Contemporary Dinner Lighting
Because darkness is falling earlier these days, let’s talk about certain slants of lighting (with apologies to Emily Dickinson). I’m thinking of ways to brighten the dining area in time for the family gatherings that are just around the corner. The variety in contemporary pendant lamps, for example, is vast. Here’s a sampling. The 7- by 11-inch “Aura”
by Resolute from Surrounding Lighting, with its amber-hued whirl shape made from printed polycarbonate plastic, takes a compact fluorescent bulb and would suit a dining alcove. The “Moare”
mesh-covered drum-within-a-drum design from ylighting comes in small, medium, and large sizes (up to 24.8 inch-diameter by 24 inch-high). It uses an incandescent bulb. The free form WillyDilly
pendant by Ingo Maurer from Stardust Lighting uses stiffened card and plastic, takes a halogen bulb, and is put together by the purchaser. These more dramatic pendants would suit larger spaces.
A more eclectic though still contemporary approach would be to mix a traditional fixture with modern furnishings, as illustrated here
by two “Jamison” chandeliers from Rejuvenation. Some classic reproductions of early chandeliers, like this one from
Conant Metal & Light, are contemporary in their simplicity. A friend has an antique candle chandelier on a rope and pulley so that it can be lowered and lit and then raised to the appropriate height — this might be the perfect solution for adding romance and a sense of history to your evening meal. Another friend scoured junk stores for old electric chandeliers, rewired several, and strung them up on pulleys in the trees around the house for his daughter’s wedding reception. Now that was a magical evening!
As you browse pendant possibilities think about the kind of light you want and balance that with projected energy use: fixtures designed for compact fluorescent bulbs remain an important eco-friendly alternative to typical incandescent lights, though even more efficient LED (light emitting diode) fixtures are developing fast.
If you want your light to be on the table itself — with old fashioned candle power — check out these intensely colorful glass votives
from GlassyBaby. They come in a great many nature-based hues. A recent GlassyBaby blog post
even matches a range of votives to a collection of fall leaves.
Candle holders are another way to go. The classic shoemaker’s candle stand
from Shaker Workshops, is ingeniously adjustable (up and down) thanks to the screw pole at the center. The spare functional design gives it a contemporary look. Or consider a modern candelabra
such as this solid chrome example by Design Mango from Dutch by Design. I like the contrast between the minimalist base and the slightly wavery candles…it’s ultra-sleek and Shaker-simple at the same time.
So now that you have the lighting, what about the room? An open layout means the dining table is all the more important as a place to dine, work, play games, and relax. Thus flexible lighting — often complementing fixed downlights in the ceiling — is important. In this compact row house, Plan 469-2
the table is under the stair, which creates a feeling of intimacy so a small adjustable pendant would work well. For a more open area, either directly in front of the kitchen island, as in Plan436-1
or off to one side in a corner of the great room, as in Plan 466-3, below
a more expansive and dramatic sculptural fixture would create a focal point to define the dining area within the larger space. For more dining area ideas browse our Thanksgiving Kitchens Collection.
As you explore Houseplans.com, think about how your ideal dining area will function at different times of day and try to imagine it in daylight and illumined at night. With the right lighting you should be able to create a variety of moods to match different occasions.