How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room

How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room Ultimate Guide

Knowing how to choose lighting for your dining room can make the difference between a great space, and a perfect space.

Whilst modern dining rooms are often used for a variety of purposes depending on the time of day, there are times when you’ll want the atmosphere of the room to be just right. Where you’ll want to create a space that perfectly accompanies dinner parties or family meals.

But picking the right lighting can be difficult. There are so many different factors to keep track of, especially considering everyone’s room and tastes will be different.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the number of options, or if you’re just not sure where to begin, you’ve come to the right place!

This site uses ads and affiliate content as an Amazon associate earning on qualifying purchases. Disclosure.


In this article we’re going to be breaking down everything there is to know about how to choose lighting for your dining room.

We’ll take a look at a few different ideas and give you some small tips so you can make a space that really sticks out to your guests or family.

We’ve also included a short FAQ section to help answer any questions you may have.

How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room

How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room

When I bought this home, it came filled with light fixtures in a shiny silver metal finish, which to me just looks cold, cheap and public-bathroomy.

So I am slowly replacing all the light fixtures in the home, one by one.

The first one to go, was the glitzy crystal chandelier in the dining room. It was just too glam for my organic-modern style, it had to go.

How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room crystal chandelier
The old chandelier

I tried to sell it for cheap on FB Marketplace, but no one was interested. So it now hangs in my mom’s garden.

Then came the job of replacing it with something more modern.

Finding the right dining room chandelier was not easy! It took me months to find the perfect one.

How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room cb2 meldon chandelier
The new chandelier. Photo: CB2

But I eventually landed on this one from CB2.

I love how it’s modern, yet a little quirky.

Take a look at these similar picks:

Get this light here

Get this light here

By the way, you can see all the items in my modern organic dining room here!

One of the first things you’ll need to consider is the overall setting of your dining room.

  • What atmosphere are you looking to create?
  • Who are the kind of guests you’re going to be having over?

There are big differences between a dining room for a family breakfast, and a dining room for an intimate, late-night dinner party.

Deciding between these can be difficult, and you may find that you’ll want both settings depending on the time of day.

This can be achieved with extra lighting applications that you can bring out for special occasions, or through all-purpose lights with different colors that you can tweak depending on the setting.

Most Important Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing Lighting For Your Dining Room

In this section I’m going to take you through some of the most important aspects of lighting you’ll need to keep in mind before committing to any purchases or decisions.

Table Lighting

Get this light here

Tables lamps add class and make a dining room look especially refined.

You can also use lamps on tables or the credenza beside your main dining table, too.

You’ll want to pick some that don’t have too harsh lighting, and lamps that fit aesthetically with the general look of your room.

One of the main things you’re going to need to do is make sure the dinner table has adequate lighting.

This is the most important focal point of the room, as guests or family members will need to be able to see what they’re eating.

You can do this in a few ways. Some choose to have overhanging lights fixed above the table, whilst others prefer candles or something with a little more atmosphere.

Either way, making sure you have a full view of your table is a vital part of lighting a dining room.

Tip: Install a dimmer switch in your dining room, and choose light fixtures that work with dimmable bulbs. This way you can easily set the mood for different types of dinner parties.

Wall Lights (Sconces)

best lighting for dining rooms

Get this sconce here

Wall lights, also known as sconces, can be a great, unobtrusive way to get some atmospheric lighting into your dining room.

I’m really into alabaster sconces these days, and bought two alabaster sconces with bronze bases for my dining room. Alabaster just looks refined in my opinion.

You can also use lamps on tables or the credenza beside your main dining table, too.

You’ll want to pick some that don’t have too harsh lighting, and lamps that fit aesthetically with the general look of your room.

For my dining room, I replaced the 2000’s chrome scones with beautiful alabaster and brass sconces. The new ones look like a piece of art!

alabaster wall sconce best dining room lighting_

Get this alabaster wall sconce here

Natural Lighting

You might want to consider what natural lighting you have available. Does your dining room have a large window? If so, this can be used for completely natural, beautiful light during the daytime.

If you’re looking for a darker setting, then perhaps you’ll need a set of good drapes to block it out.

All About Ambiance

Ambiance is a word used to describe the general feeling of a room. This is a very important accompaniment to any dinner party, and something that Michelin Star chefs use to great effect.

For a successful dinner party, you’ll want something that will make your guests feel at ease and calm in the area.

To achieve this, you’ll want to consider the color of the lighting in your room, and how well-lit you’d like everything to be.

Generally, white or yellow lighting is the best way to do this.

Of course, you can get some unique looks with colored lighting, it’s usually a lot more difficult for guests to see what they’re eating as well as each other.

We would suggest warm, yellow lights because this color is known to make guests feel at ease.

You can achieve this with lamps covered by lampshades, or with multiple candles dotted around the room and placed on the table.

Is there any evidence that the wrong dining room lighting fixture or lighting ambiance can ruin your dinner?


To my fellow foodies out there hopefully, you can feel my pain. I have been blessed and cursed with being married to an electrical lighting snob.

Don’t get me wrong, he is my world, but I have been banned from eating at a few restaurants, why?  And I quote, “A food establishment should understand proper lighting; we as a family will not be dining at their tables until they use lighting correctly.”

An Architect’s Perspective on Lighting

To my surprise during a visit at a designer’s private showing; an architect ranted about her number one customer complaint, lighting.

Residential and commercial projects alike were drawn to lighting that would not flatter her designs.

In fact, she is a lighting specialist and had photos as proof that a minor change of choosing the right fixtures could have evaluated the completed projects to magazine-worthy images.

Her portfolio was impressive, and she made a convincing argument that her clients ruined her free publicity…the nerve!

Of course, the dining room lighting was at the top of her list.

Dining rooms are a place for family gatherings, fantastic food, card games, and the list goes on and on. So let’s learn a few things from these professionals.

Should Dining Room Lights Point Up or Down?

Dining room lights typically should point up.

This casts light evenly on the table and food, making it easier to see and enjoy your meal. It can also help to create a more intimate atmosphere for dining with family and friends.

If you have a very high ceiling, however, you may want to select fixtures that point down so that the light is not spotlighting areas of the room that are not in use.

In general, though, most people prefer dining room lights that cast an inviting and cheerful glow by pointing up.

Things To Consider When Choosing Dining Room Lighting

Dining room lighting is probably the most critical lighting inside a home, and it’s easy to understand why. People should view their dining room lighting fixture above their table as the focal point of the room.

In other words, the design of your fixture could totally throw off your décor. If it sounds a little intimating, its because it is.  Lastly, most people get it wrong!

Why? They purchase their lighting fixture without first receiving guidance to help them choose the right size, shape, and style. Next, they hang their dining room lighting fixture at the wrong height.

Even if the right fixture were purchased, it would not illuminate the room to its fullest potential.

First, you need to understand your current lighting situation and what is still lacking.

Lighting Fixtures Provide a Task

To properly light your dining room, you need to plan according to the needs of the room.

For example, if your room lacks natural light, you may need to consider adding additional lighting to brighten the entire space.

Maybe add task lighting, above artwork, or place a pair of table lamps on your buffet. These would be better choices than merely purchasing the wrong fixture to light the entire room.

Creating Your Ambiance

We need to prioritize what is your main objective. Of course, your goal should be to find a fixture that fits into your décor.

However, you need to consider the amount of lighting you are seeking from the dining room fixture itself.

In other words, there is a big difference between an installation that can provide a well-lit space to one which is intimate and romantic.

Understanding your needs will narrow down your dining room fixture search. Keep in mind that the light bulbs required for each fixture can make a difference as well.

The wattage and color can assist in creating the right mood.

Check price on Amazon

Consider The Table Size and Shape

So, let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Do not purchase a small fixture if you have a large table.

A small fixture will look entirely lacking (aka dumb), while an oversized design will overpower your table and rudely block your view. Keep in mind it is helpful to view your space from different angles.

The rule of thumb for the correct diameter is approximately one-half to two-thirds the width of the table.

Check price on Amazon

Round and Square Tables

Round and square tables usually work best with a pendant or single chandelier.

However, if you choose to be more daring, a few precautions should be taken into consideration to make your design choice fit in.

Oval or Rectangular Tables

Your goal should be to create balance and an excellent choice to accomplish that would be to go with a linear pendant or paired fixtures.

These would ensure to provide ample lighting for the entire table.

Check price on Amazon

Dining Room Lighting Styles

Before you go splurging on a fancy crystal chandelier it’s important to STOP and consider your overall décor style.

Even if your home is made up of hand-me-downs or you’re just beginning to furnish it you should begin by keeping the end goal in mind.

Home Décor can be likened to a giant complex puzzle. Instead of trying to force pieces where they don’t belong, try to picture the “puzzle or in this case, the space” as a completed project.

A dining room chandelier is the focal point and helps create the picture or “look” of your finished space.

Besides these days, there are so many different lighting styles to choose from, finding a chandelier that complements your room will not be an impossible task.

I’ve rounded up some trending styles below to provide you with some guidance As you can see from my choices, you can change the look of your room dramatically.

Personally, I recommend Hayneedle due to its extensive lighting inventory and free return policy. 

‘They cater to those that would like to stay within budget as well as those who seek a luxury product.







How Low Should A Light Fixture Hang Over A Dining Table?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the height of your dining table and the size of your light fixture.

As a general rule of thumb, your light fixture should hang about 30-36 inches above your dining table. However, if you have a particularly tall or large light fixture, you may need to adjust this distance accordingly.

If you’re unsure about how low to hang your light fixture, err on the side of caution and go for a slightly higher distance. You can always lower it later if needed.

The Importance Of Good Dining Room Lighting?

Good dining room lighting can make or break a meal. It’s important to have a bright light directly over the table so you can see your food clearly, and it’s also nice to have some ambient light in the room to set the mood.

Too much or too little light can be a problem.

Overhead lights that are too bright can create glare and make it difficult to see your food. Candles or another soft lighting can be nice, but they shouldn’t be so bright that you can’t see what you’re eating.

It’s also important to consider the color of your lightbulbs. Warm colors like yellow or orange are ideal for creating a cozy atmosphere.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dining Room Lighting

How Many Light Sources Should I Include In My Dining Room?

This is a difficult question to answer because it all depends on the size of your room. For an average dining room, I would typically suggest three light sources for your room.

These will usually include ambient lighting, such as candles or small lamps, table lighting, and general lighting.

If you have three lighting sources available but it appears too much, then you can always simply remove one.

If you have a larger room you might want to double the amount.

What Are The Most Efficient Bulbs I Can Buy?

LED lightbulbs are usually the most efficient option. They have a very low wattage rate when you compare them to incandescent bulbs, but still, have a great output of lighting.

In fact, LED lights can last up to 10 years as long as nothing goes wrong, which means you won’t have to keep changing them all the time.

Final Thoughts

Your dining room plays a role in your home and needs to function and work for entertaining socially. This is where you will host guests, serve delicious meals and hopefully enjoy lots of laughter.

Don’t let the wrong dining room fixture cast down harsh light on your faces or make your meals not look as appealing.

By applying a few of these lighting industry principles, you can really make an impact on your overall décor.

Let’s not ruin your chance to make the right statement with the focal point in your room.

If you’re still in need of some décor advice, you may find it helpful to read our suggestions for Ways To Decorate A Diningroom Wall.

So there you have it, whilst lighting can feel like a difficult task to get just right, with a few ground rules you’ll be able to get something perfect.

Consider natural light, the light sources you have available, and where they are in the room, and finally make sure to consider the color of these lights and how they affect the general ambiance of the room.

We hope that this guide has given you some tips on how to choose lighting for your dining room and that it now has a much closer feel to what you were hoping for.

If you still have some questions, check out our short FAQ below.

Good luck and happy dining!

Pin This:

This Is How To Choose Lighting For Your Dining Room

ig - that girl 2

Shop My Favorites

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *