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dining room decorated with chandelier and upholstered chairs

Dining Room Ideas: How To Style Your Dining Space

Morgan McBride9-Minute Read
September 25, 2020

Formal dining rooms can be a big selling feature when house hunting. However, these rooms can be very overwhelming to decorate. They are often one of the first rooms that guests see when they enter your home and you want them to make the right statement! Whether you frequently throw dinner parties or are more of a homebody, decorating your dining room so you are proud of it is always a good idea. These dining room ideas are sure to inspire you to whip your space into shape.

General Decor Ideas

If you’re just starting to decorate your dining room, there are a few things to keep in mind. Sit down and take the time to make a plan for how you want the room to look. This way, you’ll save time and money by only buying things that work for you.

Match It To The Rest Of Your Home’s Decor

dining room table and chairs near kitchen

An easy way to stylize your dining room is just to match it to the decor style of every other room in your home. This allows your interior design layout to make a uniform statement. A few examples of these home decor styles include modern farmhouse, boho and cottagecore. If your home doesn’t have a specific cohesive style, instead try to replicate the color palette that you are already using in the rest of your home. Focus on the adjoining rooms – often the kitchen and the living room – and the spaces that guests will most often see when visiting your home.

If you want to give your dining room a farmhouse look, start by incorporating some rustic elements. A rustic or reclaimed-looking dining table is a great place to start. Decorate with pieces that appear to be collected over time from flea markets. This could mean mismatched chairs or interesting vintage decor. Focus on neutral colors, such as whites, blacks and grays. Feature a lot of natural wood tones in the furniture and use greenery and plants for decor.

To get a boho look in your dining room, start with a modern, sleek table in a light or neutral wood tone. Add a lot of texture – woven baskets can be used as storage but also as wall decor or even as a pendant light cover. Create a centerpiece using sticks or branches gathered from outdoors. Stick to neutral colors, but consider incorporating jewel tones through a bold statement rug. Finally, add lots of houseplants for a lush, green feeling.

Make It A Statement Space

dining room with olive wall and wooden and covered chairs

On the other hand, you can also opt to make your dining room into a space that stands out from the rest of your interior design style. This can be done by decorating with an entirely different theme from the rest of your home, by accenting the space with bold colors or by choosing  unique accent furniture.

If you want to choose a new theme for your space, pick one that complements the theme or style of the rest of your home. For example, a super modern dining room would be kind of strange in a farmhouse style home. However, you could incorporate more modern, masculine elements in a modified modern farmhouse style. This allows for a bold statement without seeming entirely out of place.

Another way to make your dining room stand out is to select a bold color scheme. In the 1990’s, this was a popular choice with many homes having a bright red dining room. Keep it a bit more cohesive than that for a more modern feel. You might want to select an accent color from the rest of your home and use it as the main color for your dining room. This makes a bold statement while still feeling like it makes sense in your house.

The final way to make your dining room into a statement space is by choosing bold furniture. The dining table is a great place to do this. Consider painting your table a bold color to really draw the eye. Or, leave your table neutral and instead have statement chairs. They could be all the same or each unique. You could also add a bold credenza or china cabinet to your dining space, with bold accessories on top.

Get Creative With Your Dining Table

woman in orange dress decorating living room

A lot of the decor pieces in a dining room can be found on the table. For example, the tablecloth, place settings, centerpieces, and even seasonal decorations can say a lot about a homeowner’s taste and interests. If you want to leave your furnishings fairly neutral, use your table decorations as an opportunity to incorporate color and texture into your space. It can be very fun to change your table decorations seasonally, giving you lots of opportunities to express your personal style.

Wall Decor Ideas

An easy way to decorate and personalize your dining room is with wall decor. Wall decor can include art, photography, shelving and even unique wall treatments. Here are several ways in which homeowners can stylize the wall space in their dining rooms with these dining room wall decor ideas.

Hang Photos Of Loved Ones

Hanging pictures of your friends and family on the walls of your dining room makes the space feel more personal and welcoming. When choosing photos, pick just a few favorites and have them printed in larger sizes – at least 8x10 – for the biggest impact. If you have a lot of mismatched photos and want a more formal look, consider having them printed in black and white for a bold statement.

Curate A Gallery Wall

Creating a gallery wall of art or photography that you love can be a great way to express your personality in your dining room. When creating a gallery wall, you do want some sort of cohesiveness. Either hang all similar items – such as all photography or all pieces with a similar color scheme – or hang the very unique items in similar frames to give a sense of cohesiveness. You can hang your art as formally as in a grid design or in a completely loose and unstructured random style gallery wall. The less structured, the less formal the wall will feel.

Mount Shelves For Additional Storage

If your kitchen doesn’t have enough space for storing all of your dishware, it’s possible to expand the available storage solutions into your dining room by mounting shelves or hanging racks and stylizing them so it doubles as part of the space’s decor. This can be especially beautiful when paired with a credenza or buffet. Stack the shelves high so they help to draw your eye upward. This will make the ceilings feel higher and the room feel larger overall.

Add a Wall Treatment

Another way to add interest and detail to your dining room walls is with a wall treatment. This is something that you attach to or do directly on the walls. For example, molding is very popular in dining rooms. Wainscoting is a great option and is a surprisingly simple DIY. You can also hang wallpaper for a bold pattern in your dining space.

Lighting Ideas

Lighting is a super important, yet often overlooked, aspect of decorating any space. Your dining room can have a drastically different vibe simply by swapping out the lighting. Here are some of the different lighting options homeowners can incorporate with these dining room lighting ideas.

Unique Chandeliers

Chandeliers are the traditional dining room lighting option. They are often large and statement-making, centered over your dining room table. However, your chandelier doesn’t have to be dripping with crystals. More informal options – such as lanterns, orb-style lights, or even modern sputnik lights – are a great way to show off your personal style. Just be sure that your light is not too small. Chandeliers that are at least ¼ as long as the table look best. If you have a long rectangular dining room table, it’s a good idea to choose a long light instead of a round one.

Pendant Lights

If you have a long dining room table or just like multiple light sources, pendant lights might be for you. Select pendants in odd numbers – 1, 3 or 5 usually – since odd numbers are most pleasing to the eye. If you don’t have multiple electrical hookups in your ceiling, look for light fixtures that look like a cluster or line of pendant lighting but are really just one singular light fixture. These types of lights often look great over a long rectangular table.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is a very popular option for any room of the house and the dining room is no different. While recessed can lights are usually added when a home is built or remodeled, an electrician can definitely add them after the fact, too. Can lights are great because they disappear when they’re turned off, but offer really bright lighting when they’re on. If your dining room has recessed lighting, you can still add additional lighting with a chandelier or pendants. It’s great to have multiple light sources for a space!

Lamps

If you need an additional light source in your dining room, you can always add lamps. You can add table lamps to a buffet or credenza. Floor lamps can be placed in a dark corner to help brighten the space. You can also add plug-in or hardwired sconces on the wall for an extra bit of lighting when you need it.

Other Ways To Use And Style Your Dining Room Space

It’s entirely possible that you live in a home with a dedicated formal dining room but don’t want to use that space for eating. If you don’t have big meals or parties often, then a formal dining room might not be the right use of space for your family. Here are some additional ways homeowners can utilize and stylize their dining room spaces if they don’t have a need to use it as an actual dining room.

Home Office

With the rise in office workers working from home, you might want to convert your formal dining room into a home office. To do this, you’ll want to clear out all of the dining furniture. Decide how much desk surface area you need – if you just use a laptop, a small desk will do, but if you need to work with papers or multiple screens, you might need a larger desk. Be sure to add a very comfortable chair you can work in all day. Ensure that you have plenty of good task lighting for what you do. Add shelving or storage depending on the supplies and equipment that you might need nearby while you work.

Personal Library

If you love books and don’t need a formal dining room, a dedicated home library can be a wonderful luxury. Remove all of the dining room furniture and line as many walls as possible with bookshelves. Add comfortable seating and ottomans or poufs for resting your feet. If you really want to go over the top, a rolling library ladder is a beautiful and classic addition to any library, even if it’s not functional.

Plant Room

If you love plants and your dining room gets good natural light, you might consider repurposing it as a space to house your indoor plants. You will want to add lots of vertical storage – either shelves or tall plant stands – so you can have plants at lots of heights. You can also hang hooks so you can have hanging plants in the windows. Be sure to set up a tabletop with jars or vases to serve as a plant propagation station. It can be great to add a small cart or caddy for your plant supplies including a watering can, spray bottle, microfiber cloths and scissors.

Play Room

If you have small kids, you probably have a ton of toys and games. A dedicated playroom is a great way to corral those toys and have a room of your home completely dedicated to the kids. Dining rooms are often located right off the kitchen, which is a prime location for small kids to play close to their parents who might be preparing for or cleaning up after a meal.

To turn a dining room into a playroom, first get rid of all of your furniture. Instead, have storage pieces such as cube shelving to hold bins and baskets of the kids’ toys. The rest of the furniture should be totally reflective of what your kids like to do; if they do art, have a craft table; if they like to wrestle, get crash pads and climbing furniture.

Decor-wise, playrooms are the perfect place to have fun in your home. Incorporate color and pattern – you can get away with it! And of course, let your kids weigh in on the design. Take the opportunity to include their favorite colors and things – after all, they are only kids once.

The Bottom Line

Dining rooms are a great space to have in your home. Whether you want it to blend in cohesively with the rest of your home or stand out as a statement room, your dining room is full of endless possibilities. If you don’t need a formal space, don’t let it go to waste! Repurposing a formal dining room is a totally valid way to decorate and use it, too. Be sure to check out more homeowner tips on the Rocket HomesSM blog.

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Morgan McBride

Morgan McBride is a DIY-lover and home decor enthusiast living in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been blogging at CharlestonCrafted.com alongside her husband since 2012, where they empower their readers to craft their current home into their dream home through the power of DIY.