Dining Room Lighting
By Craig DiLouie, LC
Dining rooms vary but are often smaller spaces where most activity occurs around the dining table. Because of this, the primary focus for illumination will be on the table itself and on the faces of people surrounding it. Read these tips to learn how lighting the dining room can benefit your dining experience.
Popular Options For Lighting The Dining Room
Popular options include recessed or track lighting, a pendant (which may be a chandelier), or a series of small pendants supplemented by recessed or track lighting. Whatever the choice, the lighting should produce the right atmosphere, produce sufficient horizontal and vertical light levels, and be flattering.
In the case of recessed and track lighting, the luminaires are typically purely functional and in that event should blend into the architecture. The lighting is typically less diffuse and therefore can create a sense of sparkle.
A pendant will be visually front and center and therefore should match the decor of the space. Numerous choices are available from manufacturers, from decorative and whimsical to modern and geometric. Type, size and aesthetics are all a matter of personal taste. As it’s not touched by hands or food, it can be quite elegant.
Chandeliers typically emit light in all directions but can feature a downlight for accent lighting on a table centerpiece. A single large pendant, or a series of smaller pendants supplemented by recessed or track lighting, can be used to achieve just the right look, feel and function. The pendant’s form should complement the table. For that reason, a chandelier or linear pendant is often used for a rectangular table, and a globe or round chandelier over a round table.
The American Lighting Association recommends choosing a chandelier that is 6 inches narrower than the table’s narrower dimension. It should be hung about 30 inches above the tabletop for an 8-foot ceiling, adding one inch for each additional foot of ceiling height. So for a 10-foot ceiling, the luminaire would be mounted about 32 inches above the tabletop.
Additional lighting can be layered within the space to visually accent artwork on walls, buffets or sideboards, and cabinets. Typically, recessed or track lighting is suitable for this purpose, though linear task lighting may also work well for some sideboards and cabinets. The recessed luminaires may be aimable and can be installed at the ceiling—whether it be tall, low or sloped—or under cabinets. The American Lighting Association recommends placing recessed downlights in the ceiling 9-12 inches from the wall and 24-36 inches apart for illuminating buffets and sideboards.
The luminaires can be fitted with any type of compatible lamp. A warm shade of light, similar to incandescent, is often regarded as most flattering. The luminaire should emit illumination that is visually comfortable, without glare. The lighting should be dimmable and controlled by a dimmer switch to create visual scenes appropriate for cleanup, family dining and guests. Separately controlling the different lighting layers being used—e.g., controlling a chandelier separately from cabinetry lighting and other ambient lighting—allows even greater flexibility to produce just the right atmosphere. Some dimming controls allow programmable scenes and push-button recall for all lighting in a space in a single wall-mounted device.
The dining room is one of the most important spaces of the home, a meeting place for family and friends. Good lighting can help achieve the right look, feel and function.
What you need to know about lighting the dining room:
- Popular lighting options include recessed, track and pendant lighting
- Pendants mounted over dining tables should be visually appealing
- Lighting should be properly scaled to the table and space
- Additional lighting can be layered to accent artwork, sideboards and cabinets
- The lighting should be dimmable to create just the desired look and feel