A lot happens in the dining room. Some families use it to enjoy home-cooked food and long conversations, others to host classy parties or board game nights. In plenty of households, a formal dining table is just as utilized as a couch or a bed – used but often neglected from a design point of view.
From a design point of view, dining rooms are a bit on the awkward side. There is no furniture to fill the space other than a table and some chairs. How do you make it cozy or visually appealing, then?
Upon a second look, there’s more to a dining room than meets the eye.
Aside from the dining table, which is the absolute focal point of the room, other classics to include are the large area rug, on-theme wall accents, and artisanal light fixtures. You can transform an entire space only by adding a vintage cabinet, a patterned wallpaper, a gallery wall, or a bar cart.
From a design point of view, a dining room boasts endless potential. Here’s how to use it.
In any style and layout, the table will always be the most crucial piece of furniture in the dining room. More often than not, the choice of a dining table will affect all other decisions, aesthetic and functional alike. The table comes first; everything else revolves around this center-of-attention piece.
That being said, the question remains – how to choose a perfect dining room table?
The answer depends on many factors, aesthetic and functional alike.
When they are styling a dining room, some of the designers’ first questions include the family’s everyday lifestyle, such as how much time they spend in this room, what they use it for, and how many people usually sit at the table. The other factor you must consider is room size.
That will determine the size and shape of your table – rectangular for classic or circular for cozy.
Everything else is a matter of styling and the vibe you want to create.
A rug plays an exciting role in dining room design.
In most cases, the rug is there to support your table choice. Its shape and texture usually provide the unassuming but crucial underpinning for a chosen aesthetic design. In unique cases, however, a rug is there to create an unconventional juxtaposition and steer the room in another direction.
One way or the other, a dining room rug is also a must for practical reasons.
Even if your dining room comes with floor heating, your feet deserve something softer than solid hardwood. Dining should feel comfortable, even on formal occasions when you invite all the guests to come inside without taking off their fancy shoes. In this context, a rug separates your home from a restaurant.
Size-wise, the dining room rug should be large enough for the chairs to stay comfortably within the rug area even when you move them to sit or get up. That’s at least around 36’’ from the edge of the table. Like elsewhere in interior design – the larger the rug, the cozier the room.
While speaking of coziness, there’s a significant difference in style between a rectangular and a circular table. The former type mainly serves to design elongated dining rooms in elegant, more formal ways. Another clever use of this shape is separating two areas within an open-space layout, as the 3D render above shows.
A round table has a homey vibe that creates a more relaxed ambiance.
Picture a round wooden table in a room with airy curtains and some sunflowers on top.
Since they have no hard edges, circular tables provide a softer alternative. At the same time, they give you more styling freedom. For instance, if you want to make the room more rustic, you can combine it with a built-in banquette. For a modern look, go for metal, marble, and glass materials.
If you like styling the room differently all the time, you’ll prefer the versatility of a round table.
Some dining room storage staples include china cabinets, wine racks, bar carts, and console tables. Though these pieces bring a different mood to the room, they are all – much like a round dining table – bustling with styling potential. On top of that, they are also practical.
Take a bar cart, for example.
You can use it to serve drinks when hosting a party. Any other day, you can decorate it with a beautiful tall lamp and style it with a couple of table books. You can apply the same trick to console tables and even add a few closed cabinets underneath for storing dinner sets and glassware.
For showier pieces, such as fine china, use vintage cabinets or open bookshelves.
One of the rules for designing a dining room is to plan for lighting ahead of time. Ideally, you’ll have a centerpiece fixture hanging above the table for accent and practical reasons. However, to avoid designing a dark room, add a few lamps to the corners or line the walls with stylish sconces.
In terms of layout, there are many creative solutions to consider. Depending on the room size, there might be space for separate zones divided by console tables and bar carts. Alternatively, you can place a table in the corner of the room and add a banquette or pull up a cozy couch.
Then again, you can always go for a timeless table-at-the-center approach.
Designing a dining room is an excellent opportunity to hone your skills and perfect your style choices. It’s an opportunity to practice minimalism, restraint, and functionality, which is often more challenging than utilizing every empty spot in the room. The dining room has to breathe.
Don’t worry – you can make it cozy enough nevertheless.
For example, a gallery wall is a nice trick to ensure the room doesn’t feel empty without overcrowding it with furniture. Candles and flowers are a welcoming, homey touch as well. Whatever makes you feel comfy, hungry, and in the mood for conversation, its place is in the dining room.