As every designer knows, lighting can make or break a room. It not only adds much needed illumination overall, but the right lighting can add drama, creating a cheerful, dramatic space or a cozy, intimate one or bring focus to specific areas of the room, such a piece or artwork or a main architecture fixture, such as a fireplace or a kitchen aisle.

Pendant lighting has become very popular in homes in the last few years, largely because of its flexibility as well as its ability to add light to specific areas of a room, such as over a dining room table or kitchen counter tops. These lights can be suspended from the ceiling in any number of ways. Some are hung from cords, others by chains while still others can be set on metal rods so that they can be easily adjusted as room décor is changed and moved around.

There is really an endless array of pendant lighting solutions on the market these days, one to suit nearly ever style and personal taste around. Many of these fixtures are extremely energy efficient too, certainly much more than their larger, more traditional counterparts.

Pendant lighting is best when it is used as supplemental lighting. In other words, all spaces in your home should have a certain level of ambient illumination. This can be accomplished through recessed ceiling lights, down lighting techniques, which shed light on specific areas, or through the use of ceiling fixtures such as chandeliers.

The secondary lighting strategy for the room would be more task oriented. These lights illuminate specific areas of the room, such as a table lamp that can be used for reading when set next to a sofa or a floor lamp that illuminates a couple of chairs paired together.

These lighting solutions are great for adding drama to a room, such as when you want to leave the general lighting off entirely or dimmed so that you can bring focus to certain areas. Pendant lighting works well for this too, particularly in the kitchen or dining room. That's because these lights, like spotlights in a theater, can be aimed to specific locations, such as the kitchen counter or the island in the center of the kitchen. Or they can be strategically located over the dining room table, replacing a traditional chandelier. If your dining room is large enough, you could also consider adding a second set of pendants over the buffet or sideboard.

When deciding where and how to use pendant lighting, first consider the function they should serve. You can use them individually, pair them or use several in a row. A single pendant is great over a small table, such as a dinette or bistro table in the kitchen. For longer areas, you can run multiple pendants while pendants for a kitchen counter can be mounted wherever additional lighting is needed, such as over the sink, a prep area, island or stove.

If you're placing pendants above a workspace or table, they should ideally be mounted 30" to 36" above the surface. This allows you to get maximum lighting without the pendant fixture getting in the way. If you simply don't have the space to put them up this high, you may want to go with accent, track or recessed lighting options instead.

When thinking about placement, consider hanging the lights temporarily before putting hardware in place. This will allow you to experiment with placement to ensure the lights don't create harsh shadows or fail to light the desired area adequately.

One of the great things about pendants is that they can really add visual interest to your space as well as illumination. Some pendants on the market today have remarkable aesthetics, elevating them to pieces of art. Not only can pendants add splendor to your room, but artistry as well.