112 Dining Room Lighting Ideas
Lighting allows you to create a special atmosphere in your dining room. Functional task lighting is important over the table, whether it’s cast by a traditional chandelier or modern recessed lights. Ambient lighting is soft, diffuse light that fills the entire room. Accent light fixtures are meant to highlight a certain element, such as a special piece of art or furniture.
Ideally, your dining room lighting plan will include task, ambient, and accent lighting options. Find remarkable examples of each as you look through this collection of our favorite dining room lighting ideas.
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1. Elevating Your Space
Ceiling light fixtures are those that are set into or directly on the ceiling. From recessed lights to flush mount fixtures, each of these options provides light without drawing a lot of attention. Recessed can lights are some of the most basic types of dining room lighting and work well when concentrated light is needed in a certain spot in the room.
Many ceiling light options are quite basic, such as the standard plain glass dome favored by many home builders. However, other flush-mount light fixtures are quite elaborate, featuring decorative metal or crystal accents. A flush-mount light fixture is ideal for a small dining room or a room with low ceilings.
Semi-flush mount ceiling light fixtures are suspended from the ceiling, but only by a few inches. This allows a unique combination of direct downward light and upward, ambient lighting. Semi-flush mount fixtures add style without taking over the room as a larger light fixture might.
2. Elegant Illumination
A chandelier is a decorative hanging light fixture with branches to hold several light bulbs or lamps. Chandelier options have evolved from the classic design with upturned arms accented with dozens of dangling crystals. Contemporary dining room chandeliers come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and styles–many devoid of crystals entirely.
Modern, industrial, farmhouse, and rustic design elements now appear in chandelier design. Instead of the traditional rounded canopies, newer chandelier lighting fixtures are square, rectangular, star-shaped, or triangular. These multi-lamp fixtures may have simple square glass boxes around each bulb, attached to bronze or black metal arms.
Beaded garland trim often appears on dining room chandeliers, composed of metal or glass beads or textile fringe. A modern chandelier may simply have light bulbs set against reflective metal panels, arranged in a circular or square design. If you enjoy bohemian or eclectic decor, you can make a simple chandelier by winding pendant lights or fairy lights on a wooden branch and hanging it by rope over your dining table.
3. Suspended Brilliance
Hanging lights, or pendant lights, are mounted to the ceiling by a cable, metal rod, stem, chain, or wire. These hanging lamps are ideal for providing direct light onto a dining table, bar top, or kitchen island. Some people prefer the look of a single large pendant light while others like a grouping of mini pendant lights. If you prefer a softer lighting effect, choose pendant lights that have a shade or diffuser.
Pendant light fixtures are sometimes called drop lights or suspended light fixtures. They come in several different styles, including:
- Bell pendant: Has a bell-shaped diffuser, usually made of glass.
- Bowl pendant: Has a bowl-shaped diffuser made of glass.
- Drum pendant: Features a hardback or fabric shade to diffuse light.
- Bare bulb pendant: The simplest pendant fixture usually has an antique-inspired bulb, such as an Edison bulb, affixed to a single suspended socket.
- Linear pendant: Features multiple light bulbs lined up on one single canopy.
- Mini pendant: Small bell or bowl pendants, usually hung in multiples.
For a creative DIY project, convert various types of glassware into pendant light fixtures. Wine bottles, liquor bottles, and other recycled bottles are good candidates for this type of upcycling. Watch the video below to learn how.
4. Enhancing Ambience
Go into any home improvement center or light fixture store, and you might feel overwhelmed by the variety of dining room lighting options. There are lighting ideas to suit any style of home decor, from traditional to modern and everything in between. Dining room lighting trends include oversized single pendant fixtures, bare Edison bulb groupings, and linear pendant fixtures.
If you have a small dining room, keep your light fixture sized to scale. Choose a pendant or chandelier with an open, airy design–perhaps a basket-inspired open weave lamp shade or a simple metal chandelier. Elaborate dining room lighting is best over a big dining table that can help carry the visual weight.
5. Sophisticated Dining Experiences
If you have the budget for luxurious dining room lighting, crystal chandeliers are a tried-and-proven option. Although the classic light fixture dripping with crystal beads fits well into certain homes, your high-end abode might call for an updated approach. Elegant dining room fixtures are often the one thing that turns a dull dining room into a showplace.
Rectangular glass panels, long icicle-inspired accents, and colored crystals are accents found on designer dining room lighting fixtures. If your dining room is particularly large, hanging two matching chandeliers over the dining table provides an impressive impact. Once you choose your main lighting ideas, look for lamps, sconces, and other ambient light sources that include similar design elements.
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6. Contemporary Flair
Modern dining room lighting is required to maintain a contemporary aesthetic in a new home. Symmetry, simplicity, and balance are all embraced in modern design. Bold lines, primary colors, warm wood, and sleek metal finishes appear often in modern homes. Light fixtures with these elements mesh well with modern decor.
Look back to the space era of the 1950s and 1960s to appreciate one of the most popular modern dining room fixtures: the Sputnik chandelier. Named after the first satellite that ever orbited the earth, these chandeliers feature several arms projecting from a central orb.
7. Embracing Nature
Like modern decor, rustic decor communicates a love of simplicity. However, it speaks in a more natural, casual voice. White or beige walls provide a clean background to show off a variety of warm wood finishes, stone or brick facades, and simple metal elements. Rustic dining room lighting options will reflect these same organic materials.
Because rustic decor is so casual, it’s fine if your room’s lighting elements come from different places. There is no need to pursue symmetry or make everything match. A vintage-inspired wrought iron chandelier can hold its own next to a ceramic lamp with a canvas shade. If your decor projects a rustic lodge vibe, choose a chandelier made from natural wood branches.
For authentic rustic, farmhouse, or shabby chic decor, consider repurposing thrift store finds or antique hand-me-downs. Watch the following video to learn how to turn an old barn beam into a light fixture to hang over your rustic-styled dining chairs and table.
8. Focal Point Illumination
Don’t overlook your tabletop when exploring room lighting options for the dining room. Candles are the obvious choice to cast ambient lighting from the middle of the table. Whether standing alone in an ornate candelabra or scattered through a long tablescape, candles provide a warm glow unmatched by other light sources.
If you have safety concerns about real flames, there are countless styles of battery-powered “candles” on the market today. Many have flames that flicker like real candles and it can be difficult to tell them apart from the real thing. Battery-powered lamps and light strings are other light-producing items to include in your dining room table centerpiece.
9. Timeless Charm
Is anything more traditional than a crystal chandelier? These ubiquitous light fixtures work so well above classic dining chairs and tables that they might seem like the only choice in a home filled with traditional décor. However, stained glass Tiffany lamps are another beautiful traditional room lighting option that also provides a splash of color.
Overhead light fixtures that mimic antique candle chandeliers also look great with traditional décor. If you want to embellish a traditional, but plain light fixture, add strands of clear glass beads or pearls. Metal chain tassels or cord tassels also work well as traditional light fixture embellishments.
10. Artful Illumination
Wall sconces are an often-overlooked dining room lighting choice. Perfect for lighting up dark areas of the room, sconces add a warm and inviting touch. Wall lighting is an important element to include when planning your dining room lighting scheme.
If you only need sconces to provide lighting, choose simple designs that will blend in with the rest of your decor. But keep in mind that beautiful wall light fixtures can add a lot of ambience, even in the daytime. Note that you may need to hire an electrician to install wall-mounted lights if you don’t want the electric cords to be visible.
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Dining Room Lighting FAQ
Make dining room light choices that create the atmosphere you desire to experience around your table. Usually, this means starting with a central dining room light fixture, such as a chandelier or pendant light. After choosing this main lighting fixture, use lamps or sconces to illuminate the rest of the room.
A chandelier is not required in a dining room. In fact, dining room lighting ideas are practically unlimited. The same kinds of lighting options that work in other rooms can be used in the dining room. A strategically placed wall sconce display or whimsical strings of fairy lights make a warm dining atmosphere. A floor lamp or table lamp—or both—can be used instead of overhead lighting.
Dining room light fixture options include those that are aimed up and others that point down. Upwards-facing light shades, such as those on a chandelier or sconce, provide softer, diffused lighting. A pendant lamp or recessed lighting fixture provides light that casts down onto the table and other surfaces. Many dining rooms have both types of lighting for balanced light distribution.
How far down your dining room lighting hangs depends on the fixture’s size, your table’s size, your ceiling height, and the size of your room. In general, the bottom of your chandelier should rest 30 to 36 inches above your dining table surface, or about six feet off the floor. More informal dining room lighting trends position the chandelier higher, around seven feet from the floor.
Consider the size of your dining space and measure your dining room table before choosing your room lighting. A chandelier should be between 2/3 and 3/4 the width or diameter of your table. If you prefer pendant lights or recessed lights, a good rule of thumb is to space them two feet apart over the table. Note that lights with complex or busy details will appear larger inside your home.