Dining Room Design Ideas
The best dining rooms accommodate everyday meals and special occasions with ease and style. Learn how to make sure your dining room is designed to impress, whatever the occasion.
Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures, and the dining room is where it all comes together. The best dining room furniture accommodates many occasions—from a simple family meal to a grand celebration—so it’s key to design your dining room with style, function, and flexibility in mind. Then, when the next special occasion arises, you’ll be ready for the best evening ever. Keep reading for a few expert tips on designing a dining room you’ll love.
Dining Room Design Inspiration
Like any other room in the house, when shopping for dining room furniture, it’s important to consider your style, including the overall style of your home as well as what you have in mind for the room. There are no shortage of dining room furniture options out there, but dining rooms actually have relatively few furniture pieces in them (usually a dining table, set of chairs, and sideboard/buffet), so whatever you choose can have a great impact on the style of the space. Do you want something sleek? Something with intricate details? Something with a sense of history? A little of both. Consider all the options and be guided by your instinct.
Consider Existing Pieces
If you have existing dining room pieces you plan to keep, consider how they should be balanced. If you’ve inherited a modern dining table, but are after a transitional look, more traditional dining chairs may be the best fit. Consider not only stylistic balance but how you can balance the materials of existing pieces with other finishes.
Be Realistic About How You'll Use It
One of the most important considerations for your dining room is how you and your family will use the space. If it will be a multi-use space where you work, do projects, or your kids do projects, it may be subject to a lot of wear and tear; If that’s the case, you should select a dining table with a durable or easy to maintain surface.
Choose Your Dining Table & Chairs
When shopping for dining room furniture, you should always plan for guests. If space allows, purchase a dining table that seats at least two or three more guests than your family size—the more, the merrier! Purchase an extension dining table with leaves to provide flexibility for extra guests on holidays. Folding chairs are also great to have for those who entertain; they can be tucked away in a closet off-season.
Embrace Continuity or Separation
If your family is back and forth between the kitchen and dining room, as many naturally are, embracing continuity between the spaces is always a good idea. The two rooms don’t have to be decorated as if they were one, but using a general style in both or carrying over a color from one to the other will help to visually connect them. If you want them to feel like distinct, separate spaces, use different color schemes and furniture styles.
Optimize For Function
You should certainly think about how your dining room will accommodate Thanksgiving dinner, but first and foremost, make sure it’s set up to serve the most common everyday use cases. When is your dining room most often used? At breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Is there easy access to the kitchen? And a place, such as a sideboard or buffet where you can easily ferry food, cutlery, and dishes? Buffets, bars and cabinets can be great for serving, as well as great storage solutions. Be sure to consider not only how your dining room looks but how you will use it. If you set the room up for success, it could become one of the most popular rooms in the house.
Off-Duty Dining Room Style
If you don’t use your dining room for meals everyday, but the room is still in view, think about how you can give it “off-duty” style. An oversize bowl or orchid planter are easy accents that can give the space polish. We also love a dining room stacked with coffee table books—it’s like a mini library where you can escape every now and then.
Space Planning Tips for Your Dining Room
Once you’ve considered all of the above, it’s time to plan the layout of your dining room. Here are a few of our standby space planning tips.
Begin planning your dining room layout by arranging the dining table and chairs first. Then, fill the room with related furniture like a buffet or sideboard, and secondary pieces like extra chairs or a small bar or wine cabinet. When selecting dining furniture, make sure it’s in scale with the rest of the room; it should not take up the entire spaces.
If you’re deciding between round and rectangular spaces, notes that round tables are great for tight spaces while square or rectangular tables are better suited for larger dining rooms. A pedestal-base table allows for more flexible seating than a table with legs—it’s also great for those with long legs!
To match or not to match? While a matched table and chairs gives a cohesive look, mixing contemporary with antique styles—or pairing a wooden table with slipcovered, wicker, painted or leather chairs—will add some personal flair. Don’t ever feel like you have to buy a dining room set off the showroom floor; sometimes mixing collections can also look chic. And when it comes to seating options, remember that benches can be a modern way to create a mismatched yet streamlined look.