Whether you’re having an intimate dinner for two or a family-sized holiday feast, nothing sets the mood in your dining room like the right lighting. From lamps to candles to sconces and chandeliers, you’ve got a lot of options that will help create just the right atmosphere. It’s important to light your room in layers, thinking both vertically (from the ceiling to floor) and horizontally (from one side of the room to the other.) To determine the correct overall wattage for the room, the rule of thumb is to multiply the width of the room by its length, and then multiply that number by 1.5. Here are some of the types of lights you need and how to choose each wisely:
The chandelier is the most important light in the dining room. It anchors and highlights the table and helps set the tone for your style. Pick a fixture that relates to the dining room table in terms of its size, shape and style. For example, a round table will look best with a round chandelier, while a rectangular table will look best with an oblong light or two smaller chandeliers paired to create impact. Choose a fixture that is at least 12” smaller than the table in all directions. A table that measures 40” x 54”, for example, should have a fixture that’s no more than 16” x 30”. Hang the fixture so the bottom is 30” to 36” above the surface of the table. And installing a dimmer switch on a chandelier is an investment in ambiance.
Glass pendant lights are another overhead lighting option. These provide ambient lighting and put the spotlight on your dining room table. Depending on the size of your table, you can use one, two, three or more, creating a dramatic focal point. It’s up to you.
Add light to the middle of your room by using wall sconces. These can be strategically placed to highlight a piece of furniture or artwork, and they also underscore your style and design aesthetic. A good rule of thumb when hanging a wall sconce is to have the middle of the fixture sit 60” above the floor. Before you install it, make sure your sconce is at a height where it doesn’t provide glare to someone sitting at the table.
Just like their name implies, buffet lamps are meant to sit on your buffet. These fixtures are taller and thinner than a regular table lamp, usually standing about 32” to 36” high. Buffet lamps are often used in pairs, flanking the two sides of the buffet. They come in handy if you’re setting out appetizers or serving a buffet-style meal where guests might appreciate extra lighting around the food.
Buffet lamps are a great opportunity to add some style and color to the dining room. Their shades come in a variety of colors, from white and cream to more vibrant red, teal and green.