35 Tips for Lighting a Dining Room

Choosing dining room light fixtures can be a tricky decision to make. It’s an important multi purpose room that needs to transform from a bright functional space to an atmospheric magical room for intimate dining.

There are so many different types of dining room lighting fixtures, all with their own set of pros and cons and optimum places to install them. So follow our dining room lighting ideas for the important decisions to make and help you decide what is best for your space.

© Chris Orange Photography – Restaurant Dining

Lighting For Dining Room

Successful dining room lighting is a mixture of aesthetic decisions and functionality. These combinations are decided upon through the technique of layering with light.

Task Lighting

Task lighting provides light where it’s needed most, task lighting for dining rooms is a must. Using a task light to illuminate your table will give you the best conditions for reading recipes, paying bills and writing cards!

Task lighting can be achieved by using pendant lights over the dining room table or chandeliers hung from above.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting creates mood and atmosphere – the primary ingredients to great dining room lighting. It’s where the light is reduced to lower levels over the table and in pockets of light around the room.

Accent lights can be achieved by using up-lighting in the ceiling or wall sconces on side walls of your dining space, these types of lights add style and elegance to any area!

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is perfect for creating a relaxing dining room atmosphere.

Ambient lights are typically achieved by using recessed lighting in the ceiling, these types of lights can create a warm and inviting space for guests to enjoy!

So What is Best?

The answer really depends on your specific needs or desires for your dining room. Task lighting provides focused light right where it’s needed most, accent lighting is a great way to add style and ambience gives your dining room a relaxing feel. Choosing the right type of dining room lights for you space can make all the difference!

Lounge Diner
Eating Area Defined with Recessed Ceiling Lighting & Linear Pendant

Creative Dining Room Lighting Ideas

As dining room lights can be task, ambient or decorative, choosing lighting for dining rooms can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips on choosing the best lighting for your space.

1. Where Will You Eat?

Choosing dining room lighting that fits the function is key. Task lights over a table, can also be accent and ambient lighting all from the same light fixture when using pendants. They can all be used to create different moods for your space depending on what you need it for.

2. Dining Room Pendant Lights

The table is the centre piece with pendant lighting hung low over it from the ceiling extending down to hang approximately 30 to 36 inches over a table or bar area. Pendants are great for adding drama to your dining space.

3. Flush Mount

For a modern ceiling lighting, flush mounts sit flush with your ceiling and cast down light onto a table or counter area from a discrete light source.

4. Recessed Lighting

Recessed lights are placed inside of small housings that are installed into the ceiling. They provide a strong task light from a small fixture.

5. Find a Style

Dining room lights can be traditional, transitional, modern, industrial, rustic and more! Each style of dining lighting has its own unique feel to it due to many factors such as color, shape and size.

6. Create the Mood

Great evenings of food and wine with friends is all about the mood, setting your dining room lighting to match this is key. Be sure to choose lighting circuits and fixtures that can create low levels of light for the perfect evening.

7. Dimmable Light For Scene Settings

Dining room lights can be switched on with a wall switch or dimmable to adjust the mood of your space! On/off switches are great for rooms that only get occasional use while dimmers allow you to truly create an ambiance in your dining area!

8. Focus the Light

Task lights are great for a focused light onto a surface such as a dining table or a picture on the wall. A focused light will of course provide better lighting on a specific area but it’s more than functional. Within the dining room the lighting needs to be brightest at a chosen point to define the highs and lows of all the lighting, and this is it.

9. Go Decorative

Accent and mood decorate your dining space with beautiful colors that cast a warm glow on surrounding walls. Pick fixtures that relate to the finish and fabrics to the room and dining area.

10. Use the Walls

You don’t need or want overhead lights in some dining rooms, not all rooms have power in the ceiling for pendants. So use wall sconces for accent light that can contribute to the overall ambience of the room.

They need not be large statement pieces as LED lights will provide a lot of illumination without taking up much space. Put multiple lights of the same style around the room to make it bright and well lit.

11. Room for a Chandelier?

A dining chandelier can cast the most beautiful and elegant glow over any space but equally they are a feature statement that defines any dining room. Chandeliers need not be traditional, they can be modern, contemporary, transitional and more, so explore the opportunity to add something very special to your home.

12. Small Chandeliers for Dining Room Spaces

Small chandeliers can be a great choice for dining rooms, they are stunning in any space and cast the perfect amount of light on your dinner table. A small chandelier allows you to create an amazing atmosphere with little visual clutter!

13. Use 3 Pendants

For the longer table or if in a dining area in an open plan family room with kitchen island, always use an odd number of drop pendants in a row. The repetition of the same style will be the focal point to the room demarking visually where the important eating area belongs.

© Chris Orange Photography – Large Pendants in Restaurant Dining

14. Larger Rather Than Small

All great decorative lighting tends to be on the larger scale for the size of the room. It needs to be a confident statement but not so big that it spoils the balance.

15. Choose the Right Size

Pendants hung low over tables need to feel comfortable to be sat near, so make sure that there is a 12 inch gap between the edge of the table and the light itself.

16. Choose the Right Shape

Usually dining room ceiling lights would be the same shape as the table, not the room it is in. You can’t go wrong with a straight fixture above a rectangular or extension table.

17. Choose the Right Length

The proportions of dining room statement lighting must be right too. If you have a rectangular dining table, use pendants or linear suspension fixtures that are about 1/3 to 2/3 of the length of your table.

18. Try Not to Over Light

Be careful not to over use downlighters as too much light will spoil the atmosphere and mood, even if you want the dining area bright. Only put light where it is needed rather than generally spread it from the ceiling.

19. Install Lights at Different Heights

When you add layers of light, think about them going in at differing heights from the ceiling to the floor. Think also about them going from one side of the room to another. The results will be an interesting combination of lighting intensities and positions around the space.

20. Light Inside Furniture

Cupboards and shelving within the room are ideal places to install hidden lighting that will highlight the beauty of your dining room furniture whilst adding very important accent light that creates the backdrop to the sides of the room whilst the table takes centre stage.

21. Uplight from Behind Furniture

Diffused lighting from reflected light is perfect ambient gentle light ideal for modern dining room lighting. Hide free standing floor uplighters behind a chair or plant to cast light upwards and reflect it back into the room.

22. Consider Picture Lights

Picture and Art Lighting are prefect accent lights. They are directional lighting that can be used to accent art or picture hung on walls. They create a beautiful glow around the frame of your favourite painting and will cast light onto other objects in the room!

23. Hide LED StripLights

LED strip lighting is a great for creating mood and scene setting without having to see the fixture itself. They can be installed under kitchen cabinetry, bars or even dining tables!

24. Be Creative

Don’t forget about your ceilings with pendant lights that hang from up high or flush mounts hidden in the ceiling they all create great ambient lighting!

25. Smart Lighting

If you want to go all out, be sure to add smart lighting such as voice activated lights! You can pre-set levels of specific light sources to instantly transform your dining room lamps to create the perfect setting with a simple voice command, impressing your guests every time!

26. Use a Dining Room Floor Lamp

A dining room floor lamp is the perfect task light for reading or working at your table. Floor lamps are great especially in spaces where they can be moved around easily to create different moods and lighting effects!

27. Hanging Light Fixtures for Dining Room Spaces

A hanging light fixture is a great addition to any dining room space. They are contemporary pieces that will add style and sophistication into your design scheme while adding ambient lighting.

28. Light Evenly

When you use pendants as your main lights, make sure to take into account the length of the table. Hang the lights so that they are spaced evenly based on how long your table is and how many people you will be seating.

29. Modern Chandeliers For Dining Room Spaces

Modern chandeliers are a great addition to modern dining room lighting. They create a contemporary feel and will make your space stand out amongst the rest! Rectangular Lanterns are a great tip as they have the size to impress but are predominantly open so not bulky and inappropriate.

30. Use Linear Systems

Suspension bars will help you hang your pendants without having to wire each one of them separately. Monorail systems just need one power outet which is commonly found over tables, allowing you to drop multiple drop pendants without the additional electrical install costs. Adjustable length cords make sure all the pendants are the same height.

31. Group Smaller Pendants

A grouping of pendant lamps of similar in color or shape, can be installed at different heights but close enough to become a beautiful ensemble. This is a clever technique to achieve the volume and scale of a more expensive larger chandelier or feature light, but from a series of smaller cheaper pendants.

32. Create a Soft Ambience

A dining room requires soft light that is both warm and inviting. You can achieve this with candle chandeliers or dining room fixtures that up light tocast a glow upwards to the ceiling and simultaneously send a gentle flattering light downwards onto your table.

33. Use Porcelain

Porcelain lighting when lit up will emit a soft warm glow and provide plenty of ambient light for your dining room. It is the perfect solution to create an intimate dinner table mood with candlelight pieces such as candelabras, sconces or even chandeliers.

34.Proportion to the Room

In a large room, find a chandelier that is big and makes a statement, the room needs it. The volume of air and space in a large space with dining demands something over the table that draws all the elements of the room together in a centre piece that binds style and finish together.

35. Light on the Table

A lamp on dining room table that creates the low lumen output similar to a candle, will always be used as a dining room fixture. It creates the perfect intimate ambience, and is essential for those who like to leave on soft lighting when they retire from dinner or worked late into the night.

Dining room lights don’t have to be difficult but finding the right balance is key! We hope you find at least a few of these dining lighting tips useful!

Andrew Orange , the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.