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Advice + Inspiration

How to Choose a Modern Chandelier

Designer Jennifer Post shares her expert strategies

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Whether it's a winter retreat in Palm Beach, FL, or a Manhattan penthouse, each of Jennifer Post's projects bears her signature modern touch. Color and texture are used sparingly, but lighting acts as her muse. We spoke with Post about the role a chandelier plays in a room and finding the one that's right for your space.

YLighting: What is the biggest consideration when choosing a chandelier?

Jennifer Post: I always start with a recessed-lighting plan, such as Tech Lighting's Element 3-Inch LED Wall Wash, which disappears into the plane of the ceiling. By utilizing recessed lighting to deliver the core lighting for the space, I can use any chandelier I want as a statement. It's there to draw your eye and be pretty. It is never the primary source of light — that's not the point of it — so a dimmer is a must.

A chandelier should be part of your furniture and room plan and match the scale. With a bigger interior and furnishings you need a bigger fixture. For example, with a massive sofa, you'd want a large chandelier to balance it out. In a living room, I always use a chandelier as a "hero." If it's too small, it's pointless because you'll lose it in the volume. I like Moooi's Heracleum II Small Pendant Light, which looks like a modern tree hanging in a clean living room. In a smaller space, a simple design is more appropriate, such as the Sputnik Chandelier by Jonathan Adler. It's small but has impact.

Axo Light Avir 60

YL: Should a chandelier match the shape of the space, like with a long and narrow room?

JP: There really are no rules of thumb when it comes to shape — a square room can have a round chandelier and a round room can have a rectangular one. It's more the style of the chandelier that dictates it. The Stream Small Suspension Lamp by Terzani has a fluid shape like water cascading off the ceiling. It adds movement and character and lends itself to a bathroom or a woman's dressing room.

YL: Where are your favorite places to use a chandelier?

JP: Chandeliers that are clean-lined, like the Agnes, are great for the living room. For something more formal, the Louis Poulson Artichoke offers extra impact. I like to use chandeliers that glitter and sparkle in intimate, private rooms. I love chandeliers such as the Avir Light from Axo Light in a dressing room or the Bocci 28.19 Round in a powder room for drama.

Bocci 28.19 Round

YL: What about height? How far should you drop a chandelier?

JP: Generally, I like to keep them seven feet off the floor since you don't want people walking underneath to feel they are too close to their heads. For more intimacy, like over a dining table, you can suspend it a little lower. A great example of a versatile light that can be used at various heights is the Ingo Maurer ManOMan Suspension Light. It looks like lines drawn across the ceiling, so depending on the furnishings and the demands of the space, I could hang it high for more scattered light, or low for more drama.

Louis Poulson Artichoke
Louis Poulson Artichoke

YL: Is there any risk of chandelier overload?

JP: Yes. Chandeliers should be like pieces of art — why else hang them when you have general lighting to do the job? You could have two chandeliers in a room, but typically only if there are two separate seating arrangements. The Biza Line Voltage Linear Suspension Light doesn't scream "ornate" so it can be hung in pairs, but they should generally be far enough apart that they seem independent.

-Heidi Mitchell

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