Choosing the Best Size for a Foyer Chandelier

Foyer chandelier with geometric designs over black railing near staircase

The Spruce / Sophia Reay

The foyer is both one of the most important and one of the most overlooked areas in a home. It's not hard to see how this space might escape notice in smaller homes where the foyer is barely noticeable. But even in homes with grand entryways, this pass-through space often lacks both style and substance.

It deserves better treatment, though, because the foyer greets you when you come home and welcomes guests when they arrive. The foyer should set the tone for the rest of your home. Good lighting is one of the best ways to make sure your foyer makes a positive first impression. A foyer chandelier lights up the entryway with sophisticated style, but it can be tricky to choose the right size for a foyer chandelier and to hang it at just the right height.

Interior designers have general guidelines for choosing a chandelier diameter, height, and illumination that is in proportion to a foyer. Remember, too, that a foyer chandelier should generally hang in the exact center of the space.

The Height of the Chandelier Above the Floor

For design professionals, the rule of thumb is that the bottom of a hanging lighting fixture should be no closer than 7 feet above the floor. This design standard also applies to foyers with standard 8-foot-high ceilings, where it means that a hanging fixture if you use one at all, will need to be fairly small to stay at the recommended height. Where foyers are taller than this, the chandelier fixture should be elevated accordingly. In a single-story foyer where ceilings are 9 to 12 feet high, it is standard practice to elevate the chandelier so its bottom is no closer than 7 feet, 6 inches above the floor.

Where the foyer is two stories high, the design standard is to place the bottom of the chandelier so it is level with the second story. This means that the fixture may be at 8 feet above the floor or even higher.

The Diameter of the Chandelier Fixture

For interior designers, another rule of thumb guides the sizing of the chandelier itself. Choosing the diameter of a chandelier fixture involves adding the length and the width of the room together (measured in feet), then converting that measurement to inches. The resulting number is a proper diameter for the chandelier light fixture. For example, in a foyer that is 10 feet by 10 feet in size, the total is 20 feet; here, a 20-inch-diameter light fixture produces a good visual effect.

This rule of thumb may be altered in some circumstances. Where extra high ceilings exist, or where the chandelier hangs in a two-story foyer, the chandelier may be sized 2 or 3 inches larger in diameter to compensate for the fact that the extra height will make the chandelier look smaller.

The Height of Chandelier Fixture

The height of the room also plays into the recommended height of the chandelier fixture itself. The rule of thumb for designers is that the hanging lighting fixture should have 2 to 3 inches of height for each foot of ceiling height. For example, a 10-foot high foyer ceiling calls for a chandelier that is 20 to 30 inches in height. A foyer with a 16-foot high ceiling (two-story) could comfortably handle a large chandelier 32 to 48 inches in height.

Fixture Illumination

Light fixtures can offer many different levels of illumination, as measured by the total combined wattage of all bulbs in the fixture. For lighting experts, the practice is to tailor the illumination to the square footage of the foyer space, using a simple formula. Multiply the room length by the width, and that total by 1.5. This produces the wattage required by the combined bulbs in the ceiling fixture. For example, a 10 by 10-foot foyer has an area of 100 square feet; multiplied by 1.5, the appropriate wattage of the lighting fixture should be 150 watts. Note that this total wattage can be achieved by one or more light bulbs in the fixture.

Other Design Guidelines

Aside from determining physical measurements for the chandelier fixture, interior designers follow other guidelines when selecting a hanging chandelier fixture.

  • The foyer chandelier style should match the overall feel of your home. Sparkly crystals may look out of place in a Western lodge-style home, for example, while a sleek metal piece could be the perfect preview to a home with modern decor.
  • In a two-story foyer faced with windows, some designers recommend positioning the chandelier at the exact vertical center of the window space. This provides a welcoming illumination for visitors approaching your home from the outside.
  • A large, two-story foyer is best illuminated with a chandelier that has two or three tiers, allowing it to be visually attractive from the top of the stairs as well as from below.
  • A small foyer with low ceilings and an area that is 9 by 9 feet or less is usually best served with a ceiling-mounted light fixture, not a hanging chandelier. Small spaces may be overwhelmed by a hanging chandelier.