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Dining Room Lighting Ideas: From Everyday to Entertaining

July 30, 2018

Turning Your Dining Room Lighting Ideas into Reality

The dining room is the heart of the family, the place we come together to share everything from grand parties to the daily moments that define our lives. Home work and holidays, checkers and celebrations, the dining room table is the center meeting place for family life. In this 101 we share some ideas and tips on how to get the perfect glow for all activities and occasions.

Your dining space is the incarnation of your home life and hospitality. The lighting fixtures choices you make are going to do a lot of the heavy lifting in defining the space. Thinking about style, the number of light fixtures, different metal finishes are all worth considering. To start moving forward, take a moment to think about how you want your family and guests to feel. Pare down the sea of choices by gathering some concepts and ideas. Is your dining room contemporary or more mid-century? Do you like drama or simplicity? More timeless and traditional or show-stopping?

Overhead and wall lighting.

General Overhead Lighting

The chandelier is the traditional choice for ceiling lighting in a dining area. Chandeliers act as the focal point in the room and a great opportunity to make a design statement. Suspended above the dining room table, it can provide enough light for visibility while creating the an inviting atmosphere.

What shape fixture should I choose for my table?

You don’t have to match the shape of the chandelier to the shape of the table, but it’s good starting point to finding a light fixture that will compliment the table. You’ll find that often long tables are paired with longer, more linear chandeliers and round tables are paired with round chandeliers. This isn’t a concrete rule, and sometimes the most striking choices make the best dining areas.

How big should my dining room chandelier be?

Matching a chandelier to a big dining room or a small dining room is a matter of balance. On average, the width of the lighting fixture should be approximately one half of the size of the table. Another way to work it out is to measure the length and width of your dining room in feet and add those numbers together. The number you calculate should be the width of your chandelier in inches. For example, an 8 x 10’ room would require a chandelier with an 18” diameter.

While it’s the most common lighting choice, a chandelier isn’t the only direction available for main lighting in the dining room. Instead of a singular, central light fixture, many dining rooms have multiple pendants staggered over the length of the table.

Hot Tips:

  • The bottom of a suspended dining room fixture should rest at about 32-34” above the table.
  • Opt for lower wattage/lumen bulbs in your dining room fixtures. Very bright bulbs can cause a harsh, unwanted glare in the dining space.
  • For control of the room’s ambiance and to diversify the pendants or chandelier’s function, add a wall dimmer.

Illuminating the Decor

To round out the overhead light and to grant full illumination to any art or other unique pieces displayed in your dining room, add a few strategic sconces. Flanking special objects with sconces highlights them within the space and allows you or your guests to fully see and experience the beauty of your art or decor.

Ambient Lighting

Dining room lighting ideas aren’t limited to the walls and ceilings. Additional light sources throughout the space presents a sense of rhythm and directs attention around the whole room. A credenza/console/buffet in your dining room is a great location for adding a touch of ambient light. A decorative table lamp on one of the sides will add depth and texture to the lighting scheme. Feature your bar or hutch with a unique fixture or detail light.

Adding decorative elements to the space keeps it fresh and current. A lit centerpiece adds a sense of fun or seasonal appeal while providing an inviting glow. Taper candles and candle sticks are a traditional, elegant route. Special occasions are a great excuse to try ideas that are more creative and unexpected. Garlands with fairy lights or a decorative lantern are festive and versatile.