hanging light fixture in stairase - how low?

storkladyAugust 27, 2011

For the first time I'm in a two story house. The staircase is not lit and really needs to be. It is a straight staircase...no landing with a turn to another set of stairs. I'd like to use sconces - but it would be an ordeal to get electricity to the wall...so we are going to hang a fixture from the ceiling. How large should it be? How far should it hang? What are the "rules" about hanging a fixture in the stairwell. I'm open to ANY suggestions. Thanks in advance.

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abundantblessings

Although many hang them higher, I like chandeliers to be a two to three feet above a person's head usually. Enough room to make transporting furniture easy, but not so much that the beauty of the fixture is lost. That usually equates to the bottom of the fixture between 8 1/2' and 9' from the ground. If you have a palladium or transom window above the entrance door, you can use that to guage where you'd position the light.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 5:43PM
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storklady

Thank you abundant. I agree with your comment about not wanting the beauty of the fixture to be lost. I WISh I had a transom. The stairs are in the center of the house...near the kitchen and go straight up. It's an interior staircase...walls on each side. It's like a long ugly dark tunnel. So I really have no landmark to guide the fixture. I'd love some more advice. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 9:34PM
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abundantblessings

I know you meant more advice from others and I hope you get it. This is a difficult wkend for many GWers so you have to be a bit more patient and maybe bump this later.

However, I wanted to add that even though you might not have a transom, you can use the placement of an imaginary one as a guide.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 9:41PM
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storklady

Oh, I didn't mean to imply I'm impatient or anxious for reponses. I am just lost on the subject and would appreciate advice when anyone cares to give it. I'm a life long resident of New Orleans so I'm completely experienced in hurricanes. As far as using an imaginary transom as a guide...that's a stretch for me due to the layout of the staircase, but I appreciate the thought.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:01PM
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abundantblessings

Small world, I'm from NOLA too.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:07PM
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chibimimi

What kind of fixture are you hanging? If it's a bowl fixture, you want it high enough that you won't be looking down into it, seeing the lightbulbs, from the top of the staircase. Whether bowl or something else, you also don't want it so low that it feels like you run into it on the way down.

We recently remodeled and added three light fixtures to our staircase. The top one is a recessed can to light the top steps. About halfway down is a pendant, hung 10' above the tread beneath it. Near the bottom is a matching pendant, hung again at 10 feet above the tread below. This set of lights lights the stairs evenly with few shadows -- a safety as well as aesthetic consideration. Can you add two or three lights instead of just one?

If you are hanging only one, will it be about halfway down? If so, it should probably hang slightly above the eye height at the top of the stairs.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:18PM
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storklady

abundant: small world indeed!

chibimimi: Thanks so much. I do believe 2 lights will make a huge difference. There is no reason we can't wire for a 2nd light..other than the fact my DH will roll his eyes. haha. Oh, well, that's easy to get around. :-)

If anyone else has a suggestion I'm all ears. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 12:28PM
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GreenDesigns

Be careful with the height clearances. You don't need any headbanging here! If the fixture is directly over the stairs, then you want a 6'6" person to be able to walk up and down those stairs without hitting their head on it. It's not a problem for an entry way, but it can be a problem for a stairway.

Another option to add light to the area is to use tread lights on the stairs. Running the wiring to them is much easier because presumably you have some form of access under the stairs.(Have the electrician put an outlet next to your newel post while he's doing the wiring for the stairs. Your holiday decorating will thank you.) If you chose LED, the electrical requirements wouldn't be burdensome, and you wouldn't have to change the bulbs for 50 years. They can add a nice safety feature and also be a cool architectural detail.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 12:39PM
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blfenton

How high is your ceiling above the staircase?

We have a light hanging in the staircase and the bottom of the fixture is 10' off of the stair over which it hangs. I put it at that height so that I look at it direct on when standing at the top of the stairs. The fixture is probably 3' high and then hangs on a chain.
Height wise I could have probably done 8 1/2' - 9' off the stair step and that would have been enough clearance for moving furniture etc.
Don't know if this helps or not.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 4:52PM
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storklady

Yes, every suggestion helped as I have zero experience in lighting staricases and I've never paid much attention when visiting friends who have them. Thanks again very much to all of you.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 10:18PM
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