There's a formula for calculating chandelier size. I'm documenting it here for you to bookmark for future reference.
Room Length (in feet)
Room Width (in feet)
Pendant/Chandelier Diameter (in inches)
It generally works. But the room boundaries aren't always entirely clear. And you have to make sure your chandelier plays nicely with the island pendants, or foyer sconces, and/or whatever else is nearby. And that it's hung at the right height.
Rules. Bah. Remember what Picasso did with them? Learned them; mastered them; threw them out.
Take this instance. We're working for my favorite local residential realtor right now who is moving her offices from a very old building full of hallways and small rooms, to a wide open new(ish) white storefront. The aesthetic we're going for is all white, industrial/modern/minimalist. Her conference room will face the street and needs to be an eye-catcher, beckoning behind the big front windows to potential clients strolling and driving by.
Theoretically, in the 12' x 10' conference room, the pendant should be 22" diameter.
As designers, sometimes we're asked to advise on the fly: what color would you paint this room? What upholstery pattern would look best in this corner? What size pendant do I need? And sometimes we have formulas or hunches based on our education and experience. Often, however, we have to try things out—in 3D or at least in 2D—before we can feel comfortable advising, especially for large purchases that we want you to be happy about.
In this realtor's conference room, then, the 26" Peel Pendant works. It's a 26" sphere. The 25" diameter Nelson saucer lamp should be a good alternative.
But it isn't. It's too small.
The client loves the three pendant version of the Nelson, which holds three Nelson shades up to 19" each.
The table is only 5' across, and the room is small, but this is an arrangement that has to project beyond the walls of the space, out onto the sidewalk and street. And the ceiling is, like, 20' high. So much for rules.
All of these pendants, by the way, are well under $500, except the triple, which comes in at around $1000. Trying to keep costs low for a client who is having to change all her business cards and pay for not-so-fun things like cable and phone wiring, we found this, our favorite option.
Coming in at just $325 retail price, you have to fit together its 69 plastic pieces. But, hey! It says anyone can do it, and I believe them. Or you could outsource it to your spouse, teenager, or favorite handyman. This light works because its jagged edges contrast with the smooth lines of the tulip style table and Eames chairs. The large Nelson, though a good size at 36", doesn't have the POW of Norm. We love Norm.
The moral: know the rules. And know when to toss them out.
Next time maybe we'll tackle pendant height.