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The New Dining Room Lighting Trend We’re VERY Into (That Also Happens to Be Renter-Friendly)

image via apartment 34 | design by tom mark henry

Here’s a quick snapshot of how most “trend” conversations happen here at EHD:

Someone: “I’ve been seeing a lot of [insert trend here] lately…how do we feel about this?”

Someone else (or several someone elses): “YES love it, totally a trend” OR “Ugh no, please no. Veto.” 

Likely me (Arlyn) or Emily: “Wait, is this a post?” 

And today is the result of this general interaction, except this time, it happened on Instagram between Julie (from our design team) and me. We tend to do this thing where we’ll DM each other at random pretty rooms or cool things to consider either for life or projects, and last week, she kept sending me photos of long arm sconces in dining rooms that took the place of a chandelier. What I didn’t know at the time is that Julie and Emily had been in talks of possibly swapping out the light fixture that’s currently in the mountain house dining room (Emily talks about why here) and they both loved this idea stylistically.

South Yarra Mirror Apartment Designed By Golden Melbourne Australia D990395fe214f55f17c6dbe9d9fb954a0
image via design. / visual | design by golden

While, design-wise, it’s definitely a detail we’ve been seeing more and more (but also, maybe I’m just seeing it so much because I started looking for it and you know…algorithms and whatnot), I probably first noticed the whole design sconce thing in European or Australian home design. It’s definitely a more contemporary move but the more I thought about it, the more I also considered skipping the ceiling fixture entirely would straight up solve some people’s problems. Let’s say you live in a space with incredibly high ceilings (I’m crying for you, truly I am). Hanging a chandelier or pendant is certainly possible, but depending on the cord situation, you’re pretty limited on the light you can use, not to mention a very tricky installation. Also, if you’re in a home or rental apartment with very little overhead lighting and installing a junction box above a dining table isn’t an option, enter the oversize dining sconce. And because there are plenty of plug-in options, it’s a no-brainer that requires zero permanent decisions the way a hard install does.

image via entrance

The key is to get something that has a very long arm that can extend out from the wall over the table (even if it’s not dead center over the surface). This light shown above (and over and over again below because evidently, this is the preeminent “sconce over dining table” light fixture) is the 265 Wall Lamp by Paolo Rizzatto for Flos (#3 in the roundup below…a less expensive version, depending on how you feel about that, is #18). It’s an awesome option if your wall is at least 80 inches away (that’s how long the arm is) and it has a considerable swing to it to get the head of the light exactly where you want it.

image via reform

The one thing I do wonder about this one, in particular, is how the light actually looks when it’s ON. It would be fairly direct and not the least bit diffused, so it likely would not be very flattering sadly. I don’t know…does anyone actually have a version of this light and can verify whether this is true or not? I’m just so, so curious.

image via suite ny

I dig this bad boy in the chrome. A finish like this (i.e. not matte black) is less intrusive and while it’s certainly not invisible, it lets the furniture be the star. Granted, that marble pedestal table and mix-and-match wood-toned chairs deserve the spotlight. If the furnishings were far more subtle and subdued, the black could really sing and bring tons of visual interest to the vignette.

This is, of course, not the only overscale pendant on the market (even though Pinterest would make me think otherwise). There are a few different varieties and categories, but I’m going to break down the three most popular/common: the hardwired swing-arm oversized sconce, the plug-in sconce. and the multi-arm sconce.

The Swing-Arm Sconce

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image via anniversary | design by katarina rulinskaya

I’m not privy to information about who makes this wonderfully cool lamp, sadly but man is it cool. It kind of has that laid-back vibe of a plug-in with the long cord (wait…maybe it IS a plug-in…it’s honestly very hard to tell in this photo), but the post-modern-esque aesthetic keeps it firmly in high-end edgy territory.

Arent Pyke Bronte House 14@2x
image and design via arent & pyke

The brass here in a dining nook from Arent & Pyke (probably one of my favorite design firms right now, FYI) feels somewhat playful and less serious that the last photo. I also like the functionality of this sconce because it’s adjustable both outward and side to side. A pivoting swing arm will give you the most flexibility in placement.

image via context gallery

Man do I love the slightly ridiculous scale (but in the best way possible) of the Lampe de Marseille by Le Corbusier. Something like this would really cut through the severity of dark, moody oil portraits, which, in this room, really balances the more modern glass and steel dining table. 

Screen Shot 2019 07 30 At 4.34.19 Pm
image and design via disc interiors

Here’s something I noticed: a lot of designers were using the long-arm sconce in a smaller dining area or breakfast nook. I think it’s a nice, less risky way to do this. Plus, the table in this type of situation is typically much closer to the wall, so you have more light fixture options to play with than you would a table that’s in the center of a room. Also, in a corner like this, you don’t normally have a junction box, but you might have a wall electric hookup already for a traditional sconce and this is a playful unexpected way to bring some style gravitas to a “less important” area of the home.

image via vogue living | design by framework studio

One glance up and it’s clear why this was the only solution for lighting in this space. After all, you can’t hang a chandelier from a glass ceiling.

The Plug-In

Screen Shot 2019 07 30 At 4.35.53 Pm
image and design by disc interiors

I’ve had a crush on this particular sconce (by Muller van Severen) for the better half of a year and the best part about it is that it’s a plug-in! The little wall brackets make it feel very…thought out. It comes in a few different shapes, too (like the arch from #8 in the roundup below) and honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

image via scandinavia standard

I know a lot of people take issue with exposed bulbs, and you only ever see them in a sun-lit room where obviously, they aren’t in use, but I think something like this would be great with a frosted bulb so the light is better diffused.

Crane Light6
image via ylighting

I wanted to show you this photo because even if you think you don’t have the wall space for the sconce placement, you’d be wrong! Just make sure the plate that you have to attach is slim and slender like this one by Andrew Neyer which would fit in the tiniest of spaces between window moldings. Also, note the silver-tipped bulb. That’s another solution to improve the light quality of an exposed bulb, FYI. Even if the fixture itself doesn’t come with something like this, you can buy them online (Schoolhouse actually has a great selection of nice, elevated looking bulbs).

image via raw design blog

This is another more “statement-making” option of oversized sconces and it works particularly well for around a dining area because you can slide the light up and down depending on whether you have a traditional table or more of a high-top counter-height thing going on.

The Multi-Arm Sconce

image via kinfolk

I consider the multi-arm oversized dining sconce the senior-thesis level fixture. Like, you’ve been around the dining room sconce block and you’re ready to get bolder, braver. This thing makes a statement (particularly the gargantuan 4-arm version made popular by Serge Mouille, above). Something like this does two things: it just looks cool (to me), but it also distributes light more evenly around the room.

Now, I know all of those long-arm sconces you saw in those rooms looked EXPENSIVE, and honestly, they probably were. But because I wouldn’t want you to leave this post with only inspiration that you couldn’t act on without some serious design funds to spend, I dug around and found some options at much lower price points (as well as some splurge-y ones) that could work in everything from a petite breakfast nook to a full-blown formal dining room.

Emily Henderson Long Arm Wall Sconces Roundup

1. Mojave Lamp  | 2. Mid-Century Overarching Wall Sconce | 3. 265 Wall Lamp by Paolo Rizzatto | 4. Mantis Swivel Wall Sconce Brass | 5. Curvilinear Mid-Century Sconce Double West Elm | 6. Lampe Gras Model 214 Wall Lamp by Bernard-Albin Gras | 7. Crane Wall Light Lumens | 8. Muller Van Severan Floor Lamp | 9. Mussla Two Arm Wall Lamp | 10. Jones Single Sconce | 11. Potence Style Otis Light | 12. Cylinder Task Double Arm Wall Light | 13. Pelle Sconce, Long Gooseneck | 14. Leighton Adjustable Wall Sconce, Bronze | 15. Orbiter II Wall Lamp in Polished Nickel | 16. Retro Rotating Wall Sconce Two Arms | 17. Waldorf Wall – Large | 18. Stilnovo Gåsgränd Wall Lamp

Alright, now it’s time to hear from you. While you might have had an internal commentary running in your mind the whole time you were reading (scrolling?) through, let’s have it. Is this something you’d try at home? Or are you more comfortable in the traditional overhead dining chandelier or pendant? Here’s the best news: there’s no wrong answer! I’m particularly drawn to this look because it strips away the formality of a dining room, but I also get that some people actually want a dining room to be formal and “grown up.” Anyhow, enough from me, let’s have it from you.


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62 thoughts on “The New Dining Room Lighting Trend We’re VERY Into (That Also Happens to Be Renter-Friendly)

  1. Hi Arlyn,
    This is such a great, timely article for me – I came to the same conclusion when I was trying to fit some sort of pendant / chandelier in my dining nook. That beautiful swing-arm sconce in the sixth picture (designed by Katarina Rulinskaya) is a Marset Ginger, and yes, it does come in a plug in. (I first saw the pendant version here, and have been stalking it ever since.) Thanks for all the other beautiful options, but… I think my heart has already been won.

    1. Oh good to know! Yes it’s just so so beautiful. That perfect mix of modern and vintage looking.

  2. What happened to Mountain House Monday? Just because you say it once doesn’t make it so. Oh where is Emily of old? With beautiful rooms, colorful and livable and just plain pretty?

    1. Oh don’t you love those who haven’t had their morning coffee?!

      Why I love Mountain House Monday’s, this is a great post! I can’t say I’ve seen this as a trend, but I’m certainly inspired by the lovely images. Thanks Arlyn!

    2. You’re consuming free content, it just seems odd to me that you and others find it logical to complain. I mean, it’s not like you’re paying $99/year for access to this content and not getting what you ‘paid for.’ It’s such an odd time to live in where an audience demands specific content and timelines from content creators.

    3. Agree – really miss the Emily of long long ago. So much “content” back then without appearing to try so hard.

    4. We struggled to come up with what ‘mountain house monday’ would be for today and honestly it would have been a post just to be a post, but without being able to reveal too much trust me you would have been disappointed. REMEMBER – MOUNTAIN WEEK IS NEXT WEEK!!! Starting monday 8/12 we’ll reveal every. single. room. So stay tuned. And ‘old emily is still here’ 🙂 in fact she turns 40 in a month so she’s even older 🙂 (its me, not sure why i’m talking in 3rd person).

      1. I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean it to come off as complaining and harsh so I truly apologize. I’ve been following you since Design Star every day without fail. I look forward to seeing Mountain House so much and looking back I guess it did sound kind of snarky. I truly didn’t mean it that way. And I do love some of the old “you’s”. However you are growing and changing and that’s what being a creative means. No matter the changes you are still terrific. Please accept my apology! I can hardly wait until we get to see it all!

  3. I like it but don’t think it would fit stylistically in my home. Although I like it enough that I’m now trying to think of a place it might work!

  4. Stylistically these look very cool, practically one lightbulb over a dining table is not enough light.

    1. Yeah I definitely wonder that. Though I do prefer more dimly lit dinners in the dining room (I have a chandelier that has pretty soft lighting, but also have might brighter sconces to bring in more light should I need it for working, etc.)

      1. I confess to being a (somewhat unpractical) romantic who prefers to have her dinner in the dark with only candle light even when alone (and yes I can still see my food, dad). So I’m loving this ‘trent’ because I only use my dining room light if I’m doing some kind of work at the table like writing an essay, sewing, or reading something and I often find my dining table light a little too dim and undirectional for that – so thanks for the inspiration I might jump on this bandwagon! 🙂

        1. Yay! And yeah, I def use my dining room far more for “activities” than for eating formally and a task light would be quite nice (particularly for sewing).

  5. I’ve thought about trying this in our breakfast nook! I love the look, but I’ve hesitated because it would block the pathway around the table on that wall. It seems like traditional issues of scale are kind of out the window with this trend, so I suppose I could mount one high enough to where people could walk underneath. Not sure how that would look, though…

  6. Pretty much every dining room pictured above looks to me like it could have been in Diane Keaton’s New York apartment in Baby Boom. I’m going to guess that the vast majority of the current EHD staff has never seen this movie and possibly was not even alive when it was made. Oh dear, I feel so old now!

    1. This would be an interesting post: great movie interiors! I’m sure it’s been done before on some site or other. However, the EHD staff could each talk about their fave movie interior and ask readers to name theirs.

          1. Hitchcock interiors. I could live in the penthouse in Rope which is very art moderne. I also could live in the sets for To Catch a Thief (french provencal); Dial M for Murder (classic London flat); and Rear Window (classic New York apartment).

            And Disney’s set for the original Parent Trap California ranch house, I still want that house.

            I would take any of them as is right this minute. That’s classic style.

            And there is a website that does this.

  7. They are very cool and architectural but in the end task lighting doesn’t create the ambiance that I like over the dining room table. I guess candles could help.

  8. Why are you guys inside my head? Not that I’m complaining! I’m in a rental and have always found the light over our table to be severely lacking and have mulled over doing something like this. Thanks for the round up of options that include plug ins!

  9. I thought I’d be a “no” on this, but I’m actually a “yesss!” Thanks, as always, for helping me learn.

  10. As cool as this may seem…no
    This will never be as awesome as just the right chandelier
    And never give you the multiple light options and moods that a chandelier/great pendant can give you

  11. I have a friend who did this in her vacation home due to a very high ceiling. I thought it was a great solution and I love all of your picks! Thank you!

  12. Over a smaller table I like it, but over a big dining room table maybe not. I remember first seeing these types of sconces several years ago and really wanting one in my apt at that time. I saw that Ikea had one and planned to get it, but when I found it in the store it was super dinky–cute, but really small. So it was a no. I often wonder if there would be a way to DIY this kind of fixture, maybe retrofit a lamp….I’m interested in cheap, creative options 🙂

    1. I agree – like them over a small table but not so much a large DR table. And I bet a diy would be totally doable and pretty easy. Some conduit, a light kit, cool fasteners and you’d be set. Now, I’ve never actually made a light but this truly seems possible.

  13. I agree that these seem best suited to a breakfast nook, where you are using it mostly during daylight and might just want supplemental lighting to read the Sunday times. So many of these look like task lighting, and definitely insufficient for those tables that seat 20. They certainly look nice, though, and are appealing for renters.

  14. This is an awesome idea! We just moved into a new rental where the light above the table isn’t centered correctly in the room and makes everything look lopsided, this could be an awesome option!


  15. These are beautiful when not in use (as a light rather than only as a decorative object). Show me the room in the dark with the light on. I’ve worked hard my whole life, scrimped, and saved, so that I DON”T have to sit at a table with one bare light bulb overhead. The majority of these would have inadequate or glaring light when in actual use. Especially considering that in many cases, no other lighting seems to be present in the room. And many of them also seem to be obvious head-bonkers. Anything for a trend, though! I appreciate your finding new looks. I just wouldn’t use one unless it worked for me. (Me, always preaching about functionality.)

    1. Heh. I didn’t see your post before adding mine, and I used the “head-bonk” phrase, too!

  16. My internal commentary went to my childhood. The 4 bulb with amber glass, corner standing, lamp my parents had in their home. The idea was there. These sleek skinny cantilever models are fresh and make a perplexing statement. I really like numbers 16 and 12, because of the iconic retro statement they give me. And as you said more than one can help diffuse light in the room.

  17. This is crazy, because I was just looking at buying #4 (the mantis sconce from CB2) for my dining room this weekend. I live in a small apartment and so my dining room does double duty as a office/desk space. So, a sconce like that would be really helpful to provide task lighting, and when I’m not using it, can be swiveled out of the way. Thanks for the inspiration and the round up!

  18. I have to add to my earlier comments. These are great when used in the right situation. These are pretty much all task lights, as others have pointed out. Good for reading or lighting up a corner of a room. For those uses, I love them.

  19. I jumped on this last year for my living room as reading lights but found the light to just be too harsh. I loved the way they looked tho…

  20. This is a very timely article! I am seriously considering something like this in our dining nook in the living room. The overhead lighting in the room is just too far from the table, so I think it would make for a nice additional option. Plus, it makes a statement!

  21. I’m a yes! And actually did this in my house in 2014 – I have a swing arm sconce over my kitchen peninsula because of the vaulted ceiling pendants weren’t an option. And I’m in a renovated MCM so the Serge Mouille style was perfect!

  22. Love it, but my things r very traditional. If I was younger I could really get into these new styles. They r great.

  23. i LOVE the way this looks. But, I’m the one who would hit my head on it 100% of the time getting in and out of the table. there’s a few that are high enough that wouldn’t happen, but the prettiest ones are definitely a bump hazard. LOL I think this trend might need to go in the “pretty not practical” column.

    1. Nah I def thought about that, too, though I think it really depends on how and where you’re using it. Some of these corner sets up work particularly well, I think, for “head bonking” haha.

  24. This is the lighting solution I recently arrived at for my dining nook. I’m in apartment so my dining area is fairly small. And while I own, my ceilings are made of concrete so the thought of dealing with that sounded terrible. But I have plenty of wall space and an outlet right there, so I went with this option from Article:, which seemed to be the right length for me, plus a great shape.

  25. I guess I just don’t get it. They all look awkward to me. And the lower height and drooping cords look like a head-bonking, tripping hazard to me.

  26. So interesting and such a great alternative to ceiling lighting. I love these they are so cool!

  27. With the exception of the swing arm sconce, most of these emote an invasive ‘big-brother-ish’ vibe over the human living space. At best, they evoke a press corps invasive camera/boom mic straining to visually and auditorially capture every blessed twitch. At worst, it has the look and feel of Alexa on steroids. Which perhaps is apropos of these times, both from a political as well as technological standpoint. Why does ‘good lighting’ have to go there?

  28. I love this trend for apartment dwellers and small dining nooks. What a perfect alternative for those of us that have tricky/hybrid dining spaces! But, the task lamp shape just doesn’t work for me. They look like weird heating lamps for my food and would totally kill the evening mood. I would definitely go for a larger shade options or the ones with multiple arms. Fun post!

  29. Hey guys you’ve really got me thinking! I’m in the process of remodeling an 1810 farmhouse and the dining room is going to be where the original hand hewn beams are in the ceiling. Unfortunately, nothing can be wrapped around the beams. If we Sheetrock in between we may get recessed lighting in. But these swing arm sconces are def giving my brain a little more to think about! I’m planning on the wall that is a foundation wall (in the bank aka no windows) being a gallery wall of art and I think one of these could very well be on that wall and aimed at the dining table!! Thank you so much for this inspiration, best blog around by far! Feel free to follow my home makeover @themagpiefarm

    1. Oh yeah! I think the long arm sconce coming from the gallery wall would be VERY cool. Do it!!

  30. Would they not also need to be telescopic so that it could be adjusted, not just from the wall and out over the table, but so that the table can be close to the wall or further out into the room?

  31. Definitely been thinking of trying this already, thank you for the round up! I have a basement man cave we are trying to furnish and there will be a spot to put one by the huge sofa that has to be tight up to the window and then above a table not too far from the sofa area, it may be fun to do two of these but would I need them to match?

    1. They can def match if you want a clean symmetrical look, but they can also be mix and match as long as they still somehow speak to each other. Maybe the metals are similar, or if not, the silhouette (like, you don’t want something super chunky and traditional, and then something sleek and modern).

  32. My feeling, except for the super elegant minimal solutions, was that this was SO reminiscent of my art school days where you would move that swing arm lamp wherever it was needed which is way too practical then the relaxing I’d like to do while eating. So, perfect for a corner small table eating nook, unless you got me that fantastic multi arm solution that could bounce the light. That one I LOVE!

    1. This is actually the original goal of Corbusiers version… to light a students room in the different areas where needed.

  33. I did have a conversation going on in my head, how did you know? I love these sconces. But, for me, they feel more at home in a living room, bedroom, or den.

  34. I think lighting is a jewel in the room, and I particularly like the gaudy jewel of an over-sized chandelier or pendant over the dining table. The traditional placement appeals to me, while the larger size feels modern.

    So most of these wall lamps posing as petite chandeliers don’t do it for me. I look at them and think the light will be too bright, too direct, and too painful for this migraineur. But I love the Serge Mouille chandelier and the way that each light can be turned to give you the precise amount of light that you want.

  35. I have had the flos 265 above our coffee table for about four years now. (I was lucky enough to find it used for half price!).

    Lighting wise, I really like it there because I can put the head of the lamp down far enough so that we don’t have to see the bulb. I appreciate the flexibility of being able to move the lamp head. We have used it overhead to light up one end of a long table but it’s probably not the best for that…
    My husband does sometimes swing it up and down again to get around it.

    1. Whoops I just read your comment to the poster above with the same question!

      I really, really look forward to Mountain House Mondays! I can’t wait until next Monday’s massive reveal, but I have to admit that I’ll be sad once they’re finished. What’s your next big project? 🙂 🙂 🙂

  36. I just love the pairing of Industrial and Rustic styles in these photo’s. I just love some of the variances in design here. As a furniture designer I am constantly looking for inspiration and I found that here.

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