Dining Room Ideas: 29 Designer-Approved Spaces For Decorating Inspiration

Whether you have a dedicated room or you’ve carved out a corner of your open floor plan, these dining room ideas are likely to fuel a design refresh. Here, you’ll find tips for both exciting enhancements as well as full transformations, including insights on dining room tables, chairs, lighting fixtures, and wall art. First, we’ve answered your most pressing questions, then gathered a slew of ogle-worthy inspiration. So pull your finest dinnerware from the recesses of your cabinet, prepare the place cards, and fire off a round of invitations. You just might be hosting a dinner party or two in the near future.

What looks good in a dining room?

A table and seating are arguably the only required pieces for a dining room (and see below for what could constitute a table). From there, additional decor depends on the room’s style. For a modern dining room, wall art and a striking centerpiece might be a top priority. Or, for a farmhouse dining room, a hutch or sideboard to display vintage glassware or French pottery could be key. Designer Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Design in Gainesville, Georgia, says, “Comfortable chairs are a must! And a buffet or chest for a pair of lamps and a mirror is icing on the cake.” She’s also a fan of an area rug underfoot. As for dining room lighting, a chandelier is always a glam option, “but I also love the addition of sconces and small can lights over each end of the table too,” adds Griffin. “All on dimmers, of course!”

What can I use instead of a dining table?

While a round, wood table is classic, other options are available. Says Teresa Manns of Teresa Manns Design in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, “I love a stone-topped table, particularly with a striking pattern. I’ve also commissioned a long table made from reclaimed beams that were sanded smooth and beautifully stained.” Other table design ideas include a repurposed library table with benches, a reclaimed door, as well as tabletops made of quartzite, marble, or enameled metal.

How do you build a perfect dining room?

Dining room design begins with understanding the space’s function to the fullest, says Amy Kartheiser of the Chicago-based Amy Kartheiser Design. “When I start designing a dining room, I want to first get a feel for how my clients will utilize the space—and we get specific. I want to hear about what weeknight dinners look like, if they ever eat at the kitchen island, how often they entertain, and how many people they frequently host,” she says.

How do I make the most of a small dining room?

It’s important to remember that not every dining room must accommodate a banquet table and 12–18 guests. For a small space, a round table with four chairs and a fabulous light fixture might do the trick—especially in an open floor plan. Designer Holly Hunt of House of Hunt in Chicago says, “Formal dining rooms are becoming less popular, as people are craving more casual spaces. An open floor plan can be just as elegant, but offers more of a communal feel.”

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