9 Best Recessed Lighting Ideas For Your Dining Room

Recessed lights are a fantastic way to brighten up any space. Your dining room is a place that brings people together, and the lighting ideas below will create the ambiance for a lovely time with your friends and family.

1. Create Ambient Lighting Throughout The Space

Ambient lighting, also called general lighting, is when you place lighting in your home that illuminates the entire room evenly. Your dining room is perfect for a glow that brightens the whole area, and recessed lighting does the trick while keeping a modern look and feel.

The bigger your dining room is, the more lights you’ll need. You’ll need multiple recessed lights placed evenly around the dining area, so the room gets evenly lit.

recessed ambient lighting in dining room

The best size of recessed lights for ambient lighting is 6 inches, and the spacing between recessed lights for ambient lighting should be half the height of your room, meaning if the ceiling height is 8 feet, then you should space each one 4 feet apart. 

2. Task Light The Dining Room Table

Task lighting is a recessed light specialty! Task lighting illuminates specific working zones by directing light straight onto the focus area. This lighting will ensure you don’t have to strain your eyes while looking at your food or chatting across the table with a friend or family member.

kitchen with dining table and recessed lights

Task lighting can make a statement in your dining room by having recessed lights that brighten the dining room table. You’ll want to use small recessed lights, either 3 or 4 inches in diameter, placed in a row, lengthwise over your dining room table. Three lights to create an even lighting scheme is best.

3. Wall Washing With Recessed Lights

If your dining room is situated in an area with surrounding walls, you can enjoy the benefits of wall washing. Recessed lights are fantastic for this type of lighting and will make your dining room appear grander. If you have pretty wallpaper or a large artwork, wall washing is an excellent go-to for a design that will wow your dinner guests.

recessed lights used for wall washing around dining table

Wall washing is achieved by placing recessed lights at a certain angle and distance facing the wall, which illuminates it, making the room appear larger while highlighting the wall’s features. You can place the lights, so they beam onto the wall evenly or space them at regular intervals to create a pattern.

4. Make Use Of Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to accentuate certain features like architectural features or artwork. Recessed lights are your best bet if you have design elements to show off in the dining room. Like wall washing, you’ll need to place the recessed light to face the wall at an angle to highlight the desired feature.

dining room with background accent lighting

You’ll want to use an eyeball or angled trim to achieve accent lighting. The best recessed light size to accentuate certain features would be a 2,3, or 4-inch diameter. Accent lighting differs from wall washing because you’ll only use one or two lights to emphasize aspects instead of lighting up the entire wall.

5. Pair Recessed Lights With Pendant Lighting

Recessed lights might be a little too plain for your taste, but you can still use them to provide ambient lighting and add some spice by combining them with pendant lights. This lighting idea allows the best of both worlds in terms of design and ample illumination.

recessed lights and pendant lights paired in dining kitchen

To get this pairing right, you’ll want to place one to three pendant lights above your dining room table and then add ambient lighting around the rest of the dining room with recessed lights, avoiding the area where the pendant lights get placed. You can also wire these lights to switch the recessed and pendant lights on and off separately so you can set the mood.

6. Layer Lighting With Recessed Lights

Layered lighting entails using multiple light sources for different kinds of lighting. The three types of lighting include ambient, task, and accent lighting. Recessed lights work for all three, but to get the layered lighting right, you’ll want to use different types.

Your layered lighting dining room setup could include a chandelier above your dining room table, recessed lighting surrounding the room to create general light, and picture lights facing your artwork. You’ll want to have separate light switches for each type of lighting.

dining room with layered lighting

Lumens is the measurement of light brightness, and to ensure you don’t over-illuminate your dining room, you’ll want a maximum of 20 lumens per square foot of general space and 30 lumens for raised surfaces.

7. Play Around With Bulb Colors

Recessed lighting ideas include the color of your light bulb. Light has a major impact on the mood of your dining room, so you’ll want to choose the right color temperature to suit your dinner-time ambiance.

Light can either be a warm orange or a cold blue. Warm light is easier on the eyes and creates a happier ambiance, while cool light helps you see better, which is why cool light is best for task lighting. The color temperature gets measured in Kelvins (k); the higher the Kelvins, the cooler the light. A median color is 3000k, which is warm white.

8. Add Dimmers To Your Recessed Lights

Dimmers are a wonderful feature for many reasons, and adding them to your dining room is a terrific idea. Dimmers will help you set the mood from a warm candle-lit room to a lavishly illuminated one. Sometimes people prefer less light, and a dimmer will help in those cases.

Dimmers also help you save electricity when the light is put on low and will help the light bulbs last longer. Dimmers aren’t expensive and easy to install; therefore, it is 100% worthwhile to add them to your dining room recessed lights.

9. Make A Statement With Decorative Trims

Most recessed lights have a trim that remains camouflaged since it is flush with the ceiling, but if you feel that a plain trim is boring, you’ll definitely find some decorative options that add an extra design flair worth the extra few dollars. If decorative trims aren’t your thing, you can also choose trims with different colors, such as gold or bronze.