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Guide to Dining Room Lighting

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but for those who enjoy celebratory meals with friends and family, the dining room is equally important—particularly when the holidays roll around. The proper dining room lighting design can make the space stand out visually and practically, while adding to the mood and functionality. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions when seeking dining room lighting ideas and advice. Remember, the dining room needs to have atmosphere, and the perfect fixture and light output can help achieve this goal. The light should sparkle and flatter; it’s the perfect opportunity to have a sculptural element that creates the perfect mood for any occasion.

138905 07 NO 5 Guide to Dining Room Lighting

Triptic Pendant from Hubbardton Forge

What type of fixtures should I use for the dining room?


Chandeliers are usually chosen for this area, but pendant lights are also popular (especially when used in pairs). However, there are many other options as well. For example, you can add lamps or accent lights to showcase certain accent features in the room; use recessed lights and wall sconces for a more functional style of lighting; or try an LED chandelier if you need a brighter light. In addition, a flush-mount fixture can work wonders in a low, boxy room, while table lamps look nice on consoles or sideboards.


How big should the light be?


For a 4-foot-wide table, you’ll want to look for a light that’s no more than 2 feet wide to create the accurate spread of light over the table. For proportion, linear suspension lights should be anywhere from one- to two-thirds of the length of the table. Linear pendants and chandeliers are the ideal choice for long, rectangular dining tables or extension tables.


Should I match fixtures with my dining table?


Most design experts prefer well-proportioned linear fixtures for rectangular tables, while a globe or round chandelier is ideal for a small, round table. You also can cluster individual pendant lights. A rule of thumb: Use odd numbers for clusters. For example, go with one, or else a cluster of three, five, or seven. 

lv Alva Locus DiningRoom Guide to Dining Room Lighting

Tech Lighting Alva Pendant with Locus Accessory


How much room should I leave between the table and the bottom of the fixture?


Most people hang chandeliers way too high. You should leave about 30 inches between the table and bottom of the fixture. This will ensure that the chandelier doesn’t obstruct the view of those seated and also leaves enough space to fit a vase of flowers or another tall decorative piece.


Is it important to center a light over a dining table?


Most designers prefer to have the light fixture centered above the table rather than the middle of the room. If you have a hutch or sideboard against one wall, your table will likely be placed slightly off center in the room and everything will look off-kilter if the chandelier is exactly dead center.



What about dimmers?


All decorative fixtures should be on dimmers so they can be adjusted as needed. When you’re having dinner with the kids and talking about your day, you’ll want to make the light brighter. But when you’re drinking wine with friends, you’ll surely want to dim the lights.
Have any further questions about dining room lighting? Let us know at, and we’ll be happy to provide design advice.