Our mission here at Lulu and Georgia is to bring beauty into your home. Your home is the crucial part of that statement. We want to ensure we help properly incorporate our products into your space and have you love how they look and feel. We often refer to lighting as the "jewelry" of the room. Well-curated lighting creates depth, dimension, and height, draws attention to focal pieces, and sets the mood for cozier and more intimate areas. In this installment of our room-by-room guides, we're taking a closer look at dining room lighting. We know there is a lot to consider when choosing pieces for your formal dining room, open-space dining area, or breakfast nook, so we're breaking it down into two distinctive categories—overhead lighting for the table and accent lighting for other areas of the room. Overhead or ambient fixtures work to light up the majority of your living room. Wall lights add dimension and draw attention to a chosen focal point, like a sideboard. Finally, if you choose to incorporate lamps, they work as additional light sources—either to set the mood or highlight tableware on a buffet. Think about lighting as an element of design that can help tie the room together. Light fixtures can be the missing piece if your room lacks variation in textures or materials. Woven, ceramic, and metal pieces are great ways to bring visual impact to a space. Read on for more of our living room guide, and check out our recent Design Focus on lighting.
Overhead Dining Room Lighting
The size and shape of your dining room and dining table directly impact the type of hanging light or lights that will be best for your space. We will explore a few popular options below. Another important factor to consider is how you want the room to feel when you turn on your ceiling light. The light may be softer or brighter depending on if the bulb is exposed or shaded and what direction the light faces. If you can, have your overhead lights installed on a dimmer switch so that you can adjust the ambiance accordingly.
In a formal dining room setting, a chandelier or large pendant light is always best for over a long rectangular or oval table to help add some drama and weight. If you also happen to have a more open-concept space, these larger fixtures help designate your dining space when paired with your table. Start by measuring the length of your dining table. A good rule of thumb when determining how high to hang a light above a table is that the width of your fixture be at least 6” in from the edge on both sides of the table. For the height, for 8’ ceilings you want to hang your fixture 30” to 36” from the table top to the bottom of the light. For taller ceilings, raise the fixture by 3” for each additional foot.
Additionally, you can opt for two smaller pendants to be hung above the table. The same rules apply when figuring how high to hang your pendants as they would for chandeliers. Just space your pendants out, hang your fixtures 30” to 36” from the tabletop to the bottom of the pieces, and allow for 6” of space from the edges on either side of the table.
Whether you have a separate breakfast nook with a bistro table or have a small-space kitchen and dining area, it's also nice to feature a ceiling light above your round dining table. When hanging a smaller round pendant, you want the diameter of the light fixture to be ½ or ¾ of the diameter of the table. For the height, for 8’ ceilings you want to hang your fixture 30” to 36” from the table top to the bottom of the light. For taller ceilings, raise the fixture by 3” for each additional foot. Lastly, if you want to keep your overhead light as minimalist as possible—or if you have lower ceilings—a flush mount affords you a cleaner, more pared-down look.
Dining Room Accent Lighting
Sconces and lamps are a great way to add some additional glow and ambiance in the dining room. You can provide a beautiful design element that brings your entire room to life with wall sconces. Additionally, the warm glow and direct light of table and floor lamps balance ambiance and functionality. Floor lamps provide eye-level light, which counters the brightness of wall- and ceiling-mounted fixtures. To create a relaxing space, we love using smart bulbs as an easy way to dim lightbulbs without a dimmer. This point is especially true if you ever want to have dinner by candlelight without your overhead fixture on at all.
We understand that overhead lighting is not always a viable option in older homes or certain rental apartments. For dining rooms without hanging lights or flush mounts, look to complement lamps and wall sconces (plug-in might work best) to brighten up your space and set the mood. We recommended first using a few tall floor lamps at each end of the dining space to bring ambient light. You can then add wall sconces—preferably over a sideboard or flanking a display cabinet. For a finishing touch, make sure to use a low-pile rug underneath your dinner table. If you need a few tips on the specifics of how to style your piece, visit our rug guide.