How to Light a Dining Room

In most family homes the dining room has experienced a major transformation. In Victorian and Edwardian Villas, dining was designed to take place in a separate room where every meal was modelled on a gentrified lifestyle. These days things have become more informal and multi-functional and tables are utilised for varied tasks including hobbies and homework. Contemporary house builds have seemingly abandoned all formality and incorporated dining as an activity in an open living space or within a kitchen area.

When it comes to dining, lighting needs to be flexible to cater for these various activities. In many ways, the designer faces their greatest challenge. Essentially, each lit ‘scene’ needs to be planned out meticulously. These days you can opt for smart home controls, however, for lower budgets a simple dimming system is recommended if not essential in these multi-use spaces.



Design Tips

Build layersas always, so elements of the lighting scheme can be adapted to suit the scene.

Use a strong focal point – decorative lamp over the table to delineate the space and encourage people to gather around it. Support the pendant light with downlights over the table surface to provide task lighting for other functions like daytime meals.


Remember, glass pendants or chandeliers often do not provide much light; supplementary lighting will give them sparkle and bring them to life.

It is a good idea to Illuminate perimeter walls and surfaces. This provides a background ambient light to support the table top lighting and creates interest.


From the outset in the planning stage ensure the provision of separate lighting circuitsto modulate scenes. In this way, an ambient candle like light (wired in) can provide an independently controlled ambience. Additionally, you can factor in candlelight as part of a dinner party scene. The most flattering light comes from candlelight and plenty of candles on the table will make everyone look attractive.

A good tip is to Illuminate curtains, they look sorry for themselves at night when unlit! On a dimmable circuit, a colour washed curtain can appear like a tapestry, reflecting colour back into the space and providing another aspect of interest.

You can create magical effects by lighting the outsideso it creates a scene through a window at night to provide interest and to extend the space into the garden. It also breaks up the black coldness of a darkened window pane.

The kitchen diner set up just means we have a larger space to sculpt lighting wise to suit the application and there are often many useful reflective surfaces to utilise.  Add some up lighters, either on the wall or from the floor, to freshen the ceiling and bounce diffused light which acts as a good background illumination. Don’t forget table and counter top lights are a great addition and an easy way to provide a middle layer of light especially flexible when wired into their own 5amp circuit.

For decorative pendant ideas visit our other website, particularly the Visual Comfort range.

Andrew Orange, the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.