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Pot lights or pendants – which should I choose for my living/dining room?

The question

I can afford to splurge on either pot lights or one fabulous pendant light in my living/dining room, but not both. Which way should I go?

The answer

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I am not a big fan of pot lights, but I do realize that they serve a purpose where ceiling height is low and hanging a ceiling fixture over a table isn't feasible.

In a combined living/dining room, however, ceilings should be high enough, so a pendant light would be awesome. Just be aware of the fixture's depth and that its underside should be about seven feet above the floor if it isn't over a table.

If it is above a table, five feet between the underside and the floor is the magic formula, allowing those seated to be able to see one another. The pendant lighting can have numerous light bulbs, thereby providing ample light for the entire space. Make sure that the fixture is on a dimmer for maximum flexibility.

And if you do go the pot light route, be sparing with how many you install, illuminating mainly the corners of the room. The idea is to supplement the (ideally fabulous) overhead light source with others on the table and/or throughout the room, including candles, sconces, table lamps and floor lamps.

Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is an architect and interior designer. Follow her on Twitter: @ddtaylordd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

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