Pendant lighting is not to be mistaken for chandelier lighting, which casts a softer more ambient light. Pendant lighting is usually hung from a single sconce on the ceiling from which sprouts a single chain or metal tube. The lamp shade itself is the "pendant" that dangles at the end.

Pendant lighting is considerably more practical than other types of lighting, which is why you often see them in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways and other places that need to be well lit. Usually the shade on a pendant style light fixture is completely enclosed and made out of a white, cream or opaque glass.

These pendant shades usually completely enclose the bulb although in the last decade, hat shaped or funnel shaped shades that are open at the end and that can be adjusted in height using adjustable wires are becoming quite common (especially as kitchen lighting fixtures in condominiums.) You often see them suspended in a row over a kitchen island in newly designed buildings or hanging high from a twenty-foot ceiling in a hallway.

Pendant style lampshades are almost as old as lighting itself with the earliest version being the bare naked light bulb hanging from a fabric cord from a ceiling. This style of pendant lighting is known as the Burnside.

Shades on pendant style lighting, which was first popularized in the forties in the form of gorgeous blown glass shells, have evolved to compromise all sorts of styles. Some of the most attractive styles of pendant lighting are inspired from this era which features glass globes that have been stepped or squared off with Art Deco touches. You can also find square or triangular open flute art deco shades that have wrought iron details and pastel colored glass panels.

Pendant style Tiffany lampshades are also quite striking looking but one problem with them is that they are not quite in style as a pendant. Floor lamps and table lamps look more contemporary then the hanging Tiffany lamps, which unfortunately can make your place, look too much like the interior of a chain restaurant.

Yet another style of pendant lighting that seems to never go out of style is the Colonial. This type of lighting features a shade that looks like a lantern with a candle inside. A similar style is the Storybook style, which is made of cast iron and hangs from a heavy chain. Both of these styles tend to look better out of doors but they were often found indoors in the seventies if you are going for that kind of "horse drawn carriage" reference in your décor.

Don't forget too that to be beautiful the stem of a pendant lampshade does not have to be really long. Shorter styles with stubbier tubes are reminiscent of the Edwardian and Art Deco eras and look contemporary and timeless at the same time. This is especially true if you can find a style that is shaped like a child's top, a trapezoid or deconstructed globe as these shapes are typical of this popular Mid-Century look in pendant lighting.