Pick a light fixture that relates to the dining room table, not the room itself—in terms of size, shape and style. Round fixtures like chandeliers go best with round tables, whereas linear fixtures look their best with rectangular tables.
The dining room light should be at least 12 inches smaller than the table in all directions. So for a 4-foot wide table, you want to look for a light that's no more than 2 feet wide. This measurement creates the accurate spread of light over the table that you need.
For proportion, linear suspension lights should be anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of the length of the table. Linear pendants and chandeliers are the ideal choice for long, rectangular dining tables or extension tables.
All dining lights should hang about 30 inches above the surface of the table (no need for face-to-light contact with a tall uncle). You'll want keep in mind suspension length when choosing a fixture.
If you like it then you shoulda put a dimmer on it – install a dimmer switch with a dining room chandelier, and make sure the fixture itself is dimmable (note: installing a dimmer and a light fixture that is dimmable are two different, but important, things). The line of contemporary dimming switches from Legrand Adorne fit well in almost any dining room by blending in with walls and existing decor.
A decorative chandelier in the dining room generally offers a low level of light output—they're really about setting the mood and drawing your eye to the center of a room. For a more functional style of lighting, use layers of light with recessed lights, wall sconces, etc. And if you need a bright amount of light in the dining room, look to an LED chandelier.
When adding layers of light, think vertically—layers from the ceiling to floor—and horizontally—layers from one side of the room to the other. With the right combination of ceiling and wall lights, you'll create the perfect layered room.
Determining the necessary wattage requires a bit of math—we like this tip from Kichler Lighting: Multiply the width by the length of the room. Multiply that number by 1.5. That equals the amount of wattage for general light in the room.