Lighting is essential in every space to create a good atmosphere and of course, for practicality too. Pendant lights are the main choice for a dining room, but there are plenty of different designs – from trendy bare bulbs, swag ceiling lights and enamel shades to clear glass and rattan shade designs.
It's not just about the lighting design though, it's about how you style them together also. Layering lighting is key for a successful finish, especially when you're highlighting the best dining room ideas for your household and any guests to admire.
Dining room lighting ideas
It's easy to transform a dark dining room into a stylish, well lit space. If you've never thought about opting for two or three light fixtures above, think again as this can actually highlight your dining room table decor. But there are plenty more way to set the mood and strike the perfect balance between style and function.
1. Go for a retro look with a globe chandelier
There’s no reason why your dining room can’t have bold and beautiful lighting. We love this globe light, it has a cool retro feel and as a result, it won’t date.
Let it take center stage above your table, and the beauty of this kind of design is that the monochromatic element means it will work in any color scheme you choose.
‘We are being bolder with our lighting, experimenting with more unexpected shapes as our homes evolve to reflect our individual style more,’ says Anna Cross, home living buyer, Habitat.
2. Clear glass is an ongoing trend
We’ve seen a resurgence recently of clear glass pendants and it’s easy to see why, they’re stunning to look at and work in both classic and contemporary settings.
The simplicity of this round design makes it a beautiful choice, it can hang on its own above your dining table and we love the touch of brass that adds warmth. Plus, it's a great way to help brighten a dark room in particular.
3. A large dining table will require a wider light
When you have a rectangular shaped table, you’ll need to consider the size of your pendant light. You don’t need multiple designs, one will do, as long as you have the width that can spread the light evenly across the table.
Look out for hanging lights like this design, it’s contemporary with the bare bulbs hanging down and they’re great for dispersing the light well.
- Find the best kitchen lighting in our roundup.
4. Say yes to fancy chandeliers with a modern edge
We tend to think chandeliers can only be used as living room lighting or in the bedroom, but this fabulous white design looks great above this circular dining table. The shape mimics the table which helps the whole look to flow visually.
This look is for those who love a little frivolity and fun, and of course being white means it will go with any table setting scheme you have.
5. Choose one single pendant for impact
‘From busy family gatherings, homework stations to intimate dinner parties with friends, the dining room is one of the most used rooms in the house.
Pendant lighting works best in this space, hanging them over the dining table creates a low-level and intimate glow, perfect for entertaining,’ explains Natalie Mann, new product development coordinator for Iconic Lights.
6. Add texture with a wide rattan shade
If you love the natural look then look no further than a rustic design. Tactile elements add a new dimension to a scheme and a shade like this looks great with rattan chairs and a coir rug.
Width is also important and you can see that this design is ideal in size with this round table, it’s about getting the proportions right so it looks balanced visually.
7. Mix up your patterns for an eclectic look
If you love the ‘clashing patterns’ look then don’t opt for plain shades, go for full on designs like these – complete with fringing!
They’re fun and fancy, and will be a talking point at your dinner parties. To make it work from a style point of view match a few key colors, here, the red, green and orange match the wallpaper and the white background ties in with the dresser and white painted floorboards.
8. Add a pair for style and function
‘Opt for an oversized pendant - or two - in a striking material or color to make a design statement that elevates your existing decorating scheme,’ says Mann.
‘Another great tip is to combine any style of dining room light with a dimmer. It gives complete control over the brightness and allows you to determine the mood of the room.’
9. A low hanging bar light is a contemporary choice
We asked Peter Legg, lead designer at där lighting his advice on dining room lighting:
‘Dining rooms are a great area in which to add a statement design such as a cluster pendant, low hanging bar or generously sized chandelier. To ensure it’s a comfortable setting, don’t forget to consider the height of the light you’re using, choose a position that’s not at eye level when seated. You can also use table lamps to help add ambience and draw attention to artwork or other accessories.
If you have an open plan kitchen diner, layer your lighting. In the kitchen it’s best to give a good amount of light, opting for LED lamps that give a crisp light for food preparation. Complement this with a low hanging bar pendant over a dining area that can be fitted to a dimmer to produce the perfect lighting for entertaining.’
- Find all the best kitchen lighting ideas in our edit.
10. Use a bar pendant to ‘zone’ your table area
‘Open plan kitchen diners and islands can be sectioned into “zones” with the use of distinctive lighting,’ Mary Buchanan, creative director and board director, Laura Ashley Lighting and Mirrors.
‘This can be accomplished by the use of directional down-lights or spot tasks with swivel joints within the prep and cooking areas and oversized statement pendants with dimmers over the table or island to add drama and atmosphere. Bar pendants offer a direct stream of light to provide a welcoming feel for guests and a focal point. Choose designs that are as functional as they are good to look at.’
11. Add color with a bold oversized design
This beautiful block color dining room is the epitome of modernity. The electric blue walls and woodwork are the perfect background for these uber bright chairs and accessories.
The chandelier contrasts brilliantly with its bright yellow shades. This look isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you love color then embrace it fully.
‘At Pooky we’re all about introducing brave pops of color to give your favourite rooms an added sense of energy and playfulness. In a dining room, a great statement-making light source, one which really commands a space is a chandelier. Whether a traditional design or more simplistic silhouette, you can choose different shades and finishes for some of our chandeliers to create something characterful and bright, allowing your personality to shine. On a functional level, these are ideal for a dining space, as they allow for an even spill of light to illuminate the faces of your fellow diners. Hang centred, hovering over the dining table for best results,’ says Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky.
12. Lantern lighting works well for rectangular tables
Choose your lighting to fit your dining table style – a long and narrow design like this will give you great light all along your table which is ideal for homework, working from home and entertaining with friends.
The black and glass design will work in any scheme be it modern or classic and you can use black chairs and accessories to tie the look together.
13. Illuminate your dining table with wall lighting
Designed by California based interior design studio Lindye Galloway, this dining room has a lovely light and airy feel.
‘This home was our own take on a modern farmhouse, we mixed vintage pieces with new and created a homey feel with leather and wood accents. We wanted the lighting to be dramatic so we hung wall lights that extended over the dining table from the wall that created a unique look from any angle,’ says Lindye Galloway, founder and chief creative office at Lindye Galloway Studio.
The white painted shiplap walls create the farmhouse feel whilst the metal wall lights add structure and a modern touch. They are perfectly spaced to ensure the whole length of the table gets great light.
14. Dining room lighting can be subtle
We tend to think that dining room lighting needs to be standout and statement making, but it can be subtle and stylish.
This black metal chandelier with white shades is understated yet still eye-catching. It does what it needs to do from a functional point of view yet doesn’t distract the eye from the rest of the scheme.
‘This dining room replaced the old family room next to the kitchen in our client's home,’ explains Kirsten Krason, co-founder and principal designer at House of Jade Interiors.
‘We took out the large windows and added in doors that walk out onto the back deck. We warmed up the space by adding in wood beams and a floating wood mantel on the fireplace.The star of this room is the custom made dining cushion that adds the perfect subtle pattern!’
15. White globe lights will diffuse the light
For entertaining, light needs to be subtle, not bright and glaring. White opal glass is the ideal material for this kind of feel and it’s also right on trend.
With a slight retro feel, this DEJSA pendant lamp from Ikea is easy on the eye in every way and the soft curving design gives a ‘friendly’ feel.
16. Pick a textured pendant for a rustic feel
This clever String Pendant shade is actually made from black and white string which is really unusual. Hang a pair above your dining table and look out for other textures like these grey vases, tactile runner and wooden bowls. Dried flowers are a big trend this season so use them to add another textural layer to this fabulous rustic dining room decor look.
17. Simple accent pendants
We love the simplicity of these IKEA pendant lights in dark red. They give off a glare-free light which is ideal for a dining table and you can use red as an accent for the rest of your dining table scheme – plates, seat cushions, table runner – to keep the look cohesive.
18. Make a colorful statement
This green metal ceiling light is certainly one for lovers of modern styling as it adds a splash of color to this simple dining room scheme. This design makes a striking centerpiece, the three oversized shades allow the light to cascade evenly, and it would also work well to light a kitchen island.
19. Make it a trio
Choosing a clear glass pendant will help to create the illusion of space, as you can see through the shade. And you can add design interest by instilling the power of three. This will work particularly well if your dining space is on the small side. This Gloucester linear bar from UK Next has three gorgeous glass shaded pendants with chrome detailing – their design ensures they will suit both trad and modern schemes. You can find similar styles at Home Depot.
20. Create contrast for a dramatic dining room
How dreamy is this dining room? To make this style work you need the contrast of light and dark, and Argos' ceiling pendant light certainly creates that! This one is made from opal glass it gives a diffused light and the rich gold fitting adds a glamorous feel – it looks stunning against the navy walls.
What light is best for a dining table?
The best kind is one that illuminates the table enough so you can entertain whilst creating a lovely mood. If your table is long then you will need more than one light, that’s where bar lighting or a row of pendants comes in.
Where should light be placed in a dining room?
As mentioned above, the dining table is a key in terms of lighting. Aside from that you could use wall lights to create a lovely warming glow, if you put them on a dimmer you can control the light easier. Floor and table lights can also work.