Cost Of Living: Chandeliers

Most of us don't have the budget or the ballroom to cope with a classical chandelier, and the mere thought of installing and maintaining one conjures up images of Del Boy and Rodney surrounded by shattered glass and twisted brass staring at an empty, chandelier-shaped space. But if you want to add a touch of grandeur to your home, there are chandeliers to suit most styles of decor.

Size and style are the two vital aspects you need to consider as your chandelier should complement the room rather than dominate it. An oversized piece will make a room feel small and cramped, while an antique piece in a modern room will just look odd.

There's a vast array of chandeliers available, ranging from the traditional crystal and wrought-iron variety, better suited to country manors and banquet halls, to contemporary alternatives made from lighter or often hollow metals, using less crystal droplets, and thus reducing the price significantly.

A chandelier's bulk may be enough to deter even a DIY enthusiast, but self-installation is feasible. Ensure power is switched off at the mains, and try to hang it where there is an existing electrical fitting, or employ a professional to install one. Most chandeliers come with installation guidance, but all will need to be attached to a joist to support their weight.

If you are not confined by cost or space, head to Grays antique market in London, where there are Victorian chandeliers from £800.

Chandeliers require minimal maintenance; the frame can be polished, and the crystals can be easily detached and rinsed in soap and warm water to retain their shine.

What it costs:

Three-branch frame without crystals – £80.

12-branch frame in bronze with crystals – £495.

Figures supplied by The Chandelier and Mirror Company: 01892832226;