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Advice: Dining Room Lighting

Accent Lighting - Accent lighting can add important drama to a dining room by creating exciting visual interest. As part of the decorating scheme, accent lighting should be used to spotlight paintings, houseplants, sculpture, and other prized possessions, or to highlight the drapery or the texture of a wall. Good accent lighting can be especially helpful in a dining room to help create an especially attractive space.

Chandeliers - A chandelier is often the focal point of the dining room. As such it should be hung about 30 inches above the tabletop and should be at least 6 inches narrower than the table on each side.

Color - Think about the importance of color in the dining room, then use proper lighting to bring out that dramatic color.

Dimming Systems - Today's dimming systems enable you to do several things: lower light levels to conserve energy and increase bulb life, vary the mood of a room, and alter the intensity of the light to suit the activity. A dimming system is virtually required in the dining room to create just the right dining ambiance.

Fluorescent Lighting - Fluorescent lighting probably should not be used at all in the dining room unless it is used as a source of indirect light and even then it probably should be dimmable.

General Lighting - General lighting provides a space with overall illumination. Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting radiates a comfortable level of brightness, enabling one to see and walk about safely. In the dining room this light usually is provided by the chandelier or pendant hanging over the dining room table.

Indirect Lighting - Coves, soffits and other concealed locations can be used to provide very pleasant, very effective indirect lighting with xenon light sources or possibly T5 or T8 fluorescent fixtures.

Layers of Light - There are three basic types of lighting that work together to light a home: general lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. A good lighting plan combines all three types to light an area, according to function and style.

Low Voltage Halogen Lighting - Low-voltage halogen lighting offers a very white, crisp kind of light source that has excellent color rendering capabilities and often makes crystal, cut glass, polished surfaces, and jewelry "sparkle". If you do employ low-voltage halogen lighting in the dining room, you should consider using SoLux® MR16 lamps which provide "the closest thing to natural daylight".

Pendants - In general, pendants should be hung about 30 inches above the tabletop and be about 12 inches narrower that the table on all sides.

Cabinet Lighting - Cabinet lighting should be mounted closer to the cabinet front - not near the back of the cabinet. This allows the light to easily illuminate the object below.

Wall Grazing - Wall grazing provides dramatic illumination that reveals the texture of special materials, such as the brick and stone used in fireplaces. Wall grazing is uneven, brighter and scalloped at the top of the wall. For the most exciting effects, use PAR lamps in small aperture down-lights. Locate the down-lights no more than 12 inches from the wall and the same distance apart. Wall grazing also lights polished surfaces, such as marble without distracting reflections in the surface.

Wall Washing - Wall washers are special down-lights that direct light up to the top of the wall. They eliminate the shadows, sometimes called "scallops", which are characteristic of simple down-lights. Do no space wall washers more than 36 inches apart. For the smoothest effect, space wall washers 24 inches from the wall and 24 inches apart. Avoid locating wall washers near doors where they can glare into the eyes of people entering the room.