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What Is The Best Lighting For A Dining Room?

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When lighting your dining room, choosing the best lighting for your space from a wide range of options sometimes proves to be overwhelming. Which light sets the right tone, makes a statement, and offers the perfect type of lighting? We’ve taken a look at various fixture options to help alleviate your decision fatigue when it comes to lighting your dining space. 

Generally, the most appropriate light source for the dining room is a chandelier of either a classic crystal or modern material. An intimate ambiance, which is most often associated with the dining room, uses soft white (2,700-3,000 kelvin) or warm white (3,000-4,000 kelvin) lightbulbs.

Can you light your dining room without a chandelier? Must your lighting source always be centered over your dining room table? How many light sources do you need for your particular space? Keep reading for a comprehensive guide on the most optimal lighting for your dining room.

A luxurious modern architecture masterpiece with its dining room properly lit by the huge windows and a chandelier, What Is The Best Lighting For A Dining Room?

Why Chandeliers Remain The Top Choice In The Dining Room

Chandeliers make a statement in your dining room decor while also emitting the perfect amount of light over your table. Whether you choose a premium crystal chandelier or a rustic farmhouse version, expect a lighting source that will amaze your guests and tie your room’s decor together. Crystal glass chandeliers, like the one shown below, bring elegance to your space.

Click here to see this crystal chandelier on Amazon.

Most standard rectangular tables and circular tables of eight or fewer seats only require one chandelier. 

For an extra long dining room table with 10 or more chairs, hang two chandeliers evenly spaced apart to provide the right amount of light for functionality. Otherwise, opt for a large horizontal chandelier that spreads out evenly over the rectangular table, like the horizontal farmhouse chandelier pictured below.

Click here to view the farmhouse chandelier on Amazon.

According to Schoolhouse Living, the diameter of your round chandelier should be 12-inches less than the width of your table. It would be best if you hung it 30- to 36-inches above your tabletop to provide enough space to see the person sitting across from you. Be careful not to oversize or undersize your chandelier as it could make your space look awkward with too much or too little light.

How Do You Light A Dining Room Without A Chandelier?

If a chandelier ranges outside your budget or if you prefer a modern look, choose a pendant light as the next best alternative. Pendant lights tend to be much more affordable than chandeliers, so it's possible to buy multiple ones and group them to create a beautiful lighting statement. The vintage pendant lights shown below come in copper, antique brass, or black finish, so you could mix and match the finishes.

Click here to view these vintage pendant lights on Amazon.

Choose a boho-chic rattan pendant light for a modern flair in your dining room. This option looks especially great in a dining room with plants, wood tones, and natural elements. Like a chandelier, the rattan pendant light shown below comes with a long adjustable chain for finding the perfect height above your table.

Click here to view the rattan pendant light on Amazon.

Some Other Lighting Options For Your Dining Room

If you need to light a small space that’s more like a breakfast nook or small addition to your kitchen, get creative with your lighting options. A large, arching floor lamp works for small spaces and can be fitted with a brighter bulb for better lighting.

When low ceilings prevent a chandelier or pendant light, choose decorative flush or semi-flush lighting. Instead of a boring light cover or bulb, choose something with personality, like this flush industrial glass ceiling light.

To create a more formal atmosphere in a space with low ceilings, use semi-flush lighting that still looks like a chandelier or pendant light but without the chain.

How Much Lighting Should Be In A Dining Room?

For the best distribution of light in your dining room, use at least two different types of light sources. Along with your main sources of light, such as the chandelier, pendant lights, floor lamp, or flush/semi-flush fixture, consider adding supplemental lighting, like wall sconces, table lamps, or recessed lighting.

Use wall sconces to attract attention to a large piece of art on the wall if it is not accompanied by a console table.

Choose table lamps if you want to attract attention to a console table or buffet.

Lastly, supplement any dark areas in the room with strategically placed recessed lighting either in the ceiling or in the walls themselves.

Does The Light Have To Be Centered Over The Dining Room Table?

Make sure to place your lighting centered over the table instead of centered in the dining room ceiling. This ensures the lighting hangs evenly over the table where the light is most needed, even if you place your table off to the side or slightly off-center within the room. If you have a large dining room, be sure to check out our post "How To Fill Empty Space In Dining Room."

If you care about aesthetics more than functionality or if you have supplemental lighting for the rest of the table, position your chandelier off-center for an eye-catching artistic statement.

However, for functionality’s sake and a cohesive, traditional dining room appearance, center your lighting source over your table. It’s best to center your lighting source and add personality to the room with the art on the walls, the chairs around your table, and the table centerpieces instead. For tips on styling your chairs in your dining room, check out our post, "Do Dining Chairs Have to Match?"

How Many Lumens Do You Need For A Dining Room?

The Home Depot recommends about 3,000 to 4,000 lumens for the average dining room. They recommend considering different factors like the height of your ceilings, the color of your walls, and your dining room table's size to increase or decrease this amount. If you have vaulted ceilings, dark paint, and a large table, you may need to increase your lumens.

The amount of lumens in your dining room also depends on its purpose. If you tend to entertain guests or eat at the table every night with your family, you need an average amount of lumens and soft light. On the other hand, if your kids use the table for homework and the table is otherwise only used for holidays, you may consider using more lumens for your space with a brighter light for studying.

When it comes to warm or cool lights, think about the kelvin temperature. For warmer lights and more intimate settings, use less kelvin. For brighter, bluer lights used for seeing things better, use a higher amount of kelvin.

Do You Need A Dimmer In The Dining Room?

Since dining rooms tend to be all-purpose rooms for most people’s homes, consider installing a dimmer for your main source of lighting. This may be especially helpful if you use your dining room table as a workspace, a game night table, a study space, and an eating and entertaining space. Control your dimmer with a special lightswitch and ensure your bulbs possess the feature of dimming so that they last longer.

The Conclusion On Dining Room Lighting

No matter if you need lighting for a modern or traditional dining room, a chandelier offers the best lighting for this space. Remember, chandeliers and alternate lighting sources like pendant lights, flush/semi-flush fixtures, and arching floor lamps pair well with supplemental lighting. Ultimately the light you choose should make a statement, tie together the room’s decor, and offer functionality for your dining room needs.