I field questions all the time related to how big a rug or chandelier should be, or how high to hang artwork. In this month’s column, I thought I’d share answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. How big should my dining room chandelier be?
A. Add the length and width of the room in feet. That number, in inches, would be a good diameter for that light fixture. For example, if your dining room is 15 feet x 20 feet, then a 35-inch-diameter chandelier would be a good choice.
Q. Speaking of chandeliers, how high should it hang above my table?
A. Generally speaking, it should hang 36-42” above the table. Have a helper hold it at 36” above the table, stand back and look at it, then adjust accordingly.
Q. What size should my curtains be?
A. This comes up all the time! If you’re buying ready-made curtain panels, it is tough because the panels come in fixed sizes. If you want the panels to cover the window completely, and look nice and full, you will need to buy several of them, so that their total width adds up to 2 to 3 times the width of the window. Here’s how to figure it out: Let’s say your window is 72” wide. The total width of your curtain panels should be 144” to 216”. Since ready-made panels typically come in 50” widths, you should buy 3 or 4 panels. Your rod should be the width of the window plus about 10-12” on each side. So in this case, you would buy a 92-96” rod. For height, taller is always better, so measure the top of the window down to the floor and add at least 6” to get the height you need. A dry cleaner who offers alterations or a nice friend who sews, can hem your panels, or sew them together for you. If your budget allows, consider custom-made drapes and panels— then the sizing will always be perfect.
Q. How high should my artwork hang?
A. Most people hang artwork much too high. Aim to hang your artwork so the center is at 57”-60” up from the floor. Trust me on this! If you’re hanging multiple pieces in a wall gallery, start with the largest piece, hang it with the center at 57”-60” from the floor, then arrange the other pieces around it. If you’re hanging artwork above a sofa or buffet, hang it anywhere between 57”-66” on center depending on the height of the furniture and height of your ceilings. The larger the artwork, the closer it should be to the furniture below it. Shoot for 4-8” above the top of the furniture, and at least 4” down from the ceiling/moulding.
Q. What size should my area rug be?
A. Always aim for larger over smaller rugs. When a rug is so small that only the coffee table can sit on top, it looks out of proportion. For a living room seating arrangement, at minimum, make sure the rug is large enough so it touches the front legs of all of your furniture. If the room is very large, and your furniture “floats” in the middle, measure the seating arrangement and add approximately 10-18” to each side to make sure the all the furniture is sitting on the rug. However, be sure to allow for 12″-24″ of bare floor from the edge of the rug to the wall.
Q. How much space should I allow between my sofa and coffee table?
A. Many living rooms I go to have their furniture much too far apart for conversation. I’ve seen rooms where the sofas are placed on opposite walls, with the coffee table in the center, floating all by itself. This is too much distance. If this is you, move the furniture much closer together, especially sofas and chairs. Coffee tables can be as close as 12 inches from the edge of the seating. Your seating arrangement will feel more comfortable, and be much more conducive to socializing.