How to Light a LONG table: Save money by hanging two fixtures

There are lots of dining room light fixtures out there for standard-sized dining tables, but once you get over 84 inches the chandelier options become really expensive.

If you have a long dining room table, 120 inches or 140 inches, or an extendable table finding one light fixture to hang over the center of the table can be a pricy endeavor, see RH. The standard formulas for chandelier size for larger tables don’t work. They don’t make dining room lights that are that large unless they cost +$3k.

There is another option – hang two fixtures. I had a reader ask about a light for a 120-inch table. She said that she couldn’t get two fixtures because the ceiling was wired for only one fixture. It might sound counterintuitive, but you can actually save money by purchasing two smaller fixtures.

An easy way around this problem is to add an additional lightbox (or two and closing up one). It is a pretty inexpensive project for an electrician. Both lights are installed on the same switch. It’s definitely a lot less expensive than the thousands extra you will pay for the oversized fixtures.

If you think two fixtures can’t have the same dramatic impact as one giant fixture, take a look at these examples.

  • The first one is from Pottery Barn. The Franklin Pendants look perfect over this large table if you have a minimalist design style and like modern dining room lighting. Each of these pendant lights is $399, but they look in proportion over this large table.
  • This is an example of a long table with two Flora rattan pendants.
  • Another example with large rattan pendants from Crate and Barrel.
  • This is a more traditional example of an Aerin Jacquline Chandeliers with lots of crystals.

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When Two Lights Are Better Than One

If you have a large table there are a few reasons to go the two-light route.

  1. More Light – Two lights can be placed on either side. This spreads the light out more evenly over the length of the table. Your dinner guests can see what they’re eating better.
  2. Less Money – Smaller chandeliers or pendants are less expensive than oversized ones, even after you pay for the electrician.
  3. Makes a Statement – Two lights over a dining table are a focal point and a great way to make a dramatic statement. You can make a statement with lights in every style from modern chandeliers to boho, or minimalist. You can opt for a more traditional look with a crystal chandelier or candle chandeliers or have fun with the shape of your fixtures. In addition to the shape of the chandelier, you can use different metal finishes or find fixtures that complement your paint colors or your design style in the rest of your home.

How Big Should A Table Be Before You Use Two Fixtures?

You can use two fixtures even on smaller tables like 60 inches if you use pendants. It’s similar to lighting a kitchen island. If you like the look of two fixtures, you can use two.

How Does Spacing for Two Fixtures Work?

If you are going to hang two fixtures above your table, as a general rule this is how they should be positioned:

  1. The first thing to do is measure the dining table. Divide the table in half and hang the first fixture in the middle of the right half, at least one foot to the right of center. Hang the second lighting fixture in the center of the left half, at least one foot away from center.
  2. The fixtures should have at least 2 feet between them.
  3. The fixtures should be 6 to 12 inches from the end of the table.
  4. The bottom of the fixture should be 30-34 inches above the table top.

What If Your One Chandelier Feels Too Small?

Most really large tables come with extension leaves. If you feel you don’t have the correct size chandelier, don’t keep your table set with all the leaves installed in your dining space. Stash the extra leaves out of sight.

If you have all the dining chairs try placing the extra chairs on either side of a window, or your hutch or china cabinet. You can also store the chairs in a spare room.

If neither of these options works for you and you are absolutely convinced that your light is too small, find two fixtures you LOVE. Wait for a sale and call up your electrician and ask them about the cost of adding two light boxes and removing one.

If you have a long dining table with two fixtures, will you send me a photo? I like to be able to share examples with readers.  

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