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The secret recipe for spot-on dining room lighting

Design Inspiration Lifestyle

Lighting a dining room can be tricky – too bright and it can ruin the intimate atmosphere of a dinner date, but too dingy and you’ll struggle to even see who’s on the other side of the table. The solution? Using a mix of lighting sources to bring balance to your space. And we’re about to give you the secret recipe for perfect lighting every time. Let’s get into it!

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What are the different types of hanging lights?

Hanging lights can be roughly split into two categories. The first is pendants – this means any lighting fixture that hangs by a chain, stem, cable, or wire. The second is chandeliers; technically, chandeliers are also pendants, but the difference is they have multiple arms or stems.

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If you’re after some eye-catching statement lighting for your dining room, then you should consider a chandelier. They’re usually more decorative and help to set a more formal tone, perfect if you’re planning on hosting a lot of dinner parties. And don’t worry, there’s plenty of more modern designs available!

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Pendant lighting comes in many different shapes and sizes, from bowl pendants to linear pendants, and it isn’t just their style that sets them apart. Certain types of pendant lighting will work better in different situations than others, for example a linear pendant will work best over a kitchen island or dining table.

Find balance with different light sources

The secret recipe for perfect dining room lighting contains three key ingredients. Firstly, you must use a variety of light sources to bring balance to the space. While hanging lights will be your primary light source, using soft lighting around the edge of the room will provide ambient light and help to make the room feel more open.

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Floor lamps can work really well here – they counteract the low hanging pendant lighting to balance out the sense of height in the room. Just make sure you choose warm, soft light that blends nicely to avoid taking attention away from the dining table. Alternatively, you could use wall lighting, as long as it’s dimmable.

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Make the most of natural light

The second ingredient is to use the natural light you have available to you. If you’re lucky enough to have skylights or bay windows, then daytime lighting won’t be a problem for you. If your dining room is lacking on the natural light front, don’t worry – there’s ways to get around it.

You can use mirrors to bounce natural light around the room, which is great for making smaller dining spaces seem larger than they are. Choosing a lighter colour scheme will also help to reflect more natural light, opening up your space even more. Check out our other tips on small dining rooms for more useful ideas.

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Light to scale

The final key ingredient is the golden rule of lighting a dining room, and that is to balance the ratio of lighting to table size. For example, a singular pendant light over a long dining table is going to leave a lot of your dining room in the dark. Instead, a linear pendant that runs the length of the table would work much better.

One other thing to bear in mind – if you have an extending dining table, make sure there’s sufficient lighting for the entire length of the table. The last thing you want is for those at the end of the table being left in the dark.

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How to choose lighting for a round dining table

For square or round dining tables, it’s all about keeping the focus on what’s going on at the table. Centrally positioned hanging lights over the table, especially a statement cluster of pendants, will look absolutely stunning. Just make sure they don’t hang too low as this will potentially block sight lines across the table.

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How to choose lighting for a long dining table

Long, rectangular dining tables require light evenly spread along their length. Rather than one central fixture, we recommend a linear chandelier or multiple pendants. Spacing them out along your table will ensure even lighting for everyone – just make sure they’re on a dimmer so you can set the mood easily.

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Lighting a kitchen diner

When you’ve got a multipurpose space like a kitchen diner, getting the lighting right is crucial. You need bright task lighting in the kitchen so you’re able to see what you’re doing, but you also need to be able to set the mood in the dining area.


Both recessed and track lighting will work well for the kitchen area, especially directional lighting so you can really focus it where you need it. If you do go for a pendant for the kitchen area, make sure it doesn’t hang too low otherwise it could get in the way.

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For the dining area, follow the perfect lighting recipe above, but ensure that your kitchen lighting is on a different circuit to the dining lighting. This way you’ll be able to turn off any bright lights in the kitchen and keep the atmosphere at the table. Check out our other kitchen dining room ideas for more top tips.

Planning a dining room revamp? Make sure you tag us on Instagram with #MYFVHOME when it’s finished so we can feature it on our feed! And if you’re looking for more tips on creating your perfect home, we’ve got plenty more articles for you to take a look at.

In fact, here’s two more we think you’ll love:

Dining room trends that will never go out of style

The life-changing magic of reclaiming the dining table


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