What Makes the House Beautiful Dining Rooms Room Ideas The Best Colors for Your Dining Room 50 Best Designer Living Room Ideas Cool Light Fixtures for Your Kitchen Genius Ideas for Small Kitchens Chic Chairs for Outdoor Dining 10 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Dining Room dining rooms
When the light is dimmed, a soft, glowing atmosphere similar to candlelight is created. If equipped with a downlight component, the chandelier provides task lighting for the table and accent lighting for a centerpiece.
After a dramatic makeover, a Texas dining room now bursts with high-octane design, from the Zuber wallpaper to the molding’s Pantone shade of Piquant Green.
We’re putting the spotlight on elegant chandeliers, mahogany tables and more. Want extra inspiration for other areas in your home? Our living room and bathroom galleries are full of ideas.
SS: To get the best light quality on the table, a light should be installed 36 inches from the bottom of the fixture to the top of the table. That’s the standard. In a double-height room, or in cases where we want to engage with the larger architectural space, sometimes we’ll do 40 inches.
A San Francisco apartment’s small dining room doubles as a library, where part of owner John Mayberry’s art collection is displayed — including an antique bronze Sukhothai Buddha acquired in Bangkok, a vintage zebra-skin rug from London and a lamp made from an antique Chinese burial urn.
In the breakfast room of a 1930s home, designer Christopher Maya cultivated a lighthearted mood with an oval table of his own design and Hepplewhite side chairs from J&M Antiques that he stripped and bleached to give them a relaxed look. Floors were painted with an octagonal honeycomb pattern by Artgroove. Curtains and walls in a custom Tree of Life pattern from the Christopher Maya Collection. Italian chandelier, David Duncan Antiques.
Textiles can make a world of difference, especially in worldly patterns. Designer Michelle Nussbaumer covered dining room chairs in Senegalese prints for a big dose of “wow.”
SS: It all depends on the architecture and design of the space, as well as the style and form of the table. I don’t follow a rule. However, I like linear fixtures for rectangular tables, such as the Agnes Chandelier or Woody Endless Pendant by Roll and Hill. They are so elegant and crisp, and the proportions are perfect. I usually try to find something that’s about a third the length of the table.
A buffet or sideboard can be flanked with decorative wall sconces or buffet lights on either side. Doing so helps highlight the wall area around the sideboard, drawing attention to the furniture and whatever you may have displayed on top of the sideboard itself. As an added benefit, wall lighting adds another layer of light to the dining room, enhancing the visual richness of the space.
“The dining area in the great room was tricky because it’s so open,” says designer Summer Thornton of a Florida vacation home. She used Henredon’s Veneto dining table as the anchor, hanging Circa Lighting’s Gramercy chandelier over it. The slope of the arms of wicker Mallory dining chairs from Made Goods “gives them a certain elegance that separates them from outdoor furniture,” the designer says, and the vintage Indian dhurrie from Madeline Weinrib “brings age and history into the space.”
Avoid using high wattage light bulbs in your chandelier. Higher wattage bulbs will increase the heat over the table and can cause unwanted glare. Add a wall dimmer to your fixture or chandelier for greater lighting control.
A custom de Gournay wallpaper creates a secret garden in a Manhattan apartment. The cushions on the Scalamandré bamboo armchairs are covered in Mengikat by Kravet; the settee is also by Kravet.
Justina Blakeney used her own Aja wallpaper in her home’s dining room, this time in Aubergine. It’s a bold backdrop for furnishings including a set of Verner Panton chairs — hand-me-downs from her grandparents. The vintage Bumling pendant and Turkish kilim were found on eBay.
At a Lake Tahoe retreat, the formal dining area mixes rusticity and refinement. The custom plank table is large enough to seat 14 guests. The Aesthetic dining chairs are covered in a hair-on-hide leather by Cortina, “which feels perfect in the mountains,” says designer Matt O’Dorisio.
Dinner parties aren’t a problem here. In a home near Washington, D.C., the custom walnut table has rosewood banding and extends to seat 16.
SS: Normally I wouldn’t do a flush mount in a dining room, but if a room is boxy and the ceiling is low, the Anemone Large Flush Mount would be great, especially with a lacquered ceiling. Table lamps are nice on consoles or sideboards in dining rooms, as are decorative sconces. I also recommend light sources at different levels. I love Roll and Hill’s Excel Table Lamp, and the Panthella Lamp would look fantastic in a traditional setting. The classic AJ Wall Light has a beautiful form and would add a great pop of color to any room.
A dining room chandelier can act as a spectacular focal point of such an important space. Suspended over the dining table, it serves as a decorative style element that enhances the beauty of your fine furnishings.
In the dining room of this Cape Cod estate, a sea-grass rug covers the floor. Designer Kathryn M. Ireland reupholstered the owners’ Gustavian chairs and had the matching table made by the Lief gallery.
In the dining room of her Charleston rental, stylist Jill Sharp Weeks mixes elements from different eras and cultures. The photography triptych by Rob Brinson features objects from Weeks’s collection of tribal jewelry.
Chandeliers and pendant lights are typical go-to lights for dining rooms. Can you suggest another type of lighting someone should consider for this type of room?
What is the best way to incorporate modern lighting in a more traditional dining room?
Tags: AXO Light, Bocci, Flos, Foscarini, Louis Poulsen, Pendant Lights, Sara Story, TECH Lighting
In the kitchen of a South Carolina home by Michelle Prentice, a Danish dining table is surrounded by Jacob Kjaer chairs in Bretano’s Royalsuede and vintage French armchairs in Lee Jofa’s Tahira Ottoman fabric.
What kind of fixture do you like to hang over a long, rectangular dining table? How about over a round dining table?
A Brunschwig & Fils wallcovering gives a Hamptons dining room by Lisa McFadden an intimate feel.
SS: It’s interesting to work with scale and proportion and you can play with it depending on the look you are aiming to achieve. For a small room, I love a big fixture, like the Skygarden by Marcel Wanders. Something large-scale in a small room is whimsical and humorous, like seeing a mouse next to an elephant. I also love the Tropico Vertical Suspension Lamp fixture—its large scale is playful and unique. It evokes Polynesian or Asian traditional lighting, but in a contemporary way. Alternatively, using a small-scaled pendant lights can be interesting, like the Alva Pendant Light. A lack of presence can be very defining, too. I’d use a mercury-tip bulb for a vintage feeling, and hang a single one over an island, or a few over a counter.
A Hamptons dining room features Modern Living Supplies chairs in a Rubelli fabric. The custom Knotty Bubbles chandelier is by Lindsey Adelman.
SS: I prefer to have the light fixture centered on the table. But if you want to play with that a bit you can pick something that has multiple light sources, clustered or in a linear format, like in the Bocci 21.36 Rectangle Chandelier or the Spillray 10 Light Chandelier.
On the 40th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper, a round vintage table by Eero Saarinen echoes the curve of the windowed wall. The vintage Prague dining chairs are by Josef Frank.
Designer Sara Story offers expert strategies, ideas, and product picks. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but for those who love lingering over meals with friends and family, the dining room shares that billing—especially during the holiday season. The right lighting fixture can make the room visually and practically, and contribute to mood and functionality. Here, New York City-based designer Sara Story, known for her elegant and eclectic interiors and a new line of graphic wallpaper, offers her tips and ideas on how best to light a dining room.
A ring of recessed downlights around the dining table can supplement the light emitting from the chandelier while providing compelling accent lighting for your tableware or wall art.
SS: There are so many variables. I recently had a client with a traditional and dark dining room, so I selected the Bocci 28.19 Round Pendant Chandelier to add something white and light and contemporary. If the space was more informal I might have picked the Ilde Max—the red cords make it playful and fun. Another good choice for a traditional space is the Foscarini Wave Suspension Lamp. I love how it appears to be floating in space—it has a nice lightness and a tranquil feel. Sometimes if the architecture is bold you want the fixture to be simple, to keep attention on the molding or ceiling application. That’s what you see in a lot of old traditional European buildings — contemporary fixtures in old paneled rooms make the space current.
The pink upholstery on these vintage chairs pop thanks to a coat of high-gloss white. Floors here and throughout the Virginia house are painted in Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore mixed with clear stain.
Pierre Frey’s Espalier wallpaper hints at a California home’s verdant surroundings, while a Serena & Lily hanging rattan chair defines another seating area. Metal chairs from Restoration Hardware are topped with Ikea sheepskins. “That’s a trick you see on Scandinavian blogs,” designer France Merrill says. “When it gets cold, a sheepskin makes things super cozy.”
Antique Chinese porcelain birds rest on gilt-wood brackets in an eclectic dining room by Mackay Boynton. The dining chairs are from a local country club. The cashmere throw on the cane armchair is by Ralph Lauren Home.
Catherine Olasky chose “one of [her] all-time-favorite prints” — Nympheus linen by Thomas O’Brien for Lee Jofa — for the dining room curtains in her Texas home. South African Wonki Ware pottery is displayed in one of two hutches original to the house.
Contemporary dining room with a six-light frosted glass chandelier.
In the dining area of an island getaway, a Sedgwick & Brattle rope-wrapped chandelier hangs over a custom Global Views table. The McGuire chairs have cushions in a fabric from Jerry Pair.
In the dining room of Nestor Santa-Cruz’s Texas home, a re-edition of Poul Kjaerholm’s PK54 dining table is paired with vintage Maison Jansen chairs. “The table’s cube base talks to the square backs of the chairs,” notes Santa-Cruz.
In a blue-and-white beach house, Schumacher’s Feather Bloom sisal wallpaper by Celerie Kemble “acts like a breather,” says designer Andrew Howard. He hung a pair of lanterns by Circa Lighting above the homeowners’ existing Hickory Chair table and chairs. “They feel less formal than a chandelier.”
Sara Story: A dining room needs to have atmosphere and the perfect fixture and light output help achieve this goal. The light should sparkle and flatter. Usually a dining room is a smaller space with less going on than, say, a living room—fewer furnishings, often just a dining table and chairs. So a light fixture can be a central feature, like a beautiful piece of jewelry that’s also functional. A table has to be durable, chairs have to be comfortable, but a light fixture can be more adventurous because no one’s touching it, no one’s spilling food on it. It’s the perfect opportunity to have a sculptural element that creates a mood.
Is it important to center a light over a dining table? Is there another approach people should consider to light their eating area?
In this article, learn how to take advantage of the main types of light to create a truly elegant dining area in your home.
SS: I prefer all decorative fixtures be on dimmers so you can adjust as needed. When you’re having dinner with the kids and talking about your day, you want to be alert, so I’d make the light brighter. But when you’re drinking wine with friends, you want to dim the lights. I typically use 60-75-watt bulbs. Warm light is the most flattering in a dining room
To update a ’60s Houston house, Ray Booth and Elizabeth Kennedy outfitted the dining room with a sleek Bradley table. The McAlpine for Lee Industries chairs are covered in a Rogers & Goffigon linen blend and the curtains are in a Holly Hunt fabric.
If you’ve got a small round table, a globe or round chandelier is a no-brainer, since it echoes the table shape, or I’d cluster individual pendant lights. I like odd numbers for clusters, so I’d go with one, or else a cluster of three, five, or seven.
In the circa-1790 dining room of his Catskills, New York, weekend home, designer Juan Carretero painted the ceiling a high-gloss blush. “It gives your complexion a candlelit glow,” he says.
Consider using energy-efficient LED bulbs or sconces with built-in LED arrays to lower your energy consumption and your utility bill. And remember, when selecting sconces, make sure to choose fixtures that complement the style and finish of your chandelier.
Dining room lighting should be both beautiful and functional. This requires a mix of general, task, and accent lighting that can set the mood for a number of functions, including a formal dinner, a family get-together, and more routine activities like homework, hobbies, or family bookkeeping.
Any tips on how to pick the right size or scale of fixtures for the room?
De Gournay’s hand-painted tea paper gives a Connecticut dining room its dazzle, while the mirror came from an an antiques show. “It’s perfect,” says designer Elizabeth Bauer Watt. “It has a great shape, but it’s not a big gilt thing taking attention away from the paper.”
The verdant dining room of a Long Island home features walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s zesty Grenada Green and curtains in Quadrille’s Forbidden City fabric. Dining chairs are covered in a velvet by Schumacher. Antique chandelier from Meg Braff Designs.
Recessed lighting and dining room track lighting can provide general lighting, but the main benefit of these low-profile fixtures is that they enable homeowners to highlight (as accent, as the name suggests) prized or important possessions throughout the room.
In a renovated Tudor beach house on the New Jersey shore, Colleen Bashaw conjures a riot of boho quirk for Scott Belair, the cofounder of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. The breakfast room’s wallpaper is Brett Design’s Knit Large.
Designer Nina Farmer updated a period home with a Phillip Jeffries horsehair wall covering. Around a Keith Fritz table, dining chairs are covered in a textured linen jute from Holland & Sherry.
To nail the hue of a Manhattan dining room, Celerie Kemble matched Fine Paints of Europe lacquer to a Pantone color. Kemble’s Yves dining table and Cassandra chairs in a George Spencer Designs velvet are from Henredon.
Designer Gary McBournie covered a Nantucket cottage’s dining room with reflective Champagne on Pewter Leaf wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries. “It’s really nice at night, with the candles lit,” he says. “It provides a soft, dull reflection with great warmth.” The chairs are designed by Duane Modern.
What’s important to keep in mind when lighting a dining room?