Buying Guides

Buying guide: Chandeliers

Buying guide: Chandeliers Author: Style At Home

Buying Guides

Buying guide: Chandeliers

Chandeliers add an elegant touch to any room in the house. In recent years, we've seen them take flight in grand kitchens, feminine baths and whimsical kids' rooms, in addition to the formal foyers and dining rooms where they've traditionally held court. Here's what you should know if you're in the market for one, whether new or antique.

Style
No doubt you know chandeliers come in a variety of styles. Many replicate an ornate, historic look. But if your tastes run modern and you want something a bit more glam than pendant lights, contemporary chandeliers are the answer.

The best way to find a chandelier that matches your style is to see what you like at the decorating stores you already frequent (or by perusing magazines). Once you have an inkling of the styles you gravitate towards, trips to lighting superstores will be less overwhelming.

Pricing
Chandeliers run the gamut from inexpensive to très chère.

Over the past five years or so, major retailers have made leaps and bounds when it comes to offering affordable, high-quality and stylish chandeliers. (TIP Home Depot has a reputation among design insiders for its cheap 'n' chic selection.)

Keep in mind that "used" doesn’t automatically mean "bargain-priced." True, well-priced and eco-friendly salvaged pieces can be found at flea markets, online and at Habitat ReStores. But exquisitely refurbished antique chandeliers can command prices well into the thousands of dollars!

Wiring
If you buy a new chandelier, everything you need to mount it will be included in the box, and, of course, the wiring will be up to date. This may not be the case when you buy a used one, however. Fortunately, rewiring an old chandelier is an easy task for experienced DIYers. Not you? Don't fret. It can be done at any lighting repair shop or you can hire a handyman to rewire and install it for you the same day.

Image courtesy of Restoration Hardware

Location scouting
Chandeliers look great in almost any room. Keep in mind that if you have ceilings under nine feet tall, however, a chandelier may make them appear low. You might want to consider a pair of ornate wall sconces with chandelier-inspired crystal drops and filigreed metal work instead.

If you must hang a chandelier in a room with a less-than-lofty ceiling height, hang it high enough that it doesn’t become a safety issue (no bumped heads, please!), and if possible, mount it over a table so it doesn’t impede foot traffic.

Moisture can be an enemy to wiring and electrical systems. So if you’re in the market for a bathroom chandelier, a good rule of thumb is, if it's going within six feet of the tub or shower, only buy a model rated for "wet" or "shower location" use.

Crystals
The crystal pendants or drops on a chandelier can be replaced if chipped or missing. If you want to add some colour, try pink, topaz or pale blue accent crystals, especially in a child's room or nursery.

"Crystals" are usually made of glass, or, in more expensive pieces, lead crystal. Acrylic is another material, but less desirable as it often has a very "plastic" appearance.

Maintenance
You'll have to clean your chandelier about once a season to remove dust (and oil residue in the case of a kitchen chandelier). Keep this in mind when shopping. The more intricate the crystal swags and drops, the more painstaking your cleaning will be!

Image courtesy of Restoration Hardware

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Buying Guides

Buying guide: Chandeliers