What is the best lighting for a dining room?
Lighting for a dining room table
How to fix off centre dining room light?
Dining room lighting checklist
A dining room or dining space is used for both casual get-togethers and formal gatherings. Be it an open plan or an enclosed space, it is the hub of entertaining. While it can be a simple setting with a sizeable dining table, lighting is often used to make a statement. As it is a space used for entertaining, visual appeal and atmosphere matter, and lighting greatly influences both. Whether it’s just family around the table or a special occasion for guests, lighting ensures a space is usable and inviting.
What is the best lighting for a dining room?
Dining room lighting, as with any other zone, is dependent on the dimensions of the overall space. However, the focal point of a dining room should be the table, as much of the time is spend seated together around it. Overhead lighting is key here and is intended to provide optimum lighting to the table. That being said, there are other lighting options to be considered to make the room balanced and aesthetically pleasing. And this can be done by introducing accent lighting. Dining lights should fall into these two layers of lighting and contribute to a comfortable and inviting space. We explore how best to tackle these two layers of lighting.
This encompasses overhead or ambient lighting that serves as the main source of illumination in a space. In a dining room, this is also the source of light for the dining table. A centred ceiling light, such as a single flush mount or pendant above the table is suitable and adequate for a small space or nook, however, a combination of fixtures is ideal to illuminate and style a large room. A simple example would be downlights mounted evenly across the ceiling of an open plan space, supplemented with the centred fixture above a table.
The ideal light output for a dining room can vary based on the dimensions of the space and even the occasion. Dimmers give you a ‘one size fits all’ solution. For instance, bright lighting is suited for a large festive gathering while low light is desirable for a simple family dinner. Combining your light fixtures with dimmers allows you to adjust levels of lighting as needed. Using smart bulbs is another versatile solution. It is the latest light bulb technology that uses Wi Fi and smartphone applications to moderate lighting. Creating the atmosphere you desire has never been easier, as its colour temperature settings can be controlled via app or voice.
Over dining table lighting is often an opportunity to make a statement. These are centrepiece lighting such as a chandeliers, linear lights or clusters of pendants to draw attention and focus. It is important to get the right dimensions and position of this lighting for a well-proportioned look. Read further down on lighting over a dining table.
The diverse styles and materials used for dining room pendant lights and chandeliers mean that you can customise your look to suit your décor. We explore a few material choices and the impact they have on a space.
Clear glass: Be it a chandelier or a pendant, clear glass designs bring a lightness to a space. Due to its light permeability, glass makes a bright feature and offers a means to add elegance and sophistication. While glass comes in a combination of materials and designs, simple clear glass lighting is often used in contemporary and minimalist spaces.
Metal: Although often used as trims and frames to accent other materials, metal on its own produces a vastly different effect. Steel shades in a choice of finishes or brass lights either with a polished or aged patina bring a vintage industrial character. In addition to its stylistic features, metal shades cast more focussed lighting over a table.
Opal glass: In contrast to clear glass, opal shades diffuse light to a greater degree to create a softer illumination. The finish also evokes a timeless look ideal for classic interiors. Alternately, opal globes paired with clean frames or suspension cords complement contemporary décor styles.
Fabric: Whether it’s a single fabric pendant or a series of shades, fabric designs come in a wide range of colours and designs. As fabric diffuses and softens light, it is an ideal way to add ambience and atmosphere with darker fabrics creating a moody effect.
Wicker: Wicker is often used in pendant lighting and is a suitable choice for the more informal settings. Due to their natural and rustic finish they often feature in farmhouse dining room light fixtures. So, if it’s a touch of warmth you want, wicker is ideal for casual dining spaces.
Rope: An ideal material choice for casual, coastal or bohemian themed interiors, rope chandeliers and pendants convey a rustic charm. The natural tone and texture of these lights affords easy transition into a broad category of colour themes and décor styles.
Considering the dining room plays host to gatherings, the aesthetics and atmosphere matter just as much as function. This layer of indirect lighting defines the space further, creating an inviting environment with points of interest.
There are a number of ways to add accent lighting to a dining room and this depends on the existing furniture and décor of the space. Accent lighting is used to draw attention to specific features in your space; an artwork can be highlighted with wall sconces mounted on either side or with a single picture light above it.
It is important to consider how these lights affect the line of sight, as these are viewed by seated guests. Centred beside a picture or mirror, wall sconces can be mounted 1.5 to 1.6m from the ground for ceilings of standard height. However, if they are mounted above a mantle or sideboard a higher placement is more suitable.
If there’s a display cabinet or a sideboard, a proportional table lamp can highlight this feature. Ensure the size of the shade sits within the surface it is placed on. While a table lamp can be two thirds the height of what it’s placed on, smaller fixtures are preferable for taller pieces of furniture.
How to choose lighting for a dining room table
There are several factors to consider before placing or even purchasing lighting for your dining room table. Scale, clearance and spacing are three measurements that will help you with your dining table lighting ideas. The shape of your table plays a role as well. Linear lights or a series of pendants are ideal for rectangular or oval tables with sufficient length. Conversely, chandeliers or a single pendant placed centrally works well for round or square tables. When it comes to choosing a complementing size, avoid fixtures that can overwhelm or look oddly small in your space.
So, does a dining room table have to be centred under the light? The answer is yes. Whether you choose a series of lights or a single fixture, the lighting feature should be centred to achieve balance as well as a uniform spread of light across the surface. Ideally, a height of 70 to 80cm above the table surface is recommended for an unimpeded line of sight across the table. In addition, a clearance of 20 to 30 cm from the edges of the table further ensures that no one bumps into the fixtures.
Know your pendant cord
From time to time, a dining space requires a makeover, and a lighting update brings about a significant transformation. When selecting pendant cords for your dining space, take into account the ease of updating with a simple change of the shade. Understanding your pendant cord involves shade mounting hole requirements and the varieties of shades that it’s compatible with. This can give you the flexibility to pair it with the shade of your choosing. The right pendant cord means a shift from a glass shade to a brass update, without needing an electrician.
Although the emphasis is on general and accent lighting for this interior, it is a versatile space that lends itself to focussed family activities and tasks such as art projects and board games. If you require task-oriented lighting, fittings with retractable suspension or ‘rise and fall’ pendant cords will provide more targeted lighting when needed. e.g. Rise fall pendant cord
How to fix off centre dining room light
While a chandelier may be centred to the room or zone, it may still be off centre for the dining table placement you require. If it is a minor adjustment, a mounting hook can do the trick.
Position the ceiling hook central to the table and draw the suspension cord through it to re-position the fixture. Add enough suspension length to ensure you have sufficient drop length and the ceiling hook is securely mounted to bear the weight.
Dining room lighting checklist
- Have you drawn out the layout of your space?
- Have you created a lighting plan?
- Have you marked out how many overhead fixtures you need?
- Have you measured your dining table?
- Have you measured the right mounting height and spacing above a dining table?
- Have you considered the style of your decor?
- Have you decided on fixture material and size?
- Have you identified any dark areas?
- Have you considered different bulb types?
- Have you chosen the correct bulb base?
- Have you considered which lights require dimmers?
- Have you talked to a qualified electrician about your desired placement?