Clients often wonder about the "correct" way to choose and hang a light fixture over a dining room table. While there are no absolute rules, there are some guidelines that can help.
1. Shape It
Generally speaking, it is prudent to choose a dining table before choosing a fixture to go over it. If you choose a round dining table, a round fixture works well.
If you have a long, rectangular table or an extension table, linear pendants are the better choice.
Here is a linear pendant of metal, marble, and silk I chose for a dining room for a client who had a long, rectangular glass table.
Or if you have a fixture you like but it is too small, you can arrange multiple lights over a dining table.
2. Scale It
Another rule of thumb is that your fixture should be at least 12 inches smaller than the table in all directions. So, for example, a 48" diameter round table will look best with a light that's no more than 24" wide. For a 36" wide rectangular table, look for a light that is no more than 12" wide.
Linear pendants can be kept in scale by choosing one that is 1/3 to 2/3 the length of the table.
3. Hang It
Again, generally speaking, the dining room table functions best when the bottom of a light fixture is hung around 30"-36" from the table top. Much more than that and you'll be losing the actual light output, not to mention visual impact. Of course some homes and dining rooms have higher-than-usual ceiling heights, so in these cases, it is best to hang the fixture where it seems to look best in between the ceiling height and table top...within reason. Use your judgment and keep it in scale.
4. Dim It
One of the most important things to consider when choosing and hanging a light fixture is the light output. A dining experience should not make you feel like you are being questioned by the police, so installing a dimmer is a must. Make sure that the fixture you choose is dimmable. And depending on the voltage and type of fixture, you may have to purchase a special type of dimmer.
5. Layer It
Dining room light fixtures offer a lot: style, visual impact, and of course light. But a light fixture can only do so much. If you can, think about adding layers of light. In fact, my Design Mantra #4 to the right on this page is "Layer your lighting." Use a combination of ambient light like recessed lights along with wall sconces or table or side lamps to vary light and to introduce illumination from many sources. This goes for every room, not just dining rooms.
Of course if you hire me to design your dining room, all of these issues are taken care of!
Have a bare dining room? Give me a call!