More than just a forum for eating, the dining room is often a focal point of the home. From hosting emergency family meetings to the scene of dinner parties turned late-night drinks with friends, dining rooms are many things to many people.
With its multifunctional purpose in mind, a dining room’s design and décor becomes an important consideration. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can furnish and beautify your space to turn it into a room that’s welcoming and fit for (multiple) purpose(s).
Whether yours masquerades as a makeshift office or it’s simply the place you enjoy meals with friends and family, here are some dining room design ideas to update your space.
How to add atmosphere with dining room lighting
You simply can’t underestimate the importance of good lighting. In any room, well appointed illumination is key to forging a comfortable atmosphere. The dining room is no different.
Usually, the dining table is the focal point of the room, so reinforce that idea with your lighting. A pendant light hung low over a table will add a bold decorative statement, alongside its functional primary purpose of casting rays over meal times and more. For larger dining rooms, several ceiling lights can add to the effect.
It doesn’t have to be an old-fashioned chandelier style – there are contemporary variations that work just as well, and modern pendant lighting for the dining room is a quick way to update the room.
What’s important to remember is that the dining room should be a place to relax. A space where you wind down, entertain, chew the fat (as well as the food) with friends. To that end, dining room lighting should add a mellow ambience to the space.
Decorative bulbs with coloured glass and extravagant filaments are just the trick; casting a warm glow that’s as far removed from clinical, harsh white light as you can imagine.
Because it’s a room that’s often used during the evening (and occasionally well into the night), light can be used to add drama to the space. As well as lighting from above, strategically placed floor lamps can further the appeal. Choose a statement piece for a corner, that will draw the eye and allow the full majesty of the room to be appreciated.
For additional ambience, add a layer of decorative lighting; perhaps drape some soft fairy lights over a piece of furniture, or add to a glass bowl for an additional glow. At meal times with loved ones, light a candle or two and enjoy the flicker of the flame.
Which colours and schemes work best in dining rooms?
Your house, your rules. Basically, whatever colour you like, goes. But if you take a moment to think about how you use your dining room, certain shades and tones may work better than others.
Here’s the skinny on the best dining room colours and schemes.
At the end of a hectic day, settling down to a good meal is one of the simplest ways to relax. Introducing shades of blue to the dining room can add to that comforting feeling, enrobing you in a sense of tranquillity.
Perfect if your dining room looks out over a garden, a touch of greenery can bring a natural feel to the room. Floral patterns and leaves are welcome ways to bring a sense of the outdoors in. Deeper greens, such as emerald, can have an energising effect – so you can refuel in more ways than one.
Dusky, pastel shades of pink can bring a sense of calm and serenity to your space, while a more punchy and bright hue will embolden the room. Not for the faint of heart, but we’re all about that statement look.
Reds and yellows
Warm colours such as red, yellow and orange are thought by some to make us feel peckish. Ideal, then, for a room whose primary purpose is for eating. Introduce one (or more) of these and enjoy the inviting ambience.
If the room receives plenty of natural light during daylight hours, don’t be afraid to be bold with darker tones that will have an arresting impact on entry. Indigo, deep purple, slate grey, even midnight black are all statement makers.
When choosing your colour scheme, use a colour wheel to identify pairings that work well together. And don’t just think about paint and wallpaper; colour can be introduced throughout the room with furniture, accessories and more.
For a pared back look, go for monochrome or stick to earthy tones, and then layer on the colour with soft furnishings and decorative objects.
Add character with these dining room decorating ideas
Your colour scheme may go some way to showing your personality, but your true character shines through in your choice of decorations and finishing touches.
Over time, the ornaments, accessories and trinkets you accumulate come together to tell the story of you and your home. The dining room is a place where chat flows freely, so lead the conversation with interesting décor.
Mirrors are miracle workers in just about any room, and a dining room can benefit from their near-magical properties. If your eating quarters are on the small side (more on that later), a well-positioned mirror can open up the room and give that all-important illusion of space.
In fact, more spacious dining rooms can also be beneficiaries of mirrors; a statement piece can bring a grandiose look to the space. And remember those lighting tips we mentioned earlier? A mirror will intensify the look by reflecting shafts of light around the room.
Another way to add character to a dining room is with wall art. Choose colourful prints and abstract designs that create a real wow factor, and perhaps add some texture with metal wall sculptures.
Photos are another good way to add a personal touch to your room, so mix frames of differing styles, sizes and shapes to turn your wall into a gallery. Additional wall-dwelling features like oversized statement clocks can tie the design together. For more inspiration, take a peek at our feature wall ideas.
The finishing touches are usually the things that set the room off the most, so don’t be afraid to embolden the room with a selection of decorative ornaments and accessories.
Sideboards and shelving units offer the perfect blank canvas from which to showcase your personal tastes. Layer on ornaments, books, decorative accessories and anything that means something to you, and soon you’ll have a unique and intriguing display.
Foliage and florals are always a winner, so add a final flourish by filling a statement vase with seasonal flowers and plants.
Furniture ideas for your dining room
Decorating and design elements aside, it’s the furniture that makes a dining room a dining room. Some dining room furniture pieces are essentials, others are nice-to-haves…
Yeah. The obvious: stated. But more than just a functional surface, the dining table is integral to the overall design of your dining room, so it’s worth spending that extra time to make a considered choice.
Material is one factor; if your room is to be a classic style, perhaps a wooden option like oak or walnut would work best. If you’re aiming for a more modern vibe, glass or metal might be more suited.
What about colour? Aside from the earthy tones of natural materials, tables now come in a full rainbow of shades – so you’ll need one that matches your scheme.
And there’s also shape and size to consider. While you need something that’ll fill your room and not look lost, it also needs to leave enough space for free movement. Ensure you choose a table that’ll seat the whole family (with enough room in reserve for additional guests). Rectangular or square is the most traditional option, but a circular table can be great for allowing a free-flowing conversation amongst friends.
If you’re entertaining in shoebox dimensions, space saving dining tables are your friend; folding or extendable options will optimise space between mealtimes, and provide additional settings when you need them.
Of course, you’ll need chairs to go alongside the table. For an understated look, you might want to opt for a complete dining set – table avec matching chairs. If you’re a little more adventurous, you can always opt for a more eclectic mix of seating options.
Pair a few chairs with a dining bench, or inject some (more) colour to the room with an array of vibrant shades. There are no hard and fast rules; just make sure they’re comfortable enough to spend a few hours sat on, and that you have enough seats for everyone.
No longer just a place where your gran displays her antique plate collection, sideboards and cabinets are dining room miracle workers. If the room’s spacious enough, one of these is a great way to add interest and functionality.
On the surface, they allow you to display those ornaments and accessories we mentioned earlier. And beneath – in drawers and closed cupboards – they allow you to store your dining room wares. Table linen, crockery, cutlery, glassware…you name it, the sideboard will hold it.
Need some further inspiration? Take a snoop around these effortlessly cool dining rooms from our Today’s Coolest Habitats features. Now, what are you waiting for? Run along and give your dining room the design overhaul it deserves!