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Interior Design 101: Lighting your dining room

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
House Fourie Country style dining room by Muse Architects Country
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The modern-day dining room is so much more than a space to eat. It’s become one of a home’s most versatile rooms, transformed into a zone perfectly suitable for fancy dinner parties, informal meals/snacks, helping the little ones with homework, and a myriad of other activities. That means getting a few factors right in setting up your dining room, especially its lighting to help strike a visual balance (and properly illuminate the space, obviously).

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks our professional Interior Designers/Decorators swear by when it comes to lighting a dining room. 

1. Scale your statement lighting

Connected Atlantic Living - Dining Modern dining room by Jenny Mills Architects Modern
Jenny Mills Architects

Connected Atlantic Living—Dining

Jenny Mills Architects

Whether you prefer downlighters to chandeliers, it’s vital to reach a size balance between your lighting fixture and the table beneath it. But take the size of your dining room also into consideration. An oversized fixture will dwarf your dining table, while a too-small one can make your table seem bulky or just plain wrong. 

The general rule of thumb? If your room is less than 3 m wide, opt for a fixture less than 60 cm wide for a more visually appealing look. A bigger room means you can go bigger with your statement lighting fixture. 

2. Get the shapes right

Barcelona Apartment Eclectic style dining room by ARRCC Eclectic
ARRCC

Barcelona Apartment

ARRCC

We’re all for contrasting, but sometimes balancing a linear pendant with a circular table just doesn’t work. Avoid this issue by ensuring your lighting fixture and table are both similar in shape (with a touch of contrast added in).

For instance, for a rectangular or oblong dining table, we recommend a linear suspension, a large circular fixture, two hanging fixtures on either end of the table or a neat row of smaller pendants for an effective layered design. 

And if you have a square or round dining table, we suggest containing your lighting fixture within the table’s dimensions, i.e. a series of pendants dangling perfectly above the table in staggered lengths. 

3. How high are you?

76 cm is the standard height you can hang your pendants above your dining table. However, bear in mind that this is subject to the height of your ceiling, as well as the length of your household and guests. Of course you don’t want a particularly tall dinner guest to bump their heads against your contemporary pendants, so you might need to raise it a little higher. 

4. Layered lighting to set the mood

Layered lighting is recommended for all rooms, but required for multi-tasking spaces like kitchens and dining rooms. Think about how you want to alter the mood in your dining room depending on different evenings and themes. The lighting for a Friday night dinner with friends won’t necessarily be the same as for a romantic evening with just you and your significant other. Thus, you want the freedom to switch the mood from bright and energetic to soft, intimate and relaxing whenever needed. 

In addition, using smart globes in your pendants will allow you to alter your lighting’s mood as you deem fit. Just remember to consult a professional Electrician every time you need to adjust anything relating to electricity.  

5. Lighting ideas for your dining room: Chandeliers

Even super modern spaces get to flaunt aptly designed chandeliers these days, thanks to the versatility of lighting fixtures and –designers. Multi-light chandeliers evenly illuminate a table while helping to eliminate dark spots. And a chandelier with multiple glass globes can be ideal for a dimly lit affair. 

Just keep our height recommendations in mind! 

6. Lighting ideas for your dining room: Pendants

Project: Volstruis Ave, Yzerfontein Eclectic style dining room by de Beyer Design Studio Eclectic
de Beyer Design Studio

Project: Volstruis Ave, Yzerfontein

de Beyer Design Studio

Pendants are a brilliant source of task- or directional lighting that illuminate downwards when hung over a table or countertop. Should you be privy to a spacious dining room, feel free to play around with different pendant designs (and sizes, and colours) until you find the perfect one(s).

Just keep in mind:

• The smaller the pendant, the smaller the area it will light, and

• Furniture- or décor arrangements in uneven numbers (3 or 5 pendants) always look better than even ones (2 or 4). 

Keen for some more inspiration? See The 5 best renovations to up your property value

What does your dream dining room (and its lighting) look like?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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