Gordon James

Gordon James
How Do I Install My Chandelier?

Whether delicate and ornate or sleek and modern, the chandelier retains the same associations today as it has for centuries: those of a statement piece in interior decor, a focal point of strong lighting and a room’s aesthetic. Many of our recent projects have featured chandeliers in a variety of styles and settings. If you plan to include a chandelier in your interior renovation, read on to learn the basics of installation. While the instructions below apply most directly to a do-it-yourself approach, the information provided remains useful even to those leaving the installation to the professionals.

A modern metal Chandelier in a custom Gordon James home.

Chandelier Installation Basics

before doing anything, remember to turn off the electricity to the room you’re working on at the main electrical panel. Never attempt to work on live wires. Test the light switch in the room to confirm that the power is off. 

To start, unscrew and lower the existing fixture’s canopy (the disk against the ceiling) to access the electrical box. Then carefully remove the twist-on connectors from the wiring, double-checking there is no current, and remove the fixture. Replace the old electrical box with a new one, and install a fan brace to secure the array if needed. 

Next, the chandelier’s wiring. Before installing the fixture in the ceiling, make sure it will hang at the right hight. Thread the nipple first into the chandelier’s chain holder, then into the fixture-mounting bar. Feed the chandelier wires through the nipple. Lift the fixture and screw the mounting bar to the electrical box. You then connect the chandelier’s copper grounding wire. Next, strip ½ inch of insulation off the chandelier’s wiring. Connect the corresponding cable and chandelier wires before stowing them in the electrical box. Slide the chandelier’s canopy up the chain and press it tight against the ceiling, making sure the wires are tucked. Push the retaining collar up the chain, thread it onto the chain holder, and hand-tighten the collar to hold the canopy tight against the ceiling. Finally, install the lightbulbs and shades, then restore the power to the room. You’re finished!

A modern chandelier with crown molding around it in the living room of a custom Gordon James home.

Design Characteristics and Tips

There are several varieties of fixtures that fall under the category of “chandelier.” Classic chandeliers most typically refract light via the use of crystal prisms. contemporary chandeliers feature a more minimalist design, often of metal. Modern chandeliers combine these elements to varying degrees. As a general guideline for sizing purposes, add up the length and width of the room in feet and use the same number in inches for your fixture’s diameter. In the case of a dining-room chandelier, use a fixture one-half to three-quarters the width of the table. Hang the light 36 to 48 inches above the table. Choose the lower number for more intimacy, the higher one if you want to stand when toasting.

A high-ceiling living room that features a wide, circular chandelier in a Gordon James custom home.

Two modern art-house chandeliers that hang and accent a living room in a custom Gordon-James home.


Now that you’ve got a more solid background on the design and installation process of chandeliers, you’ll be able to select a beautiful and functional fixture for your home. Though the considerations listed above may seem complex, rest assured that Gordon James will handle all facets of installation with skill and technical acumen. Contact us today, and we’ll light the way to a lovely new home interior!