“Creating a meal for my friends and family, sitting together, eating, laughing and talking—that is when I am so happy.” – Gwyneth Paltrow
From holiday meals to birthday celebrations, from board games to family meetings, so many significant moments happen around the dining room table. It’s an extension of the kitchen, the heart of the home, a simple area where memories are made, and gatherings are cherished. It’s also an easily forgotten room in this era of gobbling down meals in front of a screen.
If your dining table has become a clutter catch-all or is otherwise not a room you long to spend time in, it’s time for a dining room makeover. Whether simple DIY projects are all that’s needed, or every element needs updating, you can breathe new life into your dining room with these brilliant dining room decor ideas.
1. Small Dining Room Ideas
To keep from overwhelming a small dining room, keep your furniture and accessories to scale. A small round table with four chairs is preferable to trying to squeeze a six-seater table into a tiny space. Give the room a large impact with a bold wallpapered accent wall and a coordinating area rug. Hang a large mirror across from the window to double the natural light.
Banquette seating is ideal in a small dining room or kitchen breakfast nook, especially since you can use the under-seat area for storage. You can also push the table against the bench to open up more floor space between meals. Toss fun throw pillows along the seat to add a dash of color. Watch this video to learn how to DIY your own banquette or bench seating:
2. Dining Room Table Ideas
In most cases, a dining room table is a big investment. Make sure you measure the space and only look at table styles that will fit comfortably into the room. Your heart may desire a long, farmhouse table but a round pedestal table may be more practical. Note that chairs do not have to match the table, and mixing/matching different chair styles is a fun way to give the room an eclectic vibe.
Embellish your table with placemats or a runner, and a statement centerpiece. A simple arrangement of candles and greenery can suffice or go for a more traditional floral arrangement. Line up beautiful apothecary jars on a narrow tray or show off a collection of succulents in colorful ceramic pots.
3. Lighting Ideas for Dining Rooms
A beaded chandelier can help soften the lines of a contemporary dining room. For maximum lighting and décor impact, mix and match dining room lighting sources. Recessed ceiling cans, a dangling chandelier or pendants, and a table lamp or two will cast the room with a natural light glow.
What you choose for your main lighting fixture will be one of the room ideas that makes the most impact. Resist the temptation to go small when deciding what will hang over the table.
Rustic or farmhouse décor often includes a light-draped ladder fixture over the dining room table. Learn how to DIY a ladder light fixture in this video:
4. Wall Décor Ideas for Dining Rooms
A classic dining room wall décor effect is to hang wainscoting up to chair rail level. In a cottage or beach house, replace traditional wainscoting panels with beadboard. Use horizontal shiplap for a farmhouse look, either below the chair rail or on an entire accent wall. Hang a bold wallpaper on one wall to add texture and color without overwhelming the room.
The décor you choose for the dining room walls provides a way of showing off your personality. For an eclectic vibe, hang an assortment of flat baskets or colorful plates collected from around the world. Choose a large painting that showcases your favorite things, or frame a series of paintings or photographs for a gallery wall. Don’t forget the power that mirrors have to expand your space and reflect natural light.
5. Rustic Dining Room Ideas
A rustic or industrial dining room features distressed wood surfaces, lots of metal accents, and repurposed objects. Exposed brick fits well into rustic design, whether left bare or whitewashed. A large stacked stone fireplace can be the anchor point in a large rustic dining room. Stained or painted wood shiplap also works well as an accent wall or on all four walls.
Cover the ceiling with wood paneling or add faux wood beams to a high ceiling. A dining table that has a bench on one side suits a rustic, casual decorating scheme. Keep window treatments simple, such as wood blinds or shutters instead of soft drapes.
6. Transitional Dining Room Ideas
“Transitional” is a word used to describe home décor that combines traditional and contemporary finishes, materials, and furniture. It’s a way to make a space feel more comfortable and welcoming. It is meant to reflect your personality; therefore, the room can be as eclectic or sophisticated as you wish.
A transitional dining room may have a traditional table surrounded by chairs that are all of different styles. For example, mix and match upholstered parson’s chairs and wooden Windsor chairs, and place striped fabric next to a botanical print. In most cases, transitional design relies on a neutral color scheme. This helps create a serene atmosphere and allows each piece’s unique lines to shine.
7. Modern Dining Room Ideas
A modern dining room is a study in minimalism. Dining room chair and table lines are angular and strong, clutter is nonexistent, color is reserved for strategic bursts of impact. Modern room ideas focus on how to make the room functional and simple.
If mid-century modern style is your favorite, a glossy white pedestal table surrounded by colorful Eames chairs will do the trick. Corner banquette seating was also popular in the 1950s and 60s and works well in a small dining nook. Hang a starburst clock and retro artwork to complete the midcentury vibe.
8. Living/Dining Room Ideas
If you have an open concept floor plan, this can open up new dining room ideas. While many prefer the two room ideas to flow seamlessly together, others prefer to use a different type of flooring or paint color to designate each space. You could build up a dark wood platform to set the dining room table a step higher than the living room. Or place a bold area rug beneath the table to visually separate the spaces.
A low bookshelf can mark the line between dining and living areas, or the back of the sofa can work as well. If continuity is your goal, use the same color schemes in the living and dining rooms. Look for a dining table chandelier that matches the metal in your living room lamps or furniture. If you have a dark wood dining table top, use that same color of wood on the living room mantel or coffee table.
9. Kitchen/Dining Room Ideas
When your kitchen and dining room connect openly, this presents some design challenges. It can also make decorating easier in that your design style and color scheme can flow seamlessly between the two zones. If you have featured a signature color in the kitchen, repeat it in your dining room ideas. For example, look for green upholstered dining chairs that match a green kitchen island.
In a smaller home or apartment, you may not even have a separate dining room. If your dining table and chairs must go in a breakfast nook or eat-in kitchen, a more casual dining room approach is usually best. You can still achieve continuity by choosing the same style for bar stools and table chairs, and by matching rug and curtain choices.
10. Contemporary Dining Room Ideas
A contemporary dining room retains some of the formality of a traditional dining room while projecting a clearly fresh vibe. White walls or grey walls are common, accompanied by furniture in a variety of neutral colors. Dining tables and chairs will have curved edges and softer lines than those found in modern design. Textures are welcome in a contemporary dining room, but clutter is not.
Keep your contemporary dining space simple but awe-inspiring by focusing on specific pieces that make an impact. For example, hang a slightly oversized metal lighting fixture with lines that repeat the shape of your dining chair details. While the overall color scheme should be neutral, a pop of color is appropriate, whether that’s a punch of cherry red or a soothing swath of sage green.
11. Traditional Dining Room Ideas
The appeal of a traditional dining room is timeless. While many modern homes shy away from having a separate dining room, there’s something to be said for having a space dedicated to making memories around the table. Their inviting formality makes your guests feel special in a way that open concept spaces cannot.
A traditional dining room is the perfect place to show off inherited or found antiques. Toile and botanical prints are traditional fabric choices for seat cushions, curtains, or artwork. Leather accent chairs provide a solid masculine strength. Muted colors add serenity while crystal and metal accessories highlight the room with subtle sparkle.
12. Ceiling Ideas for Dining Rooms
Starting from the top down, your dining room ceiling has the potential to take your dining room from ordinary to exquisite. Accentuate existing trey or recessed ceilings with wood or mirrored panels. You can add recessed lighting or draw attention to the ceiling by painting it a different color. A coffered ceiling is a classic dining room feature that benefits from a contrasting color paint job.
Textures draw the eye up to the ceiling. They can also help polish your overall design scheme. If you’re up for a DIY project, add beadboard paneling and/or exposed beams to the ceiling. Or cover a plain popcorn ceiling with antique ceiling tiles. Home improvement centers sell a variety of faux tin ceiling materials that are easy to DIY, as shown in this video:
13. Curtain Ideas for Dining Rooms
Any kind of window treatment that fits your style will work in the dining room. Dining room ideas for curtains usually include some form of layering. A farmhouse style dining room might have flowy white drapes over rolling bamboo shades, while a more elegant dining room could layer sheer curtains below darker solid curtain panels.
Bold curtain choices help make a large dining room feel cozier. If you have an open concept floor plan, where the kitchen and the living room are open to the dining area, make sure your curtains complement the entire space. While it’s fine to use a different type of window treatment in this scenario, try to repeat the overall colors and textures in each area.