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Carson Ceiling Mounted Residential Light Fixture in White by Steel Lighting Co.
How to Use Steel Lighting for Formal Dining

The dining room is an understood space in the modern home. While some still practice the idea of having a “family dinner” at the dining table, it seems that fewer and fewer homes still use the dining room.

In part, the rise of “open-plan” living styles and evolving attitudes to food as an event have meant the dining room has been left in a sort of limbo – caught in the conflict between the lifestyles of different generations. As a result, more and more newly built homes seemingly do away with the dining room entirely. So naturally, finding good guides for dining room decor and lighting has become increasingly difficult. 

Of course, all of this doesn’t seem to take into account the many homes around the country that still use dining rooms and spaces. We’d argue that the dining room is still one of the most essential rooms in the house for entertaining and socializing unless your idea of spending time with friends is mutual TV watching. 

This blog is about making the most of your steel lighting for formal dining. While we might be just a little biased, we believe that barn-style steel lighting is the obvious choice. If you have a dining room of your own and you’re looking to make the best dining experience possible, then keep reading.

Table Service

First off, let’s get the lighting design basics for the dining room out of the way. Doing this will make creating that perfect atmosphere much more manageable, so it’s worth learning. 

Grab a tape measure and make a few notes. First, you’re going to want to know where the center of your room is. This will help immensely, making it easier to understand where to place your dining table and any other dining furniture. 

Second, you’re going to want to figure out how much space there is between the ceiling and the dining table surface. This helps a lot by making your choice of steel light easier to judge. Too large of a light, and you might have an overhanging fixture that makes it hard for diners to communicate comfortably. Too small, and you might have a light source that doesn’t sufficiently light your dining area. 

Suppose you’re wondering what the “goldilocks zone” is for a steel ceiling light fixture. In that case, we’re happy to report that, generally speaking, you want your ceiling light to hang approximately 70cm – 80cm (27-31 inches) above the surface of your table. 

Lighting Degustation

The Rose Bowl Ceiling Mounted Dining Room Light Fixture in White by Steel Lighting Co

Another vital principle of steel lighting for formal dining is how the light sources play with each other. The worst thing you could do is create a space with conflicting or competing lights. Thankfully, there is an easy way to classify light sources based on the “layer” of light they occupy. These layers are as follows: 

Ambient Lighting, which provides a base layer of visible light to any area.  

Accent Lighting, which provides light meant to enhance a space thematically or artistically. 

Task Lighting is a focused form of lighting designed to simplify complex tasks by providing a better vision of the job. 

While many rooms will often only need one or two of these layers, the dining room uniquely requires all three. 

First, ambient lighting is desirable as a base layer to make the room comfortably visible. Second, task lighting is handy for side tables and drinks tables, making it more straightforward to grab crockery and make the right cocktail. Finally, accent lighting is an ideal solution to most pendant lighting solutions, with innovative ideas contributing to the sense of occasion a dining room is meant to convey.

The Main Course

When choosing the perfect fixture for the ceiling, the decision is often a straightforward affair. Generally speaking, a dining room is defined by its use of a pendant light. Therefore, we’d argue that a steel barn-style pendant light for the ceiling is the only way to viably illuminate your dining table, being able to mix multiple areas of functionality and style into a single package. 

As previously mentioned, the ideal height for steel lighting for formal dining is approximately 70-80cm from the surface of your dining table. This provides enough space for the light to not be in your way while allowing it to be close enough to illuminate your desired dining surface fully. In essence, the pendant light needs to fulfill the functions of both an accent light and a task light, so the selection of the right design is crucial. 

Steel barn-style fixtures, such as our Carson and Rose Bowl designs, are great examples of everything a dining room pendant light should aspire to. The Carson packs a big punch in terms of illumination, pushing out a fantastic cone of light that can easily cover most 6-10 seat dining tables. However, for a more intimate touch, the Rose Bowl is more suitable, with a narrower head that allows the design to excel in tighter spaces.  

Steel Lighting À la Carte

Highland Park Wall Mounted Light Fixture by Steel Lighting Co.

While we’ve spoken a lot about the need for ceiling fixtures, wall fixtures are equally welcome in any dining room, though using them does have a difficulty curve. So while the need for a ceiling light in the dining room is obvious, wall lights occupy many different roles. 

Regardless of what you have planned, the ideal position for any steel wall light fixture is approximately 1.5 – 1.6 meters (or between 5 – 5.5ft) above the floor. This allows any wall fixture to shine a light on any table surface directly below or adjacent to its position. However, every home is different; while the rules for ceiling lights are usually fairly consistent, wall lights are much more adversely affected by ceiling height and lighting style. 

A great example of a “catch-all” steel light fixture for the wall is our Highland Park wall light. This light carries all of the ruggedness of steel farmhouse-style fixtures while also having some mid-century flair as well. It’s a fun combination that makes the Highland Park seem effortlessly cool and perfect for any formal occasion. When combined with our goose-neck arm, the Highland Park is fantastic for every kind of dining room experience. 

If you’d like to know more about how steel lighting can improve your dining experience, then contact our team at Steel Lighting Co., our friendly group of experts would be more than happy to give some advice and recommendations on what kind of steel barn light can best suit your needs.