How To Use Pendant Lights In The Living Room

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It’s time for me to talk about the elephant in the room. By elephant I mean pendants and by room I mean the living room.

Pendant lights stand out for their versatility and aesthetic appeal. Whether you’re looking to add a focal point, enhance the decor, or simply improve the lighting, pendant lights can be the perfect solution.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of pendant lights in the living room and explore how to use them effectively.

pendants in the living room

Let’s start with the basics.

What Are Pendant Lights?

Pendant lights are fixtures that hang from the ceiling, usually suspended by a cord, chain, or metal rod. They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, making them suitable for different decor styles and functional needs.


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Types of pendant lights

There are many types of pendant lights, such as lantern, globe, drum, and track light pendants, but we will only focus on the two major categories.

Single pendants

A single pendant light features one light fixture hanging from a single cord or chain. It’s perfect for highlighting specific areas like a coffee table or a reading nook.

Multi-light pendants

Multi-light pendants have multiple light sources attached to a single fixture. They provide more illumination and can be a stunning centerpiece.

How To Use Pendant Lights In The Living Room

Pendants are incredibly versatile, making them a perfect choice for your living room, which is also a versatile room. Their adaptability allows them to be used in multiple ways, catering to different functions and styles. Here’s a closer look at how you can use them in your living room to achieve balanced lighting:

Ambient Lighting

By carefully selecting the size, shape, and material of the pendant light’s shade, you can create light that either softly illuminates the entire room or is focused on a specific spot.

Pendants with diffused glass or fabric shades spread light evenly, which helps set a cozy mood in the evening. These are ideal for ambient lighting.

Also, hanging your pendants at the center of the living room and making them the main fixture helps establish them as an ambient light source. That is, only if they are powerful enough to illuminate the entire room.

This is why you should read my guide to lumens in the living room and figure out exactly how much brightness you need for your pendants.

This guide also goes through your task lumen requirements, so be sure to check it out!

Task Lighting

Pendant lights can also provide focused task lighting. If you have a reading nook, a pendant light hung directly over your chair can offer the perfect amount of light. The concentrated light helps reduce eye strain and creates a dedicated spot for activities that require attention to detail.

This is why I love pendants used for task lighting. They don’t take up any space like table lamps and they just get the job done in an elegant way.

Pro Tip: For the best results, hang pendants at around 30-36 inches (75-90 cm) above a table.

Accent Lighting

Although not typically used for accent lighting, pendants are so versatile that you can experiment with them in any way you want.

For instance, hanging a pendant above a piece of artwork or a beautiful piece of furniture can draw attention to these features, making them stand out. This use of accent lighting adds depth and dimension to your room, creating visual interest and focal points.

Adjustable Lighting

Many pendant lights come with adjustable heights, allowing you to customize the light’s position based on your needs. This feature is particularly useful if you like to rearrange your furniture or if you need different lighting levels for various activities.

Being able to adjust the height ensures that the lighting remains effective and aesthetically pleasing regardless of changes in your living room layout!

Complementary Lighting

Pendants can be easily combined with other types of lighting, such as floor lamps, table lamps, and wall sconces, to create a balanced and layered lighting scheme. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know how much emphasis I place on light layering.

This combination ensures that your living room is well-lit from multiple sources, reducing shadows and providing adequate illumination for all activities. The interplay between different light fixtures can also enhance the room’s ambiance and highlight its architectural features.

pendants over table living room

Choosing The Right Pendants For Your Living Room

The first thing you need to do before you go buy a pendant is to calculate the living room size. This will determine the size and number of pendants you need. Obviously, larger living rooms require more or larger pendants to be sufficiently illuminated, whereas smaller living rooms can benefit from more delicate fixtures.

The way to do this is by multiplying the length by the width of your living room. This will give you the square footage of the living room which you can use to estimate how many pendants (and of what diameter) you will need.

However, this is a bit misleading because of the following rules:

  1. An even number of pendants is more pleasing to the eye
  2. You need more than one pendant if you want them for ambient light
  3. You should aim to diversify your light sources as much as possible
  4. Seven pendants are typically too many for the living room

So, we are left with two main options: 3 or 5 pendants. It is therefore quite easy to figure out if 3 or 5 pendants would best suit your specific living room.

At least, this is how I usually decide how many pendants to place in the living room for ambient light instead of having to do calculations.

Now it goes without saying that each task area requires one and only one pendant. Unless of course, you opt for other fixtures such as table lamps or floor lamps.

Matching the Décor

Choose pendant lights that complement your living room’s decor style. Whether it’s modern, rustic, industrial, or eclectic, there’s a pendant light that will fit perfectly. Visit the huge selection of pendants over at Residence Supply and pick out your favorite!

Here are some of my top picks:

Don’t forget to think about what you want the pendant lights to achieve. Are they for reading, general illumination, or purely decorative? This will influence your choice.

Placement of Pendant Lights

Over Coffee Tables

Hanging a pendant light over a coffee table creates a focal point and provides ample light for activities around the table. As we saw already, this is ideal for task lighting.

Above Seating Areas

Place pendant lights above seating areas to create cozy, well-lit spots for reading or relaxing.

In Corners

Using pendant lights in corners can illuminate dark areas that ambient light doesn’t really reach. This is a great trick to make the room feel bigger than it actually is.

Grouping Pendants

Grouping several pendants together can create a dramatic effect, especially in larger living rooms. Consider varying the heights for added visual interest but as we saw, go for either 3 or 5 pendants.

Installation Tips

Correct Height for Pendant Lights

Hang pendant lights at a height that prevents glare and provides adequate illumination. Typically, this is around 30-36 inches (75-90 cm) above tables and 7 feet (210 cm) from the floor in open areas.

Ensuring Safety

Ensure all electrical work is done safely. If you’re not confident, hire a professional electrician to handle the installation.

Using Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the light intensity, creating the perfect mood for any occasion. I am a big fan of dimmers and I suggest using them wherever possible.


Pendants are a versatile and stylish addition to any living room. By choosing the right fixtures, placing them strategically, and maintaining them properly, you can create a cozy, functional, and visually appealing space. Whether you prefer a modern, rustic, or eclectic look, pendant lights offer endless possibilities to enhance your living room’s ambiance.


What height should pendant lights be hung? Pendant lights should typically be hung 30-36 inches above tables and about 7 feet from the floor in open areas.

Can I install pendant lights myself? Yes, you can install pendant lights yourself if you’re comfortable with electrical work. However, for complex setups or to ensure safety, hiring a professional is recommended.

What are the best bulbs for pendant lights? LED bulbs are the best choice for pendant lights due to their energy efficiency, long lifespan, and variety of color temperatures.

How do I clean pendant lights? Regularly dust your pendant lights and clean them with a damp cloth. For more thorough cleaning, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How can I incorporate pendant lights into a small living room? Choose smaller pendant lights or mini pendants, and place them strategically to enhance the space without overwhelming it. Hanging them in corners or over specific areas can add depth and interest.


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