Dining room lighting ideas – set the mood for everything from dinner to homework

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  • We've got some brilliant lighting tips to bring to the table

    With a well-planned lighting scheme, your dining room can really shine. A dining room is often used at night, so achieving the right atmosphere through lighting is crucial, particularly in the winter months when the days are short.

    For drama in a more formal setting, nothing beats a beautiful chandelier or overside shade suspended directly above the table. Unlike other room, it doesn’t require a high ceiling as it’s not going to be walked under. And here’s another tip – positioning two downlight either side of a crystal or glass chandelier creates extra sparkle.

    Get your whole scheme spot on with our dining room ideas

    Don’t forget that glazed cabinets filled with your favourite dinnerware can look beautiful when lit. Or try a striking floor lamp, perhaps in a metallic of the moment like brass or gold. Table lamps can brighten up a sideboard in more ways than one, too.

    Read on for more of our brilliant dining room lighting ideas.

    1. Suspend a run of pendants


    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Take a tip from many a gastropub and get your electrician to install a series of pendant lights along the length of your table. It will give even lighting, and is a good way to go if you regularly host dinner parties.

    For a contemporary look, opt for colourful coloured cords and bare industrial-style bulbs.

    2. Play with scale


    Image credit: David Merewether

    For open-plan kitchen-diners, a matchy-matchy approach can ensure a coherent look. But don’t go for shades all the same size. Here, the owners have sourced similarly shaped pendants, but used bigger ones over the dining table, and smaller ones as task lighting over the island.

    3. Add a pop of colour


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    You can really establish an existing colour scheme by hanging a pendant in a coordinating colour. Enamel designs like this come in all the shades of the rainbow, so you’re sure to find one that’s exactly right. Up the ante with an Anglepoise-style lamp on a nearby sideboard. Though they’re typically used on a desk, they’ll work well in a dining room, since you can angle the bulb differently depending on the mood you’re trying to create.

    4. Display fairy lights within foliage


    Image credit: Paul Raeside

    It’s an amazing idea at Christmas, of course, but this look can be effective all year round. You will first need to assess how much weight your ceiling can hold – if you’re using a branch as a base, which is a good idea, make sure it’s supported with several lengths of wire or metal chain, spread evenly for stable support.

    Alternatively, you could attach foliage to existing fixtures, like ceiling rafters or a chandelier.

    5. Tone in with metallics


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Not everyone is a big fan of colour. So if you feel safer with neutrals, here’s a good way to upgrade lighting without it overwhelming your space. Pick a metallic that’s pretty without being too showy – copper and brass are ideal. A metal shade will add class to your space and tones beautifully with wood for a touch of glamour that’s not overbearing.

    6. Go glam with a chandelier


    Image credit: Mark Bennett

    Related: Small dining room ideas that will make the most of any space

    Talk about stealing the show! This glam black chandelier instantly ups the wow factor in this traditional dining area. A low-hanging piece such as this is only practical when positioned above a table, so that it cannot be bumped into.

    7. Pick an oversized pendant


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Chandeliers are great for adding impact, but they’re not for everyone – or, indeed, every look. Another route is to choose an oversized pendant. This will create a more subtle statement, and you have more freedom to choose a material that works with the rest of the room. Here, a woven design is the perfect match for a smart country scheme achieved with greyish oak furniture and a vintage-inspired wallpaper.

    8. Perk up a sideboard with a table lamp


    Image credit: Chris Everard

    In a living room, you wouldn’t think twice about adding a couple of table or floor lamps. Turn the ‘big light’ off and you can use them to create a more relaxing mood when you’re watching a movie or curling up with your Kindle. So why not do the same in your dining room? A pair of lamps – one on a sideboard and perhaps one on a tall lamp table – will create just the right ambience for a romantic dinner for two, or relaxed after-dinner chat amongst friends.

    Be daring – and choose a shade in a strong colour that will disappate the light further when it’s dark, and add colour by day.

    9. Change the mood with rise-and-fall lighting


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    No space for table lamps? You can switch the atmosphere using a rise-and-fall light. As the name suggests, it can be lowered and raised on a whim. Keep it low to the table for intimacy and high up for a brighter feel. Installing you will give you even more flexibility.

    10. Mix and match pattern


    Image credit: Mark Scott

    A sociable dining area is a great place to have fun with pattern – and may encourage the family to sit at the table for dinner. Pick a colour, then clash patterns – as long as they’re the same tone, you’re guaranteed success. However, you may want to stick with a theme for your fabrics – like floral.

    Buy a drum lampshade-making kit and you can make your own in an material you love. It’s surprisingly easy!

    Buy now: 40cm Lampshade Making Kit for Pendants Or Table Lamps, £14.99, Amazon

    11. Keep it simple with spotlights


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Next up: Dining table decoration ideas to set the scene for your dinner party

    By day, this table benefits from the rays streaming in from the skylight above it. At light,  spotlights installed around the roof lantern will make it bright enough to dine at.

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