I have a unique and strange electric set up in my home's dining room and need help! Can someone advise me on what circuits I need for my dining room because my situation is fairly unique and I haven't seen it addressed elsewhere.

I have a 1950's rambler home with a traditional dining room that opens to the living room and that shares a wall with the kitchen.

In a 1970's renovation, half the dining room floor was removed to build a new staircase going down to the basement. leaving about 6 feet for a dining table instead of the usual 9.

There is the traditional dome light in the middle of the room and 2 outlets (one on the exterior wall near the stairs and one on the kitchen/dining wall.)

In the near future I plan to remove the kitchen/dining room wall to open up the space.

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enter image description here By removing this wall it's basically making a larger kitchen, There would now only be one outlet (near the stairs -- not going to use it for a coffeemaker), and currently there is no overhead light on a 3 way switch for the stairs.

How many circuits do I need to wire for this dining room update?

  1. Can the dining room share the 15amp kitchen lighting circuit? does it require it's own?

  2. Do I need a separate 20 amp circuit for the one 'dining room' outlet near the steps, or can I just tap off the living room, or let it be part of the 2 required kitchen 20 amp receptacles?

  3. How would someone propose providing overhead light for the stairs? a separate light or have the overhead light be a track light that's switchable?

  • We need more details. Can you confirm that you are in the US? (UK sockets are 13A, German 16A, and that's at 230V). What appliances do you have in the kitchen? (In the UK, you can ran an oven off a 13A socket, but you usually need a separate circuit for an electric hob.) Dishwasher? Washing machine? Fridge/freezer? The flat I am typing this in has wired in fridge, oven, induction hob, and washing machine, and a triple socket - and that's pretty much a bare minimum in my view. Nov 20, 2018 at 21:51
  • Hi, I live in the U.S. the state of Virginia to be exact. I plan to do separate circuits: 1) fridge, 2)dishwasher, 3)garbage disposal, 4) 20amp receptacles, 5) 2nd 20 amp receptacles, 6) Microwave, 7) 15 amp kitchen lighting.
    – Jordan
    Nov 20, 2018 at 22:10
  • My concern is I want to be code compliant, but I will only have one outlet near the stairs (once I open up the kitchen wall) and I have an overhead light that really needs to be on a 3 way for the stairs rather than serving a dedicated table. What is the simplest (and US code compliant) way to wire with these issues in mind.
    – Jordan
    Nov 20, 2018 at 22:26
  • Ignoring the spacing for a moment, does the one remaining dining area outlet need a dedicated 20amp (to be code compliant) or can I simply wire it in series with the kitchen receptacles?
    – Jordan
    Nov 20, 2018 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


The outlets in the dining area should be on a 20 amp circuit. It looks yours are spaced too far apart. Today's code requires outlets to be within 6' of wall space or 12' apart (not counting the doorway). The dining outlets can be on one of the 2 required small appliance branch circuits. But the lights can not be on that circuit. You could tap the existing lighting circuit for the stairs but you do need a switch at each level This may be the toughest part of the job unless newer smart switches are used that don't have to be connected by travelers. The dining lights can be on the living room circuit or the kitchen circuit lighting circuits not the small appliance branch circuit.


Since this is a remodel of both rooms, it will require both rooms (or at least the scope of the remodel) come up to current code.

The kitchen, dining and living rooms can share a lighting circuit.

The two kitchen countertop receptacle circuits can't serve anything else. Your cook will thank you if you use more than 2 circuits (to be more precise, you'll never hear about kitchen countertop nuisance trips). Since you are adding these circuits, every point along the backside of the counter must be within 2' of a countertop receptacle.

Similarly, every point along a dining room wall and a kitchen non-work-area wall must be within 6' of a wall receptacle -- in whatever area your AHJ declares is part of the renovation. AHJ=permit issuing authority/Code inspector.

A person at the bottom of the steps or the top of the step must have a way to turn on the stairway safety lighting from each end. This is only an Code issue if the lighting has a switch. In the LED age when a 40W equivalent light bulb costs $6/year to run and will run 25 years, having safety lighting on 24x7 or day/night sensor activated makes some sense, and then you don't need switches at all. Code is not particular as to what stairway safety lighting looks like, but your inspector might be.

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