Dining Room Ideas

Here are a few dining room ideas and tips to help you create a room that speaks to you, your style and your guests.

Dining Room Table Setting Dining rooms are often overlooked and "under-dressed". With home trends promoting open floor plans and huge kitchens with vast islands for entertaining, formal dining rooms are forgotten spaces. They tend to lag behind when it comes to furniture and decor, thus developing a dated appearance when compared to the other rooms in your home.

I personally love formal dining rooms. Some people use theirs often, some people rarely. Regardless of its use, show your dining room off with style. Perhaps a simple face-lift will motivate you to host a special dinner party where you can "wow" your guests with a stunning table display. It's all about presentation and it starts with the room itself.

Your home's floorplan may dictate which direction you go when it comes to styling. If you have a formal dining area, you have more free reign to decorate as you please. If you are dealing with an open floorplan, you want to create a dining space that makes sense with the surrounding style and colors. This doesn't mean you are limited in what you can do. It just may require a bit more discretion when implementing these dining room ideas.


The Layout

Let's go with the traditional floorplan that includes a formal dining room. You want to choose a dining set that fits the room well. Dining rooms become crowded quickly due to the many additional, large wooden pieces typically added or included with sets. If possible, purchase pieces "ala carte".

Purchase your table and chairs first. It's best to take some measurements beforehand. Either take measurements in the room to determine an overall size including pulled-out chairs, or take a tape measure with you and do the same thing at the furniture store to get a sense of the scale you can accommodate. If you have a dining set already and are changing it, check the following. Is there room enough to get in and out of the chair easily without banging into a wall? Is there enough room to walk around the table if guests are seated? If you answered yes to both, then stick with this size. If not, choose a smaller set.


Dining Room Ideas and Tips

  • If you are dealing with limited space, consider choosing a round or oval table.

  • Choose armless chairs. They can be pushed in further.

  • Remove any table leaf to gain more space.

  • Always center your table if able. Symmetry and balance looks best in dining rooms regardless of design style.

  • Use a rug under the table to help define the dining area. This is especially helpful in homes with open floorplans. Try to choose a rug that is large enough to accommodate the chairs when they are pulled out for seating. At the very least, have it be large enough that the chairs sit nicely on the rug when tucked under the table and a nice perimeter of rug is viewable as a border around the set. A wonderful area rug may be the perfect inspiration piece for your dining room ideas such as color and style direction.

  • Add additional dining pieces as necessary while avoiding an overcrowded space. A nice alternative to a tall hutch or china cabinet could be a sideboard or buffet table. The lower height of these pieces provides a sense of openness in the space. Re-check the clearance between the chair backs and the additional pieces you choose.

A Dining Room Transformation


Dining Room Before and After

A dark, uninviting space becomes light and airy. Wallpaper and carpeting was removed, lighter, brighter colors were added, and a dreary fireplace got a face-lift. The original hardwood floors were reworked and finished and a sage green area rug was employed to anchor the dining set. The fireplace was probably the most expensive renovation in the space. It topped out at around $120.00 in materials. Most of these dining room ideas were reasonably cost-effective, cosmetic updates.

This particular dining room is on the smaller side. Rather than overcrowding it, I've elected to eliminate the hutch and sideboard that went with the set. I have removed the table leaves and have placed all the chairs around the table rather than flanking extras along walls. This frees up space and makes the entire table ensemble the focal point in the room.

A built-in hutch helps with storage and serving. An antique, cedar chest runs down one of the longest walls opposite the hutch to create balance. This piece is low enough to be unobtrusive, yet can function as an additional serving or staging surface if necessary.


Dining Room Ideas On Style

What style are you going for? I always like traditional and classy
when it comes to formal dining rooms as seen below.


Formal Table Setting

Antique Holmes & Edwards inlaid silverplate flatware coordinates nicely with some antique Homer-Laughlin, Eggshell Nautilus china in the Nantucket pattern, discontinued(1937-1950).

Crystal stemware passed down from my grandmother provides some added refinement.

Everything rests upon a vintage, damask tablecloth in a pale, seafoam green that matches those of the glass fireplace tiles.


Want to create this look in your home?


Dining Room Decorating Accents and Design Elements

Follow these dining room ideas and decorating strategies.

  • Choose an accent color and search for similarly colored decor. Use this accent color on a wall to build further cohesion. In this room, a sage green accent color is used on wainscoting and casually repeated through the decor and artwork. Golds and champagnes provide sophistication with the green tones.

  • Choose materials and repeat them throughout the space. Brass, salt-glazed crocks and green depression glass are utilized in this room.

  • Repeat a pattern or design motif. Botanical fern prints and subtle fleur de lis elements are seen. Gold trimming is used on picture frames and mirrors.

  • Carefully combine unique furniture pieces to create a cohesive look. Repeat wood stain finishes, or those closely related to achieve the best results. If you are concerned with mismatched pieces, choose furniture with similar styling or design elements or simply purchase a complete set.

Perhaps your home is more modern or contemporary. Choose sleek furniture. A plain styled table in black or espresso finish with some simple leather side chairs speaks of sophisticated style.

Modern Dining Room
I like the simplicity of this dining room. A nice example of "Less is More"; important in modern and minimal decorating styles.

Additional Dining Room Ideas

Gold Leaf and Crystal ChandelierLighting is important when it comes to dining rooms. A hanging light fixture or chandelier is almost a requirement in defining a formal dining area. Choose a light that coordinates with your style. The modern dining room above uses a style appropriate glass and chrome light. The more formal dining room above has a gold-leaf chandelier adorned with Austrian crystal. The light or chandelier itself suggest the style of the room. If you don't like your lighting, switch it. Dining room lighting is often dated. You can get a new dining light or chandelier for under $100.00 which will instantly update the look of your room.

Do you have a fireplace that looks like a dungeon? I did. I tiled the facade facade to tie it in with the room's new formal styling. A simple paint job could be all that is needed to really spruce up a dreary fireplace and brighten up your dining room.

Don't forget the table setting. This is the easiest way to develop a new look on a budget. Switch up the color of your linens. Placemats, napkins and tableclothes create an instant change that can be tailored to the season, holiday, event or your current styling. Get some new dishes. Mix and match to create a unique custom look. "Recycle" old sets you find, at consignment shops for instance, and work them into your collection.

Add a formal or whimsical touch to your place settings with napkin rings and place card holders. Get inventive and create your own version of napkin rings and holders. Jute twine or other leftover ribbon can tie up your napkins and old forks can be bent so that the tines stick up to hold a name card.

When it comes to mixing and matching, apply this to your dining furniture set as well. Create a relaxed, casual seating area with a plain, chunky, wooden table and various types of wooden chairs at or near the same height is best. This eclectic mix can create some shabby-chic style. Add a pop of color to the stark wooden table top with some bright, fun dishes. Not all dining experiences need to be formal.

Frugal Tip Look for random chairs at flea markets and yard sales. Look for vintage sets at estate sales. Pick pieces that will work well together. These dining room ideas and tips can save you money.

Unify random-styled chairs with gloss paint. This dining room idea is cheap and creates a casual, shabby-chic look that many people enjoy.

For additional seating, consider a bench down one or both sides of the table. This "farmhouse" look can be implemented in both casual and contemporary spaces. Look for vintage pieces and mix them carefully. Try to find a common element among your different pieces such as wood tone, finish or period styling. With the proper accessorizing you can create a really chic and classy look.

Dining Chair Seat Fabric Inspires Room Accent ColorsDon't forget your chair seat fabric. If you have worn seats, recover them. If you are updating your room with new colors, get some new, coordinating fabric. Chair seats are typically easy to reupholster. Just undo the fastening screws on the bottom, place your seat cushion on your new fabric and cut it, allowing enough slack to wrap fully around all sides of the seat. Tack or staple the fabric in place. Be sure to check that your pattern is lined up, even and centered.

It's typically easiest to attach your sides first and then the back and finally, work on the front. You may need to gather the fabric as you wrap and attach it, especially around curves of the seat. Just work slowly. If it doesn't look nice, remove the tack or staple and gather the fabric differently. Applying the new fabric directly over the existing fabric is easiest. You can also look at how the old fabric was gathered and pulled as you work. Changing your fabrics is an easy dining room idea to implement for an updated look. Don't forget your drapery.

Look to fabric for color inspiration. The fabric used on these seats provided the complete color-story direction for this dining room. No guess work.

Finally, add some "life" to the table with a floral centerpiece. Fresh-cut flowers in a crystal vase are an easy, no-fuss addition that works well with most decorating styles. For a more intimate experience, light some taper candles and enjoy!

Now put some of these dining room ideas to use
and don't forget to invite me to the dinner party.


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