Everyone has their favourite restaurant. That one place where you can feel relaxed and indulged on a special occasion or after a stressful week at work. Have you ever wondered what makes that place so special? Aside from delicious food and wonderful service, it’s décor and most of all – lighting.
While we are all getting used to dining at home more often these days, nothing should stand in the way of achieving a fine dining-in experience. See our top tips for using lighting to create that warm, intimate atmosphere in your dining room.
1. Use warm-coloured, low-intensity lighting
Think about the most romantic restaurant you’ve ever been to. If it felt warm and inviting, it was because of warm-coloured, low-intensity lighting. Lamps, pendants and wall lights in upscale restaurants give off a cosy, gentle glow similar to a candle flame. Now think about any fast food chain restaurant. It feels cold and VERY bright.
In quick-service restaurants, they use bright, cool light to overstimulate guests and increase customer turnover during rush hours. On the other hand, upscale restaurants use low, warm lighting to create a relaxing atmosphere – perfect for ordering that extra glass of wine or a dessert.
What atmosphere would you like to recreate at your home? Probably not the fast food one…
For a warm, inviting atmosphere in your dining room, use light bulbs in warm temperature of 2200 – 2700K. We recommend using 2700K bulbs (warm white) to illuminate the table, and 2200K bulbs (orange candle-like glow) for other sources of light in the room. This way your dining area will feel warm and relaxing, inviting you to spend more time with your loved ones.
See our superior LED light bulbs to create a cosy and inviting dining room atmosphere.
2. Focus on the table
We often hang our ceiling lights too high above the dining table. This makes for a good general light in the room, but it can make the space look a bit flat and dull. You should aim to focus lighting on the table – that’s one of the most important areas to light at your home.
To achieve the best effect, hang your ceiling light lower than usual – around 32-36 inches above the table (unless your ceilings are very high). The light should be above your head while sitting down, and slightly above eye level while standing. This allows for everyone to see each other at the table, and leaves plenty of room for a beautiful flower vase.
Make sure to place the chandelier or pendant in the centre of a table – you want to illuminate the table, not the people. Overhead light is not the most flattering and it makes people feel intimidated (also, we tend to look our best when our face is lit from the sides). You want your guests to feel relaxed while being able to see everything clearly. And if you use spotlights – make sure they have a narrow beam angle that will illuminate the table directly. The only thing that should be in direct spotlight during dinner time is the delicious food you’ve prepared.
3. Go big and bold
Dining room and kitchen island are one of the best areas to add a bit of drama to your home with lighting. Lighting there hangs relatively low in order to demarcate the area, so it instantly becomes a focal point in the room. Use this chance to express your style and dare to be a little different with big, bold lighting.
Use a modern chandelier in your favourite colour or in unusual shape, or go big with a vintage crystal chandelier for a traditional, opulent look – it’s entirely up to you and the personality of your home.
4. Hang twin light fixtures
If your dining table is long and rectangular, it is best to use more than one pendant to light it. It’s also a wonderful way to demarcate a dining area in an open plan space.
How many pendants or chandeliers should you hang over a dining table?
There is a common misconception that we should always hang 3 lights fixtures above the dining table. We believe it’s a rule that can definitely be broken! Using a pair of twin lights creates balance and grounds the space within your dining area. Hanging two pendants or chandeliers looks beyond great and shows you are a true designer – an original thinker, someone who dares to experiment with finding their own style.
5. Add wall lights and lamps to set the mood
This statement Moroccan brass lantern in Ellen Pompeo’s LA home is complemented by two wall sconces and a lamp on a side table to create more cosy glow. Image source
Table lamps are one of the best ways to add joyful colours to a dining room. Image source
Classic vintage wall sconces can be an interesting addition to both traditional and contemporary interiors. Image source
While lighting the table well is the main goal of a dining room design, you also need other sources of light to create ambience. Lighting from the sides creates cosiness and that relaxing, intimate atmosphere. It’s also a great way to decorate your dining area and use lighting as art.
Place a sculptural table lamp on a console table, and add some wall lights to the room – they don’t need to match! Go for unique, original pieces that will create a romantic atmosphere and become a part of your art collection.
6. Candles are always a good idea
Romantic dinners are a specialty of the French bistro La Poule au Pot in London. Image source
“The dining room is my theatre.” Designer Francis Sultana decorates his table with black candles for a masculine, geometric edge. Image source
Mix and match candleholders to fit the personality of your home. Image source
Finally, add some candles to enhance the warm, relaxing atmosphere. For best result, use traditional dinner candlesticks as they will create a sophisticated, elegant atmosphere. And if you’re feeling creative, choose unique, handmade artisan candleholders. You can place them in the middle of a table or around the room – on a mantle or a console table.
Dining in is the new dining out, and this Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to pay some extra attention to your dining area. You can make it feel and look even better than your favourite restaurant. After all, there’s no place like home!