On the bright side

Choosing a chandelier can be hard. Keeping it clean can be even harder. Here are some experts' suggestions on how to tackle both challenges:

Selection

Size and purpose: Consider the length of the fixture, interior designer Lara Fishman says. How far down will it hang? Is it surface-mounted? Do you want it to be decorative or functional? In a baby's room, a chandelier may be used for sparkle, but in a larger room, it may need to be brighter.

Scale: Don't be put off by large chandeliers, Fishman says. The boundaries of scale can be pushed a bit.

Cleaning No ammonia: "If it's a crystal chandelier, there is no easy way to clean it," says Peter Manukyan, owner of Filament Lighting in L.A., which specializes in the restoration of old fixtures. Spray cleaners that contain ammonia can hurt the metal parts of fixtures, he says. They can also affect wiring and sockets.

Vinegar, soap: Clean removable parts with dish detergent or, better yet, vinegar and water. Wipe down immovable parts with a good cloth.

Maintenance: Smoking and cooking can leave a film and attract dust. "Keep the dust off as much as possible," Manukyan says. "Then you won't have a bigger mess." Dust regularly or used canned air — the same kind used for computer keyboards.

Resources

Flea markets: They're a great resource not only for old chandeliers, but also for parts. Meredith Clark likes the markets in Long Beach and Santa Monica and at Pasadena City College and the Rose Bowl.

Salvage yards: Clark recommends Freeway Building Materials in Boyle Heights and Silverlake Yards in Silver Lake. She also says Liz's Antique Hardware on La Brea Avenue is great for crystals and other parts.

Online: Fishman has ordered Swarovski crystals from and .

-- Lisa Boone

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