Selecting the right dining room light doesn’t have to be complicated, but there are a lot of options when it comes to pendant lighting, linear suspensions and chandeliers. Here are a few of our top dining room lighting tips for choosing the right light for your space.
Choose 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 are an easy match for round tables, and a linear fixture goes well over a rectangular or extension table. A more flexible option is to have multiple pendants arranged to complement the shape of the table, either grouped together for circular tables or in a row for rectangular tables.
Do the Math
The dining room light should be at least 12 inches smaller than the table in all directions. For a 4-foot-wide table, look for a light that’s no more than 2 feet wide.
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.
Get Hung Up
Dining lights should hang about 30 inches above the surface of the table. Keep in mind suspension length when choosing a fixture.
Set the Mood
If you want multiple brightness settings for certain moods or times of day, consider adding a dimmer switch with a dining room chandelier—but make sure the fixture itself is dimmable (note: installing a dimmer and a light fixture that is dimmable are two different, but important, things).
Layer the Light
A decorative chandelier in the dining room generally offers a low level of light output—they’re about setting the mood and drawing the eye to the center of a room. For a more functional style of lighting, add layers of light with recessed lights and wall sconces. And if you need a bright amount of light in the dining room, look to an LED chandelier.
Get the Brightness Just Right
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. The right combination of ceiling and wall lights creates a pleasingly lit effect.
When using a series of pendants as your primary dining table lighting, keep in mind the length of the table when determining where to hang them. Ensure that the entire table gets a consistent amount of light by spacing the lamps according to how long the table is and how many people you expect to be seating.
Drop the Bar
Suspension bars are a great way to hang pendants without wiring each light directly from the ceiling. Adjustable length cords ensure that the height of the pendants are all correctly scaled for the table without requiring multiple lighting sockets.
Multiply the Focus
Add visual drama to your dining room with a series of pendant lamps in compatible styles. Choose pendants with similar color tones or shapes, then layer them in at different heights to create a striking centerpiece.
Create an Atmosphere
For a darker, moodier tone in your dining room lighting, consider a dual-function light fixture. Look for one that provides soft, diffused ambient light with enough glow that the room is functionally lit, but also enough direct down light so that the table is illuminated for eating.
Keep it in the Family
In a small space, a tight grouping of pendants from the same design family, but in slightly different shapes, gives an appealing visual impact while not taking up a lot of room. By hanging them close together they appear as one fixture, rather than a series of varying ones. Look for metal tones or other features that complement your existing decor, but don’t overwhelm it.
Subtle Design, High Impact
Pendant lighting with deconstructed, architectural designs is a great way to add personality and character without being over the top. Subtle cutouts or unusual woodwork provide detail and complexity while softly filtering the light.
Light the Candles
For a modern take on a candelabra, consider a structured, geometric shape with incandescent bulbs. The lower wattage gives off a glow resembling candlelight, while the modern filaments still provide plenty of light.
Get the Skinny
When selecting a suspension lamp, consider the cords and wires it hangs from. Ultra-modern fixtures often look best with ultra-slender suspension cords that seem to disappear, making the fixture appear to float.
Bring Nature In
Give a modern dining room a bit of softness and glam with a chandelier that plays with organic elements and elegance. In a room with strong, clean angles, a pendant lamp that pulls from natural elements like branches or flowers gives a stylistic, complementary impact to the design.
Mix and Match
Add visual interest by contrasting the shapes of the central light fixture against those of the room. A circular lamp with round shades is juxtaposed against more angular furniture. Keep similar tones in the materials to make it feel cohesive and curated.
Change in Place
To hang a lighting fixture at the exact-right height, look for a linear suspension lamp, pendant or chandelier with field-adjustable cords and cables. This allows for modifications to the hanging height of the light at the time of installation, ensuring a perfect fit.
Modern dining room lighting is supremely versatile, with solutions for every situation. From contemporary to restoration styles, LED linear suspensions to traditional crystal chandeliers—dining room lighting serves up purpose and style with every beautifully illuminated meal.