Begin With The Table
Get the full picture of how the fixture will look in the room. Place the table in the exact location where it will be used. Use a tape measure to find the center of the table. Mark the center by placing a masking tape "X" over it. A standard height for the bottom of the fixture to the top of the table is anywhere between 30 and 36 inches. Create a visual marker by taping or tacking a piece of string to the ceiling to represent the fixture. Make it hang straight by attaching a small weight to the bottom of the string. Place its end at the decided upon height and step back to view.
Check The View
Assemble the light fixture for hanging. Gain the assistance of a helper or two to complete this test. Stand on a ladder and hold the light above the center of the table. Have one or several people sit at the table with a tape measure or yardstick. Place the measuring tool in a vertical position at the center of the table, and dangle the fixture at varying heights until there is agreement about what works best. Thirty to 36 inches is usually more than enough room to see others across the table. Passing food back and forth usually works just fine at that span. Set on the table a favorite pair of candlesticks, a vase or other tall items that are often used at the table. Have several helpers view the table from a distance before settling on a final height.
Decor May Matter
Contemporary decor may call for the fixture to drop to around 28 to 32 inches so that it can interact visually with the furniture. A longer table may be able to support a higher lighting fixture, but smaller tables may look better with a lower-hung fixture. Diffusers can be added to pendant fixtures if bulbs are viewable at taller heights. Diffusers allow the light through but cover the bulb.