I often find that an easy way to add punch and wow factor to a dining room is by installing a pendant light over the table. This is where you can add instant style, even if you are renting your property: minimum work required for maximum impact.
A pendant light will visually zone the dining area by highlighting it from the ceiling. I know that a rug nicely frames the dining area but as I mentioned before, I am not a massive fan of rugs under the dining table (mainly for hygiene reasons and the rug always ending getting caught in the chair each time you move). A rug grounds an area but when you look at a space, you look at it in a 3D view, like a cube. The different levels of lines within that cube actually define the various zones within a space. And this is why a ceiling light helps outline an area, adds interest and beautifully fills all that negative space between the furniture and the ceiling. Think of it as a big exclamation mark or down arrow over the space you want to highlight!
As per rugs, scale matters when it comes to pendant light. If you are lucky enough to have high ceilings, this is the best way to emphasize the height by drawing the eyes up to a large fabulous-looking light fixture. Similarly, if you have a big dining table, the light should be in proportion and more on the larger side wherever possible (though not wider than the table).
And if your dining table cannot be centred below the ceiling light point, an easy trick is to buy a light with a long cord and a hook to fix directly in the ceiling to re-centre it where you want to (or ask your electrician to rewire the pendant light with a long cord).
How low you hang the pendant light is a question of preference however, again, err on the lower side for maximum effect. A rule I have been using is for a 245cm-high ceiling, hang the light 85 cm from the table top. If your ceiling is higher, add 2.5cm for each 30cm of ceiling height. So, if you have a 400cm-high ceiling, you can hang your light 97cm from the table top.
There are thousands of amazing pendant lights on the market. It depends if you see it as an investment piece that you will take from house to house or a fixture just for the purpose of this particular house and space. I love Arturo Alvarez lighting: they are simple, whimsical and go with almost any interior style (arturo-alvarez.com).
You can go for classics, whether mid-century (check out hay.dk, andtradition.com) or more contemporary ones (flos.com, ochre.net, bocci.ca). These are timeless (though more expensive) pieces that will bring you happiness for a very long time!
And then, for smaller projects (but still packed with style), I would advise to check out fun options at Westwingnow.ch, laredoute.ch, ambientedirect.ch.
Layers, layers, layers…
One last point on layering the lighting in the dining room. Like in any room, you want to create a warm, cosy atmosphere in the evening and this is not going to happen if your table is lit up like Wembley arena from one single ceiling point. So, if you have the space, I would advise to layer the lighting by adding either a floor lamp in a corner or a table lamp on a console or sideboard nearby, or even wall sconces for a more dramatic effect in the evening. If this not an option, then go for dimmers for the pendant light if you can. This way you can have brighter lighting when working on your dining table and soft ambient lighting when entertaining guests for dinner. Perfect. Have fun!