3 Tips for Hanging Light Fixtures in Your Home


The most important thing to consider when you’re selecting a hanging light fixture is determining what it is you need to illuminate. A dimly lit and warmly diffused hanging lamp may be just the thing to make a romantic dinner even more wonderful. That same light over your kitchen work space may lead to a lot of bandages and possibly stitches.

Focused, bright task light is critically important to spaces you work in. whether it’s your craft bench or your butcher block, adjustable lighting can make your work a lot more precise, and therefore enjoyable.

Adjustable lampsoffer a terrific way to add focus to your kitchen island. When you’re done preparing dinner these lights can be adjusted high for a nice soft focus over the surface. The telescoping arms offer cooks the chance to place strong light on detail oriented tasks. This fixture could also be reversed and mounted to a desktop for multiple task lighting options in the future. Thus, this fixture is an ideal pick for a renter!

Light fixtures do more than hold a bulb. Ann Hoevel of CNN Living features charming hanging lamps across the top of a make-up mirror for burst of brightness in a flat black light fixture. This image (#6 in the series) features a clear bulb in a tiny black carriage house lamp fixture, a charming addition to a private vanity.

Mooi Ball lights offer terrific diffusion to a single bulb for a soft glow in a hall or a child’s bedroom. Architect Thomas Shaffer creates a whimsical path down a long hall with globes of different sizes and varying heights for a gentle yet bright combination of shadows and warm light. This image offers great contrast between the low, square windows marching along in rigid lockstep and each globe, uniquely placed along the hall.

Hanging lights need not be a large expense. Big box retailers including Target and Ikea offer hanging lamps with metal and glass shades for focused or ambient light, and for most of them all that is required is an outlet and a ceiling hook.

If you’ve never hung a light before, there are a few things to consider. Vermont Industries said, “To hang something heavy, you need to place your screw in a joist.” A stud finder can help you locate a ceiling joist if your ceiling finish is flat. While wall studs are sixteen inches apart, many ceiling joists are two feet apart, so keep that in mind when looking for a ceiling joist. If your ceiling has a popcorn finish, you’ll need to knock on it to find the joists. You’ll hear a difference as you knock; when you find the joist, the tapping sound gets a little higher. Away from the joist, the knocking sound is dull.

Wear safety goggles! Ceiling work is messy, and stuff may fall on your face and in your eyes. If you’ve got a drill, make small pilot holes when you think you’ve found the joist. You’ll have less patching to do if you miss, and once you hit, you can enlarge the hole. Screw the hook firmly into the joist. If you have a hard time turning it, it’s working. Clamping a vise grip to your hook can make give you some leverage and make it easier to turn. Once your hook is secure, you can hang your lamp without worrying about the hook coming loose. Plug it in and you’re done!

Contact an electrician for any permanent wiring project. Electricity is nothing to experiment with. Even if you’ve had good luck changing out an outlet, standing on a ladder with a light fixture, a drill, and a wiring diagram is a challenge even for a professional. Be safe!