Dining room lighting ideas – switch up the mood from everyday dining to entertaining

We've got some brilliant dining room lighting ideas and tips to bring to the table. They'll help you illuminate your space and add style with ease

With well-planned dining room lighting ideas, your space can really shine.

Todays dining room is a multifunctional space that can be used for various different purposes throughout the day, from serving family breakfasts followed by working from home to hosting an intimate dinner party. No one function is the same, meaning your dining room lighting scheme is key to cater for the needs of each task at hand.

Where a home office might require a more directional task light, an ambient dinner setting welcomes a softer approach to lighting. To make the room ideal for all occasions consider mixing your lighting choices.

'Create a conversation with your lighting using different heights with side lamps as well as floor standing and ceiling lights too,' advises Martin Waller, Founder of Andrew Martin.

'Why limit yourself to a single dimmer switch when you can be surrounded with warmth? Good lighting is imperative to creating an ambience, a cove of cosiness and intimacy.' Essential qualities in a dining room setting.

Dining room lighting ideas

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 rooms, it doesn't require a high ceiling as it's not going to be walked under. And here's another tip – positioning two downlights either side of a crystal or glass chandelier creates extra sparkle.

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 in a stylish dining room idea.

1. Create a point of focus with a captivating pendant

White dining table, flowers in vase, wood pendant light, blue and white chairs and bifold doors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachel Smith)

Hanging a single statement pendant light centrally over the dining table helps to create a point of focus, to draw the eye to the main area within the room – the table. This works well in both large and small dining rooms.

Whether you use that table for mealtimes, homework or your day job, a main overhead light will be your friend. Having a central source of light helps to anchor the room around it and it will determine furniture placement.

Add floor standing and table lamps on sideboards to add accents to create ambience, to be flicked on as and when needed.

2. Keep it simple with spotlights

Light greay dining area with wooden table, blue and white chairs and blue cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

By day, this table benefits from the rays of natural daylight streaming in from the skylight above and bouncing off the walls in this white kitchen.

At night, spotlights installed around the roof lantern will make it bright enough to dine at. Choose dimmable spotlights to have further control of the light levels to determine the kind of atmosphere you want for the dinner setting.

3. Suspend a run of pendants

Navy blue dining room with built-in wooden bench seating along one wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/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 flex cords and bare industrial-style bulbs.

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

A white dining area with rise and fall pendants over a wooden dining table and blue metal chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/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 a smart design, like the one in this white dining room, will give you the flexibility you need to adapt the space to suit multiple purposes in an instant.

5. Play with scale in the same style

A neutral kitchen diner with a white island, yellow bar stools and pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Merewether)

In open-plan kitchens, a matchy-matchy approach can ensure a coherent look. But don't go for shades all the same size. Use an assortment of the same style in different sizes to add scale to different zones.

In this smart kitchen idea the owners have sourced similarly shaped pendants, but used bigger ones over the dining table, and smaller ones as task lighting over the island.

6. Add accent lighting with lamps

Dining room with wooden table, chairs and drawers. Plate rack shelf and clock on wall next to windows with light curtains.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

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.

7. Position a floor lamp for directional light

Dining room with wooden table, brown fabric covered chairs, curved standing lamp next to bifold doors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

If you don't have a sideboard to place a lamp on why not choose a floor lamp instead? One like this arched design to spill a pool of light directly onto the dining table.

A floor standing lamp in the corner of the room can also add ambient lighting, allowing the overhead lights to be dimmed or turned off altogether for a more intimate dining occasion. Welcome candlelight to the table to enhance the atmosphere.

8. Add a pop of coordinating colour

A green dining room with patterned wallpaper and blinds

(Image credit: Future PLC/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.

9. Mirror a kitchen lighting scheme

A dining room looking through to kitchen with matching metal pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Serena Fokschaner)

If your dining room is off the kitchen, create a more cohesive, open-plan vibe with matching decor – and that includes the lighting. Mirror the kitchen lighting idea to welcome a seamless flow from one room to the other, transitioning the journey through from prep to serving and dining.

10. Stagger heights and sizes to make a statement

Dining room with wooden table, benches, pendant lights, fire place next to window with white shutters

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Break with the norm and add a decorative twist to the design rule of three (using the uneven number for displays, to avoid stark symmetry).

Use three lights, use the same lights even, but add interest by choosing to stagger the display, with different heights and sizes. You can of course buy lights that welcome the look, but this idea allows you to be flexible with exactly where you place each one.

11. Tone a scheme with metallics

A wooden dining table, wooden wall storage and a bronze ceiling lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Not everyone is a big fan of colour. So if you feel safer with neutral dining room ideas, 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 the wooden table and dining room storage idea for a touch of glamour that's not overbearing.

12. Captivate with a cascading cluster design

A dining area with a mustard yellow wall and gallery of photos

(Image credit: David Giles)

To create a real talking point choose a statement overhead light that is sure to start a conversation, such as this striking design with cascading lustrous glass droplets.

Not only does the cluster provide a style statement for the overall aesthetic it also adds light on many different levels to create a central focus of interest.

Be sure to position a show-stopper light in the middle of your your dining scheme to avoid it throwing the rest of the room off balance.

13. Go glam with a chandelier

White dining room with black chandelier and blue painted dresser

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Bennett)

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.

14. Pick an oversized pendant

A dining room with wooden table, chairs, cupboard and pendant light with blue floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/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. Changing a pendant shade is an easy and affordable way to change the decor. No need for an electrician for this simple job!

This idea 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 dining room wallpaper idea.

15. Cast a glow with a coloured shade

White dining area with green glass pendant light and colour coded books on bookshelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Jazz up your existing lighting solution by simply changing the shade. Swap your standard drum shade for a coloured glass or acrylic design which will add a fun element to the decor when the light is on, omitting a glow of colour to the surround ceiling and walls.

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

16. Make it personal

A retro diner light-up sign in a dining room

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Add a touch of personality to your dining room with the addition of a bespoke light-up sign. From neon signs to retro diner designs choose a light to personalise your space. Not only is it a creative dining room wall decor idea, it also helps to add a touch of illumination too.

These homeowners have chosen to light up their American retro themed dining area with a personalised light up diner sign.

17. Mix and match pattern

A rustic dining area with white wooden wall panels, a wooden table and chairs with yellow cushions and patterned pendant light

(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 a material you love. It's a surprisingly easy budget dining room idea!

18. Display fairy lights within foliage

Blue dining room with wooden table and blue fabric covered chairs. Foliage pendant light. Blue patterned wall paper. Blue curtains.

(Image credit: Future PLC/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.

What type of lighting is best for a dining room?

The type of lighting that's best for a dining room is a balanced mix, to create a lighting scheme that caters for any purpose. 'Use statement lighting to create different zones, that each have a purpose,' advises  Martin Waller, Founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab). 'Hang pendant lighting over dining areas to draw people into an inviting dining scene.'

'Layer lighting and use multiple light sources to make a room flexible and versatile. Opt for dramatic pendants as your main source of light and pair with statement table lamps to create an atmospheric mood,' Martin recommends.

'Wall lights work well as accent lighting to highlight interesting features in the room, such as art or artefacts. Choose bold pieces featuring structural shapes, interesting texture or coloured glass to make a style statement, even if the lighting is switched off.'

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.