Dining Room Brilliance | Lighting

Mentor Kati Curtis, Principal of Nirmada, shows how there  are many approaches to lighting the dining room>>

THE lighting question I’m always asked is, “How high do I hang my chandelier over the dining table?”  The simple answer I give is 30” above the table. But it’s not really that simple – as we address every room differently depending on the design objectives we’re trying to achieve.

Of course it depends on the light fixture itself and the shape and type of table, but everything else going on around it must be considered as well.  A good rule of thumb (that’s meant to be broken) is to hang round fixtures over round tables, and rectangular fixtures over rectangular tables. But what else is happening in the room, and what do you want to emphasize?

Here are some ways we’ve approached the chandelier-

In this New York Dining Room, we have a long, glass, rectangular table we’ve placed three crystal pendants from Eurofase above to light the table evenly and add some sparkle. The room is open to 360 degree views of Central Park, so it was imperative that whatever was hung over the table not distract from the view, but allow guests to see each other at night.

This Dining Room in Boston breaks the rules of proportion with three large copper pendants by Tom Dixon staggered over a small round table. The effect is that of a custom chandelier, by grouping pendant fixtures to add impact, reflection and drama to the small room.

Here in Manhattan, we often design Dining “Areas” rather than separate rooms. Hanging a statement rectangular fixture like this one from Michael McHale over a rectangular table helps to distinguish the Dining Area from the rest of the open space.

But Dining Room lighting doesn’t stop at the fixtures above the table. Ambient lighting also needs to be addressed.  The possibilities here are endless, but downlighting if placed appropriately, and on dimmers, can add even, overall lighting without compromising the ambience of the room. On the other hand, too much overhead lighting can sterilize the space and give it a commercial feel.

Wall sconces and picture lighting can also add ambience, and highlight artwork or a special wall finish.

Make sure each fixture in your Dining Room has a purpose and adds beauty and you will have a successful lighting scheme. It always helps to work with a professional who has knowledge and experience about the infinite types of fixtures available today and how to use them appropriately.

Nirmada, author of this feature, is a Interior Design firm in New York City. Kati would love to talk to you about designing a space expressly for you.

You can also find a full list of all our global mentors [ who are top professional interior designers ] on our Mentors Page.

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