Today’s dining rooms reflect consumer’s changing lifestyles. Once used solely for daily dining, this room has become more multipurpose. During the week, we use the dining room as a work zone, for homework, crafts, and organizational meetings. On the weekends and special occasions, it becomes a gathering place for parties and meals. The result? Dining rooms must boast multiple lighting options that can go from functional to fashionable in the flip of a switch.
To get the best balance of illumination in the dining room, opt for layers of light. The most important thing a homeowner should recognize is that a dining room will look under lit if the only light source is a chandelier. A chandelier that is bright enough to illuminate a room will be too bright for comfort when dining. Likewise, if the chandelier’s light is comfortable on the eyes, it will be too dim and look flat.
When choosing dining room lighting, start with a chandelier in the middle of the room and then work out with accent lights. The chandelier will determine the room’s feeling. Use your imagination. In today’s more eclectic decor, even casual homes can have elegant dining rooms. You might find casual wrought iron or brushed steel metal fixtures in the home’s adjacent “great room” and wrought iron with crystal drops or pendants in the dining room, creating a more romantic, softer setting. That’s perfectly acceptable.
When selecting a chandelier, don’t worry about the fixture’s quality of light as much as its beauty and scale. Chandelier choices include everything from those with exposed bulbs to those with large alabaster diffusing bowls. The fixture’s finish is the most important factor today as it should complement the surrounding furnishings and accessories; not necessarily match or contrast the decor. The finish selected will also determine the material. Popular materials include brass, aluminum, wrought iron, other metal combinations, or composite materials. Crystal chandeliers are one of the most traditional ways to compliment a dining room setting. Crystal chandeliers work to create a magical look — even when they are not turned on.
To find the right size chandelier, choose one with a diameter 12” less than width of table. This assumes the table is sized appropriate for room. The bottom of chandelier should hang 30” above table. For ceilings nine feet or higher, consider a two-tier style chandelier to fill the space from the fixture’s top to the ceiling. It is better to go bigger than to end up with a chandelier that is too small. If you are making the investment, you want to make a statement.
Accent lights, either recessed or track-mounted, can add a festive sparkle to china, crystal, and centerpiece arrangements. Space the accent lights so they are not over the head of diners, but not so close to the chandelier to create shadows. Angle them toward the chandelier to add sparkle to the chandelier and provide down lighting. The final layer of light should fill in the shadows around the room’s perimeter. Consider recessed lights located in the ceiling toward the corners of the room. Wall washers, recessed or mounted on tracks, can illuminate drapes or paintings. Torchieres and sconces point light toward the ceiling.
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