Pendant fixtures add area-specific task lighting to nearly any room in your home, but not every application requires the same mounting height. Factors to consider include whether you will be sitting or standing in the area, the height of people using the light and your room's architectural features. Suggested heights are merely a starting place; adjust the mounting height to your personal preference before installing the fixture.
Sitting vs. Standing
Pendant heights over dining tables and desks can be lower than lights over standing areas, such as a kitchen sink, countertop or pool table. Pendants that hang over walking areas, such as entryways with high ceilings, must be hung high enough to be out of the way of even your taller visitors. Mount your light 28 to 36 inches over sit-down areas, measuring from the table or countertop. Choose a 30- to 40-inch mounting height over standing areas, high bars, or the top edge of your kitchen sink. For pendants in walk-through areas, set the pendant no lower than 7 feet above the floor. All heights are measured to the bottom of the light fixture.
Make a fake pendant from a juice can or paper cone sized as closely as possible to your pendant. Hang this from a string attached to the ceiling with a tack. Use the area as you normally would and note whether or not the pendant gets in your way visually. If it is distracting as you sit around the table talking with your family, raise the faux pendant an inch or two higher on the string and try again. Keep adjusting until you are happy with the height, and then measure the distance from your lit surface to the bottom of the pendant. This is your mounting height, pending further adjustment.
View your faux pendant from all angles you would normally see it from. If the bottom lines up closely with other architectural features, such as the top of a window frame, consider raising or lowering the pendant 2 inches. The difference in height creates a more interesting appearance.
Fixture and Beam Size
Smaller pendant lights may look best at lower heights, while large pendants generally seem less ponderous when mounted higher. Additionally, fixtures that use "spot" style lamps (bulbs) will create narrower light beams than those that use "flood" style lamps. This means flood lamp fixtures can hang lower than spot styles yet cover the same size area. In general, the farther away your light is from the surface, the larger the light beam will be, within the limitations of the lamp.