The importance of the dining room in the holidays can be seen in what’s in demand at Accent Lighting, the store’s Pat Graf said.
“We sell probably more crystal chandeliers this time of year because of that – they’re fixing up the dining room,” Graf said of his customers.
While crystal is perennially popular for chandeliers, fixtures with clean and straighter lines – Graf describes it as “the Pottery Barn look” – are starting to elbow in, he said.
“We have been doing more contemporary – we even opened a new room for that” in the past couple of months, Graf said. Chandeliers ensconced in drum shades, clear glass bubbles taking the place of crystal pendants, Old World fixtures whose bulbs fit into candles of real wax, sheer panels of crystals – the selection is dizzying and bright.
Rules of thumb• The size of a fixture: 2 inches per foot of room; 12 inches smaller than your table. If you have a 12-by-12 or 12-by-10 room, the fixture should be about 24 inches in diameter. If your table is 40 inches wide, 28 inches is the maximum width for your fixture, “or people stand up and bump their head,” Graf said.
• How high above the table: 64 inches off the floor. That’s the industry standard. “I personally think it’s a bit high,” Graf said, but it does leave room for tall centerpieces on the table if that’s your thing. “It depends on the shape and size of the fixture, too.”
Other dining-room lights
Depending on the type of bulbs you use in a chandelier, they may not provide enough light in a dining room. In that case, recessed lighting can make a big difference, Graf said. For example, Graf has a real-wax-candle chandelier in his dining room, so he can’t use a high-watt bulb or it would melt the wax.
Sconces are another option, if the dining room is big enough, Graf said. “Some dining rooms are not that large, so it’s hard to squeeze in some sconces. In larger dining rooms in new homes we’re doing sconces, and in existing homes not as much.” Some chandeliers come with matching sconces.
Background lighting also can be had by lighting the china hutch, Graf said. “It used to be a small recessed light in them. These days they’re doing a lot of LED strips in them.”
For almost all lighting, Graf recommends a dimmer. “You’ve always got to dim it for the mood.” Plus it saves energy and extends the life of lightbulbs, he said.
“Dimmers for the most part are not expensive, and you get a lot of bang for your buck with a dimmer.”