Dining rooms often serve many purposes beyond simply being a place for enjoying a meal. Because modern dining rooms may serve as informal gathering spaces, temporary home offices, and even recreation rooms, contemporary dining room lighting will need to be just as flexible, thoughtfully designed to meet a variety of needs.
Know the basic types of modern dining room lighting.
Designed for general illumination, ambient lighting sets the overall mood (or ambiance) for a room, and is usually provided via a light source from above—modern pendant lights, chandeliers or modern ceiling lights—that disperses light across a large area.
Designed for specific, pinpointed illumination, task lighting can take the form of a modern table lamp with articulated arms, under-cabinet lighting, or a series of spotlights. With a narrower area range, modern task lighting adds illumination to a specific area that may otherwise be underserved by ambient lighting.
Accent lighting highlights an object or area of a dining room primarily for esthetic purposes. A piece of art, architectural details, or objects in a display cabinet, for instance, may benefit from modern accent lighting. Ideally 3 times brighter than ambient light, examples of accent lighting include track-mounted spotlights, wall-mounted art lights, or inner cabinet lighting.
A decorative light’s primary purpose is, as the name suggests, decorative, as opposed to functional. A visually striking mid century modern table lamp that’s also a family heirloom, for instance, may be defined as decorative lighting, as much a design object as lamp. Decorative lighting may be perfectly functional, but its purpose is primarily visual.
Think beyond the modern dining table.
While the modern dining table remains central to a dining space, other areas in the room will also benefit from thoughtful lighting, ultimately enhancing the entire space. Installing a range of lighting solutions for the various areas within your dining room is the best way to create a space that remains adaptable to many uses.
Because a single lighting solution or lighting fixture is unlikely to solve the various modern lighting requirements of a dining room, a lighting plan that includes several layers of light is an ideal solution. These lighting layers can be used separately or simultaneously, depending on any given specific need.
Get the Ruler Out.
As with all lighting solutions, proportion is extremely important. The size of the lighting fixture, in relation to the size of the dining table, is the difference between a well-lit and an ill-lit dining room. In general, a modern lighting fixture should allow for at least 12 inches of table space in any direction. A 4' x 6' table, for instance, should not be paired with a light fixture that measures more than 2 feet wide.
If you've chosen a linear suspension light for a long table, the fixture's length should not exceed 2/3 of the table's length. In addition, the height at which the modern lighting fixture is hung is also key. A height of at least 30 inches above the surface of the table is ideal, ensuring the light is dispersed evenly across the table, without creating a visual obstacle for even taller-than-average guests.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of dimmers in a modern dining room (or any room), irrespective of which type of lighting you select. Dimmers, particularly those for harsher lighting, like track lighting, are essential to creating a space that's both functional and nuanced. A modern lighting design that can't be adjusted is inherently devoid of adaptability and flexibility—two features that are key to a well lit room.
Our modern lighting collection offers a range of sleek and refined pendant lights, sconces and chandeliers for dining rooms, both large and small.