There's a lot to consider before deciding on a dining room light. The prized spot over your dining room table not only illuminates your dining area, it’s also a showcase for your personal style. And if you have an open floorplan, it may even help set the tone for your entire living space. These personal considerations go beyond style, and from pendant placement to chandelier size, it’s important to consider your space and your existing furniture before purchasing lighting. Here we highlight our top tips for choosing dining room lighting.
Above Your Table
Ambient light is the lighting above your table that illuminates the entire space. It’s important to choose a light that reflects the scale of your room. For a small dining area or nook, you may need to customize your light to fit your space—we offer custom-length pendants and flush mounts in a wide range of sizes. While in a large dining area you may want to choose a single statement chandelier to create a focal point.
Pendants: A single pendant above your dining table makes a statement and can give your space a more modern look. For larger spaces and open-concept rooms, you might have the room to switch it up and create a more unique look by adding two or three smaller pendants. Or go with an oversized pendant to play with size and scale. Our Reedway Pendant adds warm light and a sculptural touch.
Chandeliers: Just like pendants, you need to consider the size of your space and your dining table when choosing a chandelier. We recommend that the diameter of your chandelier should be about a half to two-thirds of the length of your table. For a more modern look, you can play with the scale with an oversized chandelier, like our Altona Chandelier, above a large rectangular table. For round tables, try a classically elegant fixture like our Winfield Chandelier, or opt for the artisan-made elegance of our Willamette Chandelier—which features fluted glass that is cast in Italy and then assembled at our Portland factory.
Flush-Mounts: Similar to chandeliers and pendants, flush mounts should align with the size of your space. For smaller spaces or a casual eat-in nooks in your kitchen, flush mount lights add an elegant, understated look. Choose one that rests flush against your ceiling, like our Conifer Flush Mount, to make rooms with a low ceiling feel more spacious or opt for a semi-flush mount that descends a couple of inches for added dimension.
Select a Shade
When selecting dining room lighting, the shade style, size, and material affect light output. From vintage-inspired glass schoolhouse shades to sleek metal designs, many of our customizable fixtures, like pendants from our Anello Collection, come with many shade options.
Linen: Fabric linen shades create an inviting glow that's perfect for dining spaces. For brighter ambient light, choose a lighter beige or white linen. For subtle, moodier light, opt for a black linen shade.
Clear glass: A clear glass shade will illuminate your entire space with bright ambient light. A glass shade pairs best with a filament bulb—we have 50+ styles to choose from.
Opal glass: Choose an opal glass shade for plenty of bright, 360-degree light with a more diffused glow than clear glass.
Metal: A metal shade focuses the light downward, making it an ideal option for low-key lighting above your table or accent lights by a sideboard.
Ceiling Light Measurements
For ceiling lighting, especially for pendants and chandeliers, you’ll want to keep some key measurements in mind—here is a formula and some visuals to help you prepare.
Diameter: Here’s a formula to figure out what size fixture your table needs: When you add the length and width of your dining room in feet, the sum will equal the diameter (in inches) that your light needs to be. For example, if your dining room is 14 x 10 feet, 14 + 10 = 24, so you should have a 24-inch-wide light fixture.
Length: For ceiling lighting, it's important to consider how far down you want the fixture to hang from the ceiling. The bottom of a pendant should be 30 inches from the surface of your dining table. If you're in the process of redecorating your whole space, make sure to note the height of your new table when planning your lighting.
Around Your Table
Accent light is the lighting around your table. Give your room a warm glow by layering light from wall sconces and table lamps.
Wall Sconces: Create a warm glow and set an inviting tone by adding wall sconces to your dining space. Place them above your mantel or sideboard to highlight artwork or illuminate a buffet setup.
Table Lamps: For a smaller dining space, consider a table lamp up to 32 inches in height on a side table or sideboard for added texture and personality. To avoid any glare, keep in mind the level height when sitting at the dining table; the bottom of the shade should be at eye level.
For a larger lamp option, choose one of our buffet style lamps that are up to 40 inches high. A 75-watt bulb provides ample light, making a pair of buffet lamps a great complement to a single ceiling fixture.
Accent Light Measurements
Sconce Height: For wall sconces, height may be a personal preference so before installing your pieces, get a general idea of how high you want them by placing a piece of tape on the wall and considering proximity to furniture. Overall, it is important to keep in mind the typical eye level in the space. While sconces should be about 60 to 72 inches from the ground for standing eye level in a hallway, in a dining room, we recommend the height should be closer to 60 inches since a majority of the time people will be seated at the dining table.
If you're adding sconces above a mantel or sideboard, a slightly higher placement is ideal. For rooms with ceilings above nine feet, place sconces a bit higher—at 66 to 72 inches—and make sure there isn’t any glare or visible mechanics from the underside of the sconce.
Furniture Size: Consider the size of your credenza, sideboard, or buffet when deciding on lighting. For a more classic look, add a set of sconces above or on either side of the piece of furniture—two table lamps add a more contemporary twist. Sconces should be placed at eye level (see visual above) and centered above the surface inset from the edge of the piece on either end by a few inches. For lamps, the height should be around two-thirds the height of the piece of furniture. However, if your sideboard or storage piece is on the taller side, smaller table lamps may be more successful in preventing a glare.
Shop our selection of pendants, chandeliers, and more for a timeless dining room update.