Lighting the Dining Room

The right illumination makes all the difference!

By FamilyTime


When most of us think of illuminating our dining rooms we think of chandeliers and candles. While these are not the only options, they tend to make the most sense.

A chandelier connected to a dimmer switch is, arguably, the most versatile of options. When you need more light, adjust the dimmer, and if you want to create the illusion that your meal is being lit exclusively by the candles you light, set the dimmer so only a glow emits from the chandelier.

If your dining room does not lend itself to a chandelier, try a pendant lamp. These often are more casual and many can be raised up and down with pulleys.

Wall sconces are lovely in dining rooms. Depending on the size of the room, you may choose to install sconces to enhance the light shed by the chandelier or pendant, or you may decide all you need are sconces, which can be augmented with candles.

To Hang the Fixture
Whether you decide to hang a traditional chandelier or a pendant lamp, make sure it is neither too high nor too low. Too high and you may not get enough light on the table and the atmosphere will be ruined; too low and the light fixture will get in everyone’s way, literally and more metaphorically, too.

Most lighting experts and decorators say the standard is that the bottom of the fixture hangs about 30 inches from the table’s surface. This means that in houses with very high ceilings, the fixture will have a longer chain than in rooms with lower ceilings.

Although some fixtures can hang as high as 40 inches over the table, this depends on the style of the room and the amount of light the lamp puts out. The primary function of the chandelier is to invitingly illuminate the food and the room.

Before You Install the Fixture
Make sure the chandelier or pendant lamp is not so low that a tall diner stares into a light bulb when he sits down. There should be at least two or three inches between the top of your tallest candle or vase (with flowers) and the bottom of the fixture.

Deciding exactly how to hang the lighting fixture is a two-person job: one to hold the fixture above the table and the other to determine the correct height. Have on hand candlesticks and candles, vases with flowers, and anything else you use regularly that might interfere with the chandelier.

Take your time when you decide how to light the dining room or dining area. Nothing is cozier and more convivial than a meal shared with friends and family in a softly lit room —and few things are as distracting as eating a meal in a room with murky or, on the other hand, brash light.

Luckily, it’s easy to create a perfectly lit dining room.