Everything You Need To Know About Dining Room Lighting

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Nobody likes eating in the dark, right? So when you’re deciding on the right light for your dining room, there’s not only style to consider, but practicality too.

Where will your table sit? Is your space too small for a pendant? How bright should the light be?

We’re looking at every aspect of dining room lighting, from ambient brightness to cluster designs…

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Featuring: Morley Concrete Pendant Light from Casa Uno, Ernest Jute Rug from j.elliot HOME, and the Sawyer Dining Chair, Licorice (Set of 2) from Zanui. Shop pendant lights online at Zanui.

Size and Space

We’re guessing you want your dining room lighting to adorn the space over your table; to shed light on those pre-dawn starts and illuminate the weekend family dinners. Practical, yes?

The main thing to consider when picking lighting is the size of your table. You want your lighting to be in proportion with your furniture.

For large, long tables (six to eight seaters) go for larger chandeliers or pendant clusters. And for smaller tables (four seaters) or round tables, go for singular pendants or smaller ceiling lights.

Similarly, consider the size of your room as a whole. If you have an open plan space, wider pendants can help fill out the space. Alternatively, if your room is closed in, consider wall-mounted lights that won’t look out of place.

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Featured: Industrial Pulley Pendant Light from Amonson Lighting. Shop pendant lights online at Zanui.

The Technical Stuff

Ambience and atmosphere are important, and that means the brightness and warmth of your lighting. We’ll try not to get too technical, but here are the four main things you need to know.

  1. Lumens: light is measured in lumens, which is the amount of light emitted in all directions from the bulb. The higher the lumens of the bulb, the more illuminated your room will be.
  2. Beam angle: the way the light falls over your space depends on the bulb and the shade of your light. The three main angles, from smallest to largest, include a spotlight, a flood light, and a wide flood light.
  3. Temperature: the warmth of a bulb is measured in degree kelvin and ranges from ‘very warm’ (1000k), ‘warm white’ (2700-3000k), ‘natural white’ (4000k), and ‘day light’ (6500k) to ‘very cool’ (10,000k).
  4. Energy efficiency: LED bulbs are generally known for being the more energy efficient options for modern light bulbs. They have a longer life, and that means you buy fewer bulbs and create less waste.

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Featured: Replica Cecilie Manz Caravaggio Pendant Light from Amonson Lighting. Shop pendant lights online at Zanui.

Lighting Style Tips

Contrasting Textures

Don’t forget to consider the texture and material of your dining table and surrounding furniture, as this can impact the overall style of your space. You don’t want to be too ‘matchy’.

Contrast timber tables with natural concrete pendants and cork detailing, or stark metal cage lights for an industrial-glam touch.

And if you have a glass tabletop, opt for clean style-lines with matte metal shades or contrasting rattan textures for a laid-back, beachy feel.

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Featured: Foucault’s Rope Chandelier from Amonson Lighting. Shop chandeliers online at Zanui.

Exposed Filament Bulbs

To carry the vintage vibe through, be selective with your bulb choice. Globes with exposed filaments give an industrial, old-time feel to your space.

Cluster pendants and industrial cage lights expose the raw light best, working well with the minimalist style. It’s a simple way to add stacks of character, especially if you’re short on space.

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Featured: Funnel Filament Pendant Light from Amonson Lighting. Shop pendant lights online at Zanui.

Keeping it Simple

The right single pendant or ceiling light can be a show-stopper, and is ideal for smaller spaces. If you want to go bold, go big with an oversized light or a chandelier (especially if you have high ceilings!).

If you’ve got more space to cover, double up your pendants by suspending two or more of the same light at the same height over your table. This gives a more vintage appeal.

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Featured: Replica Cecilie Manz Caravaggio Pendant Light from Amonson Lighting. Shop pendant lights online at Zanui.

Mix-and-Match Clusters

If you’ve been blessed with high ceilings, cluster lighting could be the impact you’re looking for. They’ll give your dining room character and queue café-style eating.

Create your own cluster by mixing large and small pendants or differing the heights (ask an electrician to install this for you!).

Or buy a complete cluster – many pendants now come in ready-made cluster lights which makes them easier for an electrician to install and they look amazing!

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Featured: Replica Classicon Selene Pendant Light from Amonson Lighting. Shop pendant lights online at Zanui.

Floor & Table Lamps

There’s more to dining room lighting that pendants, chandeliers, and ceiling lights. Create an atmosphere by bringing lights down from their heights and onto your eye level. We’re talking lamps.

Obviously it’s a little tricky to fit a floor lamp into a four-walled, closed-in room. But adding a lamp to the corner of your open-plan space can give it a more relaxed, living room feel and make the two areas feel more connected.

You can also adorn sideboards and consoles in your dining room with a table lamp or two. The contrast between ceiling light and lower light sources will give dimension and warmth to your room.

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Mood Lighting Lanterns

If you’re short on space, you can still create that warm, ambient atmosphere by adding mood lighting to your dining room table or sideboard.

For more classical styles, we love the romance of the candelabra; they create drama in your décor and a dance of shadow-light.

Lanterns that hold pillar or tea light candles can bring charm to a décor vignette or table centrepiece. Just like lamps, candlelight brings a soft glow to contrast your ceiling light and helps round out the room’s ambience.

It’s the small touches that make the room feel homely, especially if you’re hosting a dinner party or a date night for two 😉

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Featured: Galle Lantern from Satara, and the Bakewell Cross-Back Oak Dining Chair from Dover Mason. Shop candles and lanterns online at Zanui.

Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW. She has experience in copywriting, blogging, journalism, and social media. After completing two degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2013 she began work with the content team at Zanui. Kyra was the winner of the 2012 Questions Writing Prize and her work has been published in print and online for numerous sources, including Writer's Edit, Seizure, and Fairfax Media among others.