Dining Room Lighting Fixtures and Tips

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The focal point of a standard dining room is the dining table. Like a sofa in the living room, or a bed in the bedroom, the dining table is what defines a specific space in your home as the dining room. The next important element of the dining room is the lighting. The type of lighting you choose for your dining room will determine the room's specific function. Today, most dining rooms serve multiple functions aside from formal dining. The dining room can serve as a workplace, a meeting area, a gathering place for family game night, or a place to entertain guests.

When deciding on a lighting scheme for your dining room, it is important to establish what specific functions you want it to serve. You also want to determine what specific lighting fixtures and styles match the furniture you've chosen for the dining room, and the rest of the house in some cases. The lighting you choose for your dining room is another way to express yourself and your artistic tastes.

Tips for Choosing Your Dining Room Lighting

Before you begin shopping for dining room lighting fixtures, decide on how you want your dining room to feel, and what you want your dining room to be used for. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Separate your room lighting if your dining room and living room share a common area with no walls or partitions separating the two rooms.
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting if you use your dining room for more than just eating.
  • Make sure your lights are fitted with a diffuser if your dining room contains a lot of reflective lighting from glass on the table, furniture or mirrors in the room. Your guests will appreciate it.
  • Pendant lighting should be six feet from the floor, or hung just above eye level of the tallest person seated at the table.
  • The dining table will affect your lighting scheme. Long tables require more lighting, and wider tables should have pendant lamps or chandeliers hung a bit higher off the ground.
  • Consider using multiple fixtures in your dining room lighting scheme. Several small pendant lamps could be used for a long dining table, rather than one large pendant lamp.
Modern Pendant Lamps

Modern Pendant Lamps

Contemporary Chandelier

Contemporary Chandelier


If you don't plan on making your dining table the focal point of your dining room, the next fixture your guests would look at is the chandelier. Hanging over the dining table, a chandelier can enhance the aesthetic s of your other furniture and home décor. Chandeliers can help set the mood for various events, with a dim, soft glow, similar to candlelight, used to set an intimate atmosphere, while brighter lighting from an ornate, Victorian-style chandelier can be used to light up the dining room for a grand banquet.

The type of chandelier you choose can drastically affect the feel of the entire room. Chandeliers can be large and extravagant, made from the finest crystal for the lavish, traditional dining room set. Metal chandeliers with streamlined arms and geometric lines are best suited for dining rooms of contemporary design. A chandelier made of moose or elk antlers, typically found in a hunting or mountain lodge, can be used to express your interest in the outdoors. Unique chandeliers made from recycled glass give the dining room an eco-friendly feel, and can show off your interest in going green.

Pendant Lamps

An alternative to chandeliers for dining room lighting fixtures are pendant lamps, which also hang from the ceiling. Unlike chandeliers, pendant lamps aren't typically used as the focal point for a dining room. Instead, they help improve the aesthetics of the dining room by being one of the many pieces used to display the room's interior design and focus.  A vintage, floral pendant lamp might go well with a classic and chic styled dining room, while a bubbled or fishbowl shaped pendant lamp composed of mostly metal would match a modern themed dining room.

Halogen lamps placed to the side of the dining room can be used to add an extra lighting effect to your dining room. They can be discreetly placed in a corner of the room, turned on only when a specific function calls for it. Halogen lamps of various colors, styles and shapes can be purchased to match your dining room's theme.


Candles are a great way to create an intimate setting for one's dining experience. They can also be used as decorative pieces to adorn the dining room. Candles and the containers housing them can be used as a centerpiece for your dining room table. Using candles in the dining room would be better suited for a specific event, rather than the main source of lighting for your dining room. If you want the same effect of a candle lit room, without the risk of a possible fire hazard, try using dimmers to set the appropriate amount of power you wish to use to light up your dining room.

Things to Remember

Your dining room lighting is another way to bring life to the room, but don't let looks take away from function. Remember, dining room lighting serves a purpose, and that purpose is visibility. A low hanging pendant lamp might bring ample light to the dining table, but if it isn't large enough, some of your guests might be sitting in the shadows. Candles may set an intimate mood, but for larger parties, your guests would most likely appreciate having a better view of their food. Also, remember to get the proper measurements and dimensions for your dining room. You want your lighting adjusted at the appropriate height above your dining room table to keep your guests from bumping their heads on a light fixture.

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Matthew Cenzon Matthew Cenzon has been writing for numerous publications since 2003, covering topics ranging from health and nutrition to the real estate industry. He is one of the contributing writers for IdealHomeGarden.com, and is a college graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with degrees in English and Asian literature. Matthew’s interest in interior design and home improvement stem from his background working in the residential real estate appraisal business for over five years, where he witnessed many of the Do's and Don'ts of home decor.

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