Looking for dining room ideas that will work no matter what size space you are dealing with? Whether you're getting out the special crockery to entertain friends or prefer informal but cozy family meals, a well-decorated dining room design is a great upgrade to your home.
A modern dining room may not have the grandeur of years gone by. Really, we just mean any space where you can place your dining set and eat in peace. But that is not to say it shouldn't feel special.
Even if you don't have the space for a dedicated 'room', maybe you want to squeeze a small dining space into an open-plan area, such as a kitchen/living space?
Tom St. Quintin, dining buyer, Furniture Village, says: 'Whether you have just enough room for a breakfast bar table or space for an elegant, statement piece, the dining table is the room's focal point and will help determine the overall scheme.'
'For those looking to craft a casual setting, a mixture of chairs and benches will make the space feel more relaxed or for a more sophisticated edge, opt for a set with upholstered seats for a stylish, luxurious touch.'
We've rounded up all of our favorite dining room ideas to get you inspired to choose a style so that you can make the most of your space.
1. Transform your space with simple updates
Sometimes it’s the simple things like dining table ideas that make all the difference…
Becki Owens, interior designer and lifestyle influencer, Becki Owens Living, says: ‘To refresh your dining room this year, consider updating your table, chairs, or lighting. These three elements individually or collectively can easily transform your space.’
Becki recommends the following pieces from her home furnishings line to give you some inspiration:
2. Choose an extendable dining table to host the most
If you’re a keen socialite and love hosting parties, then an extendable dining table should be your priority to cater for everything from everyday dining to holiday feasts, and all in between.
Andrew Gaugler, founder and interior designer, Best of Machinery, says: ‘An extended rectangular dining table for six to eight persons is ideal for your dining room to host those lavish dinners or day-to-day family dinners.'
'I recommend a dark brown wooden table with soft brown or creamy nude base chairs. To complement the interior, set up a stylish table with bright-colored table mats and a centerpiece. For the centerpiece, anything from a floral vase to candle stands works best.’
3. Choose upholstered dining chairs for luxe comfort
Gone are the days of frightfully formal dining with ‘sit-up-straight,’ hard and unwelcoming furniture (well perhaps with the exception of the occasional Pretty Woman business dinner scenario!) Instead relax the situation, revamp rustic dining room ideas, and serve-up culinary sensations with a side of luxe comfort courtesy of lounge-and-laugh-in style seating.
Farah Merhi, style expert, Designer Looks' Furniture, says: ‘Beyond the table, I love opting for larger upholstered chairs rather than standard dining room chairs or benches. While this may take up a bit more space than your standard chair, it makes each and every guest feel extra comfortable and showcases your table in a more occasional light.'
'My personal favorite to pair with the Charthouse table is the Charthouse Host Chair with curved back legs, nailhead trim, and padded arms.’
‘Then, for the tablescape and room itself, decorating with glitz and glam is my go-to – mixing different elements of gold and silver like candlesticks, vases, and wall art makes for a stunning, beautiful, and formal set!’
4. Create a unique space with neon lighting
Get the table talk in a whirlwind and the atmosphere buzzing with an attention-seeking neon sign feature, that gives your modern dining space a fashionable bistro-style twist! You could even save big bucks by making your own DIY neon LED rope sign.
Jess Munday, co-founder, Custom Neon, says: ‘Your dining room is where memories can be made. Just think of all the birthdays and holidays spent eating around the family dining table, with lots of conversation and laughter.'
'You can make this space more memorable with a unique neon sign! Whether it’s your family name in neon lights or a fun quote that will get everyone talking, there are many ways to brighten up your dining room with a customized neon sign.’
5. Max-out a small dining space with trendy banquette seating
In cozy and compact dining spaces, banquettes offer a timeless and stylish small dining room idea to add extra seating. And If you're feeling like a spot of weekend DIY, learn how to build a banquette or bench for your space with this simple step-by-step tutorial by blogger and DIYer Brooke Waite.
Emily Mackie, founder, Inspired Interiors, comments about this bright salmon-colored dining room banquette: ‘Dining rooms sometimes are super small; this elongated banquette on the wall certainly turned this dining room for four into a dining room for easily seven or eight guests.’
6. Or open up the space with mirrors
Bring in large mirrors to bounce the light and open up a small space with scheme-enhancing effects. We love the reflective shimmer and shine elements that mirror ideas lend for a simple but glam dining room update.
Mackie continues: ‘Another dining room idea is to have large mirrors to see each other talk in the dining room area as you dine. Here are pretty navy dining room chairs and you can add pops of color; you can see candlelight sparkling and large-scale florals through the mirrors.’
7. Curate artwork on walls for impact
Breathe a sense of life, energy, and personality into your dining room walls with unique pieces of art that transform a blank space into a curated wall of beauty.
Helen Armon-Jones, founder of The Art Buyer, says: ‘For me, art isn’t just the ‘finishing touch’ in a home. Art can really help to define the feel of a space and be really transformative. As well as complementing a design scheme, it can also be the starting point for interior design, with the scheme taking its cues from the colors of a piece of art.'
'It brings character, charm, and personality to a home, something that is so important and really allows you to make any living space your own. It’s even more important in the case of new builds and modern homes, as it transforms them from feeling cold and clinical to warm, lived-in, and truly inspiring spaces. I feel no home is complete without art.’
‘Helping the eyes to travel around space, allows us to appreciate corners and create little scenes within the home. It can add a wow factor to a dining room and be used to bring the outside in, a clever trick I like to use when sourcing art for rooms that look out into the garden for instance. It also offers a wonderful way to preserve memories, be them of a favorite holiday, place, or time and spark conversations with family, friends, and anyone visiting your home.’
Have a peek at gallery wall ideas for further wall-transforming ideas.
8. Hang a statement pendant light over your dining table
Each room in your home serves a different purpose, and the lighting choices should reflect that. From mood lighting in an intimate living room space to task lighting over a dining table, choosing the right dining room lighting ideas will affect how your space looks and feels.
Niki Wright, founder, lights&lamps, says: ‘Dimmable lighting is essential to create atmosphere. A ceiling light that can highlight the table without shining on everyone’s faces is also ideal. We are currently designing a small pendant that has a focused/spot downlight that is still diffused and still within a softer more decorative form – ideal for a cluster over a round table or in a line above a long table.’
9. Make a visual statement with a punchy rug
Introduce brightness, pattern, and texture underfoot, and under the table with a hero rug to divide your dining area, and add visual interest. (You could always steal some inspo from our living room rug ideas to get you started.)
Gladys Connelly, housekeeping technical writer and home improvement blogger, The HouseWire, says: ‘In a dining area, a rug under a chair can serve as a visual anchor. A rug helps to identify the eating space & separate this from the entire room, especially in an open concept.’
10. Create a layer of interest on walls with paneling
Paneling is a simple and effective traditional dining room idea to add a layer to your space. Often used to create the illusion of a bigger space, placing paneling against a feature wall elongates and accentuates the room.
And the good news is that a DIY board and batten wall is so simple to copy. Discover our step-by-step tutorial for fitting a siding and paneling style.
Justyna Korczynska, senior designer, Crown, says: ‘If your room lacks any architectural wall features, you can add a simple wall paneling for a high impact feature wall. The highlights and shadows created by the paneling will add another level to your feature color creating a very bold statement wall.’
‘Paneling will add character and reflect a period style that is emphasized when hit with light. As the sun moves throughout the day shadows and textures will be created from the reflection of the sun. Paneling looks great when color-matched to form a drenched wall.’
‘Combining paneling and bold colors with texture in the furniture adds depth and can draw attention to the feature furniture within the room.’
11. Control the light with shutter window treatments
If you’re looking for a window treatment idea and modern alternative to traditional drapes, consider super smart (and low maintenance) window shutters – and they have energy-efficient properties to boot too - win, win!
Learn how to choose shutters, and set the right ambiance depending on the dining occasion with a light-filtering design. Go bright and breezy and max out natural daylight for relaxed weekend brunches, or get moody and intimate, and let the candlelight do the wafting for soirées.
Lisa Slack, head of product, Thomas Sanderson, says: ‘Shutters are a great addition to the dining room too as they ensure plenty of light is let in to open the space.’
Coordinate the finish of your shutters with your overall scheme for a cohesive look, or make a stand-out statement with a bright, color finish contrast.
12. Work with what you have to create a ‘French connection’
For the formal dining room in this mega-unit condo renovation in downtown Austin, Texas, PROjECT. anchored the space with a dining table from Provence in France (part of the client’s existing collection).
‘Working in an edited mix of the owners’ antiques was paramount,’ says Wertepny. ‘But we wanted to give them new life. So, for example, we took a set of antique French Louis XIII-style chairs and chopped them down, and then reupholstered them in cream linen. And for the two head chairs, we added leather trim for mad drama. This is a great example of working with what the client already has and elevating the dining space from there.’
13. Create a light and airy space
White dining rooms don't have to be bland and boring. This design provides the perfect inspiration for a bright and light scheme.
Oshri Adri and Jillian Dahlman of Adri + Dahlman Interiors, say: 'Being the main eating area for a family with children, we designed this dining space to be extremely practical.'
'The white oval table has a lacquered finish that is impervious to stains and can be easily wiped down. We sourced chairs that did not have fabric, which makes them easy to clean. We wanted to warm up the modern kitchen adjacent to this space so we chose wooden chairs that tied into the butcher block on the kitchen island.'
'The serene art series was chosen to infuse color into the neutral space but in a more muted way. Since all the design elements in this space were light and airy, we wanted the light fixture to contrast and pop. We chose a contemporary fixture in black to do just that.'
14. Introduce sophisticated color accents
Introduce rich color contrasts in a neutral or gray dining room for a striking aesthetic full of depth and interest.
Adri and Dahlman say: 'This eating area was designed for a family who wanted to introduce color but in a sophisticated fashion. We accomplished this by painting the walls a light blue and choosing a darker blue fabric dining chair option. Even with all of the blue introduced, the space still feels neutral and open due to the white built-ins and trim and the natural stained wood floors.'
'To balance the heaviness of the fabric chairs, we chose a dining table with a glass top. The contemporary, organic light fixture was chosen to juxtapose the more transitional shapes of the furniture and millwork.'
15. Create a dark and dramatic dining room atmosphere
Forget lights, camera, action. If you want to create a dining room fit for a movie star, it's more lights, candles, action. Because the devil's in the detail for this dark and moody interiors trend.
The Chinoiserie-style gray wallpaper idea beautifully clashes with floral curtains to create a busy eating area bursting with interest. To stop the room from looking too OTT, a simple four-seater round dining table is styled with Art-Deco-inspired chairs for comfort and opulence.
16. Match your crockery to your wall color
Layer candy floss pinks and pistachio greens for a sweet take on pastel decorating ideas. Think creamy pastel cushion covers, colored ceramic vases, and iridescent glassware. And of course, bouquets of flowers stop this scheme from looking childish.
By matching your crockery with your walls, it makes the pastel pink in this scheme less sickly-sweet and chicer. Notice how vases in sunshine yellow, sage, and lavender also break up the rosewater-colored scheme.
17. Create a members' club look for less
If there's such a thing as #diningroomgoals – this is it. And would you expect anything less from the Soho Home interior designers? If you can't afford a subscription to one of their members' houses across the globe, why not create a luxurious dining room that pays homage to their style?
Start off by sourcing an oak and polished marble dining table to create an exquisite scheme that is as appetizing as the chef's menu. Then, accompanying chairs are just as tasteful. You'll want to look for seats that have a deep-sit form for comfort. Enhance this already relaxed look by finding linen cushions that cry for you to take a seat on.
Instead of adopting a glass chandelier light, this scheme uses a much more affordable and eco-friendly coconut material. But if you can't find something as exotic, a light made from the string will look just as good to create a boho design idea. Add a large mirror and overarching houseplants to create a grand dining setting.
'Rugs are a great place to start when designing a room as they add instant impact and a focal point to your room. Framing vintage textiles and using them as artwork also works really well and won’t break the bank.', adds Martin Waller, founder of global design brand Andrew Martin.
18. Opt for a cozy farmhouse scheme for family meals
Whether it's grandma's peach cobbler or mom's fried chicken, we all have memories of sitting around the table with good home-cooked meals. So when looking to create a dining room scheme, you may want to turn to a familiar interior style that takes you back to the good old times.
This dining room design uses a farmhouse kitchen idea as its foundation with rattan chairs and wooden wall paneling. Note the armchair and leather footstool which is perfect for someone who has finished eating and wants to step away from the table. Style with wooden utensils and wicker baskets for storage.
19. Create a tropical and biophilic scheme with plants
Mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing, incorporating indoor plants into your dining room can do wonders for your family at dinner time.
Having greenery around the kids can turn an otherwise chaotic mealtime into a tranquil time to sit, eat and spend some quality time learning about each other's day.
Coupled with a roman blind window treatment, you can create a calm atmosphere blocking out sunlight or street lights so there are no distractions or excuses for tantrums at the table. When switched on, the bright light from the chandelier will help create pretty ivy-shaped silhouettes too, so your little tikes can pretend they're Tarzan and Jane when tucking into their food.
20. Layer up on textures for a boho style dining room
There’s so much to love about this dining room, it’s brimming full of gorgeous textural elements, let’s start with the table and bench – the chevron dining table above is bang on trend – parquet is becoming more popular each day, so get on it now.
Teamed with rattan chairs and faux fur cushions, this look is the ultimate in tactile heaven, add in a hint of decoration with patterned bowls and glasses, oh and the stunning lampshade, then sit and enjoy your new boho design idea.
21. Create a retro 1970s vibe using warm colors
'Browns, oranges, and purples were considered the groovy colors of the 1970s and were often used in bold patterns and combinations,' says Joa Studholme, color curator at Farrow & Ball.
'Mellower and easier to live with than those of the previous decade, their earthy natural tones reflected a connection to nature, with dark brown woodwork being extraordinarily popular.'
22. Choose a round table in a small dining room
We love a round table – it takes up less floor space than a square or rectangular table, which in turn makes a small dining room look bigger. What's more, it's the perfect shape for creating a sociable space, and you can squeeze more people around a round table than one with corners.
But can it work for home and school work? Yes, if there’s no more than two of you trying to work on it at the same time and they work particularly well for that WFH life.
23. Paint your dining room white to create the illusion of more space
Before being painted, it’s possible that this white dining room had dark beams and a dark fire surround. The ceiling is low compared to most rooms so painting it white will really help to give the illusion of space. The windows and double doors allow oodles of light to stream in, keeping them blind/curtain free also creates an airy feel. The balance is created by the warmth of the wooden floorboards, the dining table, chairs, and accessories.
24. Colorful dining room ideas? Use paint to zone an open-plan space
How delicious are these colors together? A super pretty color scheme that also cleverly zones an open plan space into a dining area that defines the room. Note how the deeper pink comes up and onto the ceiling? What a great wall painting idea!
You can do this with some Frogtape and a pair of strong arms. The warm tones of the mid-century furniture look fab against this shade – pick crockery to match the lighter pink to bring the look together.
25. Use dark walls as a back drop to dining room furniture
This fabulously dramatic wall provides the ideal backdrop for this contemporary dining room. We love how the wall has been split into two, with the black skirting and wall painted around the bottom and the bottle green textured effect above.
The bright red shelving adds a splash of color and you can change the accessories on it to add in more patterns and bright shades as and when. Opt for interesting shapes like this modern table and chairs – especially that table, and we love the globe light!
26. Keep everything simple for a minimalist dining room
One of the home decor trends in 2022 is about living in a pared-back way, with more simplicity, fewer ‘things’, and having more nature in our homes. We welcome this style as it’s all about choosing wisely and buying pieces that have style but will last. Ikea is great at being one step ahead and we love the clean lines of this dining room. The textures make this minimally decorated room very welcoming.
27. Need to squeeze dining seating into a kitchen? Choose benches over chairs
Open plan kitchen diners lend themselves to a more relaxed feel and this is why this double bench option works well. But if your open plan kitchen diner is already tight on space, benches are a practical choice, too. They take up less space visually than chairs – and if you can tie them in with the kitchen's decor, like in this room you can create a cohesive look that feels really put together.
28. Go for a bench and chair combo for maximum seating
Benches, on the whole, can squeeze on extra bottoms so they’re a great option for small people – kids on one side, adults on chairs on the other side right? This Poise bench from John Lewis sits three and you can match it with the Poise table which is narrow yet long – great for a dining room where space is compromised.
Plus, it also extends, which is a win-win when everyone is trying to ‘work’ at the same time! The tabletop has rounded edges too which is a bonus with young kids careering around.
29. Add accent shades for a happy colorful dining room
Color can be such a useful tool when you’re revamping a plain space because it can add instant personality and character. In this dining room idea, these chairs are being used as an accent to pick up the wall color and it looks great! The detail in the curtains and rugs also ties in the blue. Another key element here is that many of the pieces are curvy too – the chairs, table, and those fabulous lampshades; all help to create a successful and uber-stylish look.
30. Contrast light and dark
Only use your dining room at night? We’re not all fans of light and airy, in fact, deep shades are visually stunning more often than not and this dining room is spot on. To make a look like this work you need balance – yes, we do mention this a lot, but it's true!
This dining room idea is about light and dark – the inky blue walls are perfectly balanced out by the white tableware, the pale blue of the curtains adds a color layer, as well as pattern, and the mahogany table and chairs, give a rustic element as well as adding in texture.
31. Pick narrow chairs to fit in more seats
We’re not all blessed with a kitchen AND dining room so your kitchen often has to work doubly hard. Ikea is the master at dealing with space issues and we love how they’ve zoned the dining area with the rug and their compact NORRÅKER and RÖNNINGE birch table and chairs. Making sure the chairs neatly fit underneath the table when not in use is key for space-saving.
32. Dining room ideas on a budget? Repurpose existing furniture
Having a little shift around of furniture can work wonders to improve a space – and using a sofa for one side of a table is a genius dining room idea that we’ll be considering in our own homes!
If it’s not quite the right height for the table then add extra cushions to sit on – this option definitely creates a more relaxed feel and mixing and matching different styles of seating creates a more individual look.
33. Keep things relaxed with slubby materials
Looking for dining room ideas to suit your laid-back style? This relaxing scheme has a hint of both industrial and modern styling. It is minimal in terms of ‘things’, the table is contemporary yet softened by the linen tablecloth, and the chrome pendant and galvanized chairs give a modern feel. The earthenware adds character and gives an organic element to the room together with the textured rug. This look would work with flat bare walls too.
34. Pick country dining room ideas with a contemporary feel
Jessica’s beautiful country cottage in the heart of the Peak District was quite dark inside when they moved in. There are only windows on one side of the cottage and Jessica’s aim was to harness what little light they gave to be reflected back into the room.
White was the perfect choice for this and she also finds it has a calming effect on her which is always a bonus! Jessica decided to keep the beams natural to match the flooring so the space didn’t feel too stark and her minimalist styling gives a modern rustic look to match her country kitchen which we love!
35. Add a touch of pattern to a plain space
Looking for ways to introduce pattern into your home? There are lots to like about this dining room – firstly, the decorative aspect really lifts the scheme. If you love your main wall color and have some tester pots sitting idle, create a stencil or buy one, and add in some contrasting pops of color. It will give the space a new lease of life! The second element we love is the mismatched chairs and rustic table, both create a lovely relaxed feel which is always a bonus and those copper pendants are dreamy!
36. Go for bolder color in your dining room
It’s well known that color lifts our moods and you can have a lot of fun creating fabulous color combinations for your dining room that do just that. Take green, for example, you can design a whole dining room scheme using different shades of it as shown here. From the teal shutters to the bottle green dado rail aspect, to the grass green painted chairs and lime green candlesticks and jug. You can use an item to be your starting point - the rug for example, and base your shades around that - we love the pop of pale pink that can be used as an accent.
37. Create a retro diner
Do you love seeing old school American diners in films? Why not create your own? This fabulous dining space ticks all of the super cool boxes – the wood paneling, the bench seating, the white formica table, and swivel chairs. The pastel crockery adds extra color and looks out for a seventies-style sugar pot and milk jug.
Finish off the room with these fabulous clear glass globe lights that can illuminate your dining experience through to the evening and extend the scheme to your cooking area with a retro kitchen idea.
38. Turn your dining room into a WFH space
With more of us working from home we need small dining room ideas that provide more than just a place to eat. Investing in a good-sized dining table will ease the pressure as it can work hard for you and cover all the bases – from breakfast place to workspace, homework at one end, to a Zoom call at the other.
And then family meals to end the day. To add a decorative aspect to an otherwise plain scheme, consider an all-over pattern on your floor, we love how subtle this looks and it works well with the white walls and prevents the space from looking too sparse.
39. Create a focal point with wallpaper
We often consider wallpaper trends for living rooms and bedrooms, but forget that dining rooms also look fabulous with patterned walls. If you have a light and airy dining space then a bold and beautiful design will work really well.
Once you’ve chosen a design, pull out a color or two from the pattern to inspire your accessory choices – we love the yellow pendant above the table and note how the mid-century modern sideboard and wooden chairs add warmth to the scheme and tie in with the wallpaper shades. Cohesiveness is key to making a room work so keep it simple and let the wallpaper be the focal point.
40. Keep the focus on your accessories with a tablescape
‘Create that wow-factor by mixing and matching your dinner plates, side plates, and bowls instead of sticking to traditional matching sets. This adds variety and interest to your table and allows you to showcase a breadth of different ceramic styles', says Lucy Ward, creative brand director at Trouva.
'Though the rules are few and far between, I recommend keeping the rest of the elements on your table, like cutlery and glassware, consistent to avoid overloading your table with different styles.’
Are dining rooms becoming obsolete?
'I do not believe that the dining room is a redundant space, but the kitchen is becoming a dual-functional space for cooking as well as eating meaning open plan living has to be second nature,' says Tom Howley, owner of Tom Howley Kitchens.
'There is a time and a place for formal dining, but the modern kitchen has to be able to accommodate an impromptu pasta with friends or an unforeseen stir fry with the family. Not only this, but the kitchen is also a homework base, a relaxed office space, and a home bar.'
What furniture goes into a dining room?
'From coming together for family dinners to working from home or even helping children with school work, the dining room is becoming a space that has to be as multi-functional as the rest of our homes.', says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director, Kelling Designs.
'For homes that don't have an open-plan design, keeping that definition for the dining space is essential, with a more casual setup being the go-to choice. It's important to think about who's going to be using the room and what for - will it just be a space where you come together at mealtimes, will you be working from home or home-schooling the kids in the space, or will it be a space to do arts and crafts with the family? Once you've figured this out, you can make decisions on the key furniture pieces. '
'If the room is large enough, and you tend to have big family get-togethers then will a larger dining table in a statement material such as wood with enough chairs to seat everyone? If space is at a premium, however, then it may be better to go for an extending design with a bench seat and additional folding chairs that can be stored away when not needed.'