next home. Believe us, this is what your room is missing. Ask yourself these questions to find your perfect pendant match.Louise Desrosiers
While people often look for pendant lights that match their existing dГ©cor style, interior designer Allison Bloom of Dehn BloomВ says that's a rookie error. вЂњDon't worry excessively over matching the light to the room,вЂќ she tells MyDomaine. вЂњContrast creates intrigue, and if you love the pendant, it will make you happy whenever you see it.вЂќ
Bloom says the first issue you should address is what your room is lacking. вЂњThink about what the room needs. Is it overly angular?В Go with a circular fixture.В Does it feel flat and need some reflectivity or glamour?В Go with a crystal or glass pendant. Do you need actual wattage?В Get a light with multiple bulbs, and not the Edison variety!вЂќ she says. Rather than choosing a light that matches your space, look for pendants that fill a design gap and make the space feel complete.Michael Anastassiades Tube ChandelierShop
Michael Anastassiades Tube ChandelierВ (price upon request)Courtesy of Amie Corley Interior Design
If your first impulse is to choose a statement light that's in line with the main accent color in your home, you're making a common mistake. вЂњThe most prominent color in a room is already prominent, so adding more of it is not surprising or exciting,вЂќ says Bloom. Instead, she recommends looking for a secondary shade, found in items like an accent cushion or artwork. вЂњBring in a color that will register as something fresh and contrasts slightly with the main color. This will add drama and visual excitement,вЂќ she explains.Serena & Lily Malibu Chandelier $1195Shop Courtesy of Anne Hepfer
There's one practical question you should ask before selecting a light: How tall are the people in your house? Even if you're trying to create intimacy with a low-hanging bulb, Bloom says it's vital to consider practicality first. вЂњFor lights that require passage underneath, the base should be no lower than 76 inches. When the electrician hangs the light,В ask him or her to leave 6 inches of extra cord in the canopy,вЂќ she cautions. вЂњYou can always go higher, but you can't go lower if you've cut the cord!вЂќ If the light is positioned over a table, don't forget about head height. Bloom recommends hanging the pendant 36 inches above the table, or 26 inches maximum to create intimacy.Visual Comfort & Co. E.F. Chapman Darlana Foyer Lantern $690 $483Shop Courtesy of Studio Oink
Choosing the perfect height to hang your pendant light should also take into account the size of other items in the room, not just the height of the ceiling. вЂњPendant lights pull the eye up and vary the sense of height in a room,вЂќ says Bloom. вЂњSince most furniture is waist height or lower, rooms without pendant lighting often feel monotonous and flat.вЂќ Think about your space like a cityscape that needs both short items like ottomans or a coffee table, and accents that draw your gaze high, like artworks and lighting. If your space consists primarily of low furniture, choose a pendant lamp that varies the levels in the room.ВSofie Refer x &Tradition Mega Bulb Pendant Light $340Shop Courtesy of Katie Martinez Design
Pendant lights have the power to create an instant focal point, so think carefully about what is underneath the light before selecting a style. вЂњIn the absence of walls, our eyes define spaces primarily through lighting and flooring.В Pendant lights are sculptural arrows directing us to hang out here,вЂќ says Bloom. вЂњThis is one of the best reasons to use a pendant, other than for actual light!вЂќ
When choosing which room to hang the light in, consider open-plan areas that need definition. In her own home, Bloom has positioned a chandelier over a sofa to segment the large loft space. вЂњThe chandelier creates the sense of a smaller, cozy hang-out spot on the sofa. It's like a mini living room within the larger space,вЂќ she says.Dot & Bo Hoboken Pendant Light $1035 $690Shop Alicia Taylor for Australian House & Garden
Consider if the pendant light should make a bold first impression, and if so, play with proportion. As an interior designer, Bloom's pet peeve is seeing clients err on the side of caution when choosing the size of their light. вЂњNothing deflates the sense of drama in a room more than a light that is too small, unless you are intentionally going spare and minimalistic. Most lights should be 6 to 8 inches larger than you think they should be for impact,вЂќ she says.
Grappling with a small space? Try an oversize orb-like pendant. вЂњI especially like a large light in a small room-it plays with the sense of scale and creates a cool Alice in Wonderland effect,вЂќ she says. вЂњIt's too big only if you can't walk under it or if it's larger than one third of the room.В Otherwise, go big, go beautiful, or go home.вЂќVisual Comfort & Co. Middleton 6-Light Chandelier $1679Shop Courtesy of Claesson Koivisto Rune
Before you fall in love with an intricate pendant, be sure to check the existing light fittings in your house. If you're considering multiple pendants in a room, it's well worth calling in an electrician before you buy the lights to gauge the scope of the project. Many rental contracts include a clause about returning the home to its original condition if changes are made, so be sure the task is possible before you fall in love with a lighting style.Piet Houtenbos Halo Chandelier $4600Shop Maree Homer for Australian House & Garden
While a single statement pendant light can be simple and stunning, some light styles look best en masse-think minimal glass bulbs or basket-like shades. The key to gauging if your room needs more than one pendant is to assess the length of the area and the function of the room. Thin hallways or open-plan kitchens with a long benchtop often call for extra lighting to illuminate the space. It's also important to consider how the lights might impact your line of sight. вЂњA clear lantern or a wiry chandelier will allow you to see through the fixture, whereas a giant drum fixture will not,вЂќ Bloom explains.Vistosi Naranza SP P Pendant $1637Shop Courtesy of Emily Henderson ; Interior Design by Brady Tolbert
Statement lighting can feel intimidating, but don't be discouraged from taking a risk. Bloom says there's one type of lighting that people often avoid, but shouldn't. вЂњWhile most people think of the classic French lighting when they hear the word chandelier, this style of pendant can take nearly any form,вЂќ she says. вЂњIt simply means a light with branching arms! There is no home that can't handle a chandelier.вЂќ
She recommends stepping outside of your comfort zone when researching styles, and browsing vintage sites like 1stDibsВ and ChairishВ for unusual one-off finds. вЂњLighting is a place to have fun and take risks because unlike a sofa, it doesn't have to withstand the rigors of daily life, like dirt, kids, and dogs, and it doesn't even have to be comfortable. It just has to be beautiful.вЂќ That's a rarity in the dГ©cor world, so make the most of this purely aesthetic opportunity and be bold.Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Tangled Chandelier $385Shop