Layered Looks in the Dining Room

Today’s dining rooms reflect consumers’ changing lifestyles. Once used solely for daily dining, this room has become much more multi-purpose. During the week, we use the dining room as a work zone, for homework, crafts, church work and organizational meetings. On the weekends and special occasions, it becomes a gathering place for parties and meals.

The result? Dining rooms must boast multiple lighting options that can go from functional to fashionable in the flick of a switch.

Layers of light

To get the best balance of illumination in the dining room, opt for layers of light. The most important thing a homeowner should recognize is that a dining room does not look well-lit if the only light source is a chandelier. A chandelier that is bright enough to illuminate a room will be too bright for comfort when dining. Likewise, if the chandelier’s light is comfortable on the eyes, it will be too dim for the rest of the room.

Start at the top

When choosing dining room lighting, start with a chandelier in the middle of the room, and then work out with accent lights. The chandelier will determine the room’s feeling. Use your imagination. In today’s more eclectic decor, even casual homes can have elegant dining rooms.

When selecting a chandelier, don’t worry about the fixture’s quality of light as much as its beauty and scale. Chandelier choices include everything from those with exposed bulbs to those with large alabaster diffusing bowls. Trends range from simple Mission-inspired models to ornate with crystal pendant accents.


Make sure you choose the right size chandelier for your environment. To find the right size chandelier, choose one with a diameter 12” less than the width of the table. This assumes the table is sized appropriately for the room. The bottom of chandelier should be 30-34” above the table. For ceilings nine feet or higher, consider a two-tier style chandelier to fill the space from the fixture’s top to the ceiling.


Mix it up: The trend of matching all the finishes throughout your home is no longer the only trend. Create new experiences in each room by changing and mixing finishes and textures.

The whole array of darker, richer bronzes continues to grow in strength. Manufacturers now have the ability to elegantly apply layers of color to create diverse finishes. The resulting look fits well with all styles and allows the fixture to blend with many colors in a room.

Softer metals: Brushed nickel, pewter and even brushed copper: The softer tones of these metals make it easier for a lighting to blend with a multi-toned interior.

Painted finishes: The availability of multi-toned colored finishes offers consumers fixtures with more depth and texture—a trend that has come about from the joining of style and technology.

Accents add sparkle

Accent lights, either recessed or track-mounted, on either side of the chandelier and between the ends of the table add a festive sparkle to china and crystal. Space them so they are not over the head of diners, but not so close to the chandelier to create shadows. Angle them toward the chandelier to add sparkle to the chandelier and provide down lighting.

Portable lighting, or table lamps, also plays an important role in the dining room area. Accent lamps on console tables or two great buffet lamps with unique shades can help create just the right mood for that special meal or occasion when the dining room is being utilized.

Other options include recessed or track lighting above buffets. Miniature low voltage pendants suspended three feet above the buffet offer a more contemporary look, while tall, thin candlestick lamps on either end can be more traditional.