Ideally, the dining room should be a convivial gathering place for family and friends, with a lovely warm glow cast on your favorite faces. One of the best ways to ensure this is with proper lighting. From on-trend filament bulbs to solutions for spaces without overhead fixtures, here are 12 ideas for using lighting to create a space that’s ideal for cozy gatherings.
1. Swing-arm sconce. A swing-arm sconce designed to extend over the table (like the one shown here) is an unexpected alternative to the traditional chandelier, and can work even for renters if you choose a plug-in version. Because the bulb is exposed, you’ll need to use a lower-watt filament bulb to create that lovely soft glow. But because one low-watt bulb is not enough to light a room on its own, it is necessary to supplement with additional lighting — try a second sconce, or a pair of lamps atop a credenza.
2. Filament chandelier. Filament bulbs have risen in popularity with good reason — they exude charm and cast a beautifully warm glow. Single filament bulbs are typically available only in 40 to 60 watts, but using a chandelier with many exposed filament bulbs is a wonderful way to get all the charm and the light you need.
3. Smoky glass chandelier. Smoky glass paired with filament bulbs creates a one-two ambience punch that is ideal for intimate dinner parties. In the dining space shown here, the sculptural chandelier is complemented by a smooth walnut dining table and midcentury teak chairs.
4. Massive paper lantern. Suspended over the table like a full moon, the paper lantern is on a grand scale, making this dining space so impressive. And while an authentic Noguchi paper lantern is stunning, there are paper lanterns available at all prices and in all sizes.
5. Moroccan metal orb. This type of metal pendant light features punched pin-dot holes that create patterns on the walls when illuminated at night. This style of light can give off less light than a typical fixture, so you should plan to supplement with a few small lamps around the room — or just light plenty of candles.
6. Drum pendant. Simple and elegant, the drum pendant works beautifully with just about any decor style. Look for a shade with a screen across the bottom, as shown here. Itwill filter the light so your guests won’t be staring at a bare bulb.
7. Ambience booster: twinkle lights. White string lights are not just for the holidays — draped across a window frame or over a mirror, they can bring that extra little bit of sparkle that makes an event memorable.
8. DIY idea: basketry. If you’re having trouble finding just the right light fixture, consider creating your own. The one shown here was made from a woven garden cloche, but nearly any lightweight basket can be transformed into a hanging light with a simple cord kit. Just be sure that no material touches the lightbulb, to avoid a fire hazard. If you’re not sure, hire a pro to put it together for you.
9. Pendants in a row. If your dining table is quite long, it can be more interesting (and more cost-effective) to hang a row of small pendant lights rather than splurging on one huge chandelier. Go with two, three or four lights in a row. Make them all identical or each a little different, like the pendants shown here, which are made of repurposed scrap cardboard.
10. Floor lamp. If your space has no overhead light fixture, and you don’t want to or cannot add one, proper lighting can be a real challenge. One smart solution is to seek out a really large floor lamp and place it in the corner near the table. An adjustable or arced floor lamp is the best choice, because it allows you to direct more of the light over the table instead of having it pool in the corner. Unless your space is very compact, you’ll want to add one or two other light sources (table lamps or plug-in sconces) to round out the scheme.
11. Chandelier with a twist. If you love the look of a traditional crystal chandelier but crave something more modern, consider a chandelier made from an uncommon material, like the repurposed wineglasses shown here. Other updates on the chandelier to consider: handblown colored glass, recycled glass and upcycled silverware.
12. Sculptural wood veneer fixture. Choosing a wood light fixture is a wonderful way to warm up the dining room. One with an organic shape, like the chandelier shown here, is especially inviting. Because of the opacity of wood, plan to supplement your overhead fixture with additional light sources for evening gatherings.