The Different Types of Pendant Lights and How to Use Them

The Different Types of Pendant Lights and How to Use Them
Photo: Olga Prava, Shutterstock

Pendant lighting is an easy way to update your home without the hassle of an intense rewiring project. (It’s also a semi-permanent change you can make to your apartment that adds character without pissing off your landlord.) Pendant lights come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, from sconces and hanging lights, to can-shaped pendants or antique Edison bulbs for a more vintage feel. Each style gives off its own vibe — and lights the room in a different way.

Here are different types of pendant lights and how to best make use of them in your home.

How to choose a shade pendant light

The look of a pendant light can change drastically depending on what you put around it. Shade pendant lights have an opening at the bottom of the shade and generally hang over a space from the ceiling. (For those hanging without wiring, you’ll need to install a hook — or hooks — in the ceiling to string the light up and hang down over the desired area.) But the shade choice itself is where you can get really creative with style and vibe.

A pendant light’s shade can be made of a variety of materials, including wicker, copper, brass, porcelain, or a classic black metal, like you might see in modern office buildings. Think about how the shade will coordinate in your space and control and direct the spread of the light. Wicker baskets will cast a unique shadow, for example, while copper and black shades will give ample lighting and a more industrial feel.

How to use drum pendant lights

Drum pendant lights are hanging lights with large circular shades surrounding the bulb. They are considered closed shade lights often made of canvas or other fabric material of soft tones of beige, grey, or other neutral colours for a more minimalist design effect. However, you can get a little more funky with drum lights made of bronze wire for a distressed look, or dripping in crystals as a glamorous chandelier.

Drum lights are often found above dining room tables for comfortable, soft lighting during meals, or in a living room or master bedroom.

How to use multi-bulb pendant lights

Multi-bulb pendant lights are three bulbs usually connected by a horizontal arm that allows them to cover more area. These lights are commonly seen over kitchen islands to give off ample light for food prep, or over the basement bar area for a “pub” look.

More modern styles also tend to veer away from the linear structure and might have three bulbs on two different arms going in opposite directions. This pendant style can become something of a functional piece of art.

How to hang plug-in cord pendant lights

Plug-in pendant lights are another versatile option for hanging lights. The cords are sometimes braided cloth, plain black, or adorned with a chain or other materials. The bulb is attached to its long cord, like any pendant light, but the cord itself is an essential part of the light’s style.

To hang a plug-in pendant, attach a decorative hook on the wall and tightly wrap the cord around the hook. The bulb will hang close to the wall, like a sconce. You can leave the bulb bare or purchase an open shade for a sconce-like look. You could also hang multiple bulbs above a dining room table with a hook on the ceiling to feed the cord through to create a hanging-chandelier effect; add a soft drum shade; or leave the bulbs exposed for an industrial look.

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