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Dining Room Decorating Tips

Updated on June 9, 2018

It's certainly acceptable to eat dinner in front of the television once in a while but you should definitely consider spiffing up the dining room and using it as was originally intended. Clear out the clutter, dust off the furniture and turn it into a warm and inviting space to enjoy good food, family and friends.

Maybe the aversion to dining rooms dates back to childhood memories. The formality and untouchable furnishings made it strictly off-limits with the exception of holidays and special occasions. It's the same as a formal living room that's rarely used.

Turn your overly formal dining room into a comfortable and useful space.
Turn your overly formal dining room into a comfortable and useful space. | Source

Create a Welcoming Environment

Transform your under utilized dining room into a comfortable space more like an eat-in kitchen or breakfast nook. Make the most of it by creating a casual, yet stylish environment without all the frills. Nix the crystal chandelier, imported linens and fussy furnishings. Stick with practical furniture, warm tones and easy care fabrics that will suit both dinner soirees or weeknight family meals.

This charming dining room has a casual French Country flair.
This charming dining room has a casual French Country flair. | Source

Room Design and Space Allowances

Before buying furniture and accessories, grab a pencil and paper to create a functional floor plan. Take into account traffic patterns and circulation with pieces that will work within the room's dimensions. A sense of flow is a critical aspect for dining rooms.

Chairs require an approximate depth of 20 inches to fit comfortably under the table. Allow at least 16 inches from the table when the chair is pushed back. Each chair should have 24 inches of side-to-side clearance to accommodate seated guests. In order to create ease of movement allow at least 46 inches between the table's edge and adjacent furniture or walls.

A rough floor plan will give you a general idea which furniture pieces you need and where to place them.
A rough floor plan will give you a general idea which furniture pieces you need and where to place them. | Source

Furniture Selection

You have two choices regarding furniture selection: You can take your time curating a collection of unique furniture pieces for a highly personalized space. Or, you can take the easy route and purchase a coordinated dining set. The latter is a budget-friendly and quick way to get furniture in place and move on to accessorizing.

Space Savers

You don't necessarily need a huge table to accommodate additional dinner guests. Rather than trying to squeeze a massive harvest table into a tight space, consider purchasing one with drop or removable leaves. After dinner, simply remove the extension leaves or drop the sides down to conserve valuable space.

Dining room tables that include a leaf will give you additional room for hosting dinner parties and holiday meals.
Dining room tables that include a leaf will give you additional room for hosting dinner parties and holiday meals. | Source

For close quarters, a sideboard is a great substitute for a china cabinet and buffet. It works equally well for both storage and serving. However, let's say you inherited a china hutch that doesn't even come close to fitting in your dining room. Place it in a hallway or common area so you can still store your table linens, silver and dinnerware. Accessorize visible shelves with books and decorative items to create a transitional furniture piece. It could also function as pantry storage in your kitchen.

Oversize china cabinets work well for storage in other areas of the house.
Oversize china cabinets work well for storage in other areas of the house. | Source

Quality vs. Budget

Solid wood furniture can last a lifetime and is often handed down to future generations. The investment is worth the price if you plan on using these quality pieces on a daily basis. For occasional use, consider wood laminate or veneer.

Laminate furniture is made up of synthetic material or tightly bonded layers of wood. The surface often features a printed grain pattern to mimic solid wood. Veneer is an extremely thin layer of hardwood glued to particle board or MDF (medium density fiberboard) construction. Although this type of furniture is much less expensive, it lacks the durability and stability of solid wood.

Inexpensive dining furniture.
Inexpensive dining furniture. | Source

Decorative Elements

Once you've selected and arranged your furniture it’s time to decorate. Pick an appetizing shade of paint or wallpaper, coordinating window treatments and a rug to bring the room to life. Don’t forget artwork and lighting.

Accent lighting (such as recessed lighting, wall sconces or even candles) creates the perfect mood for evening dinners. A decorative chandelier or pendants centered over the table draws the eye up and adds personality to the space. Install dimmers on overhead lighting to adjust the brightness.

Accessories add personality to a nondescript dining room.
Accessories add personality to a nondescript dining room. | Source

Finishing Touches

Choose a statement centerpiece that won't interfere with sight lines across the table. Convert your buffet into a bar by adding decanters, a drink shaker, wine rack and ice bucket. When placed on a lacquer or silver tray these utilitarian items become stylish design elements. Green up your dining room with a grouping of small succulents or a potted tree to soften the room's hard edges and add an organic feel to the space.

This grouping of succulents makes a perfect centerpiece.
This grouping of succulents makes a perfect centerpiece. | Source

Tablecloths, chargers, placemats and trivets are decorative additions for special occasions and everyday meals. They add color and texture to the room while protecting the table's finish with a layer of insulation between serving dishes and the furniture's surface.

Placemats protect your table from heat and moisture.
Placemats protect your table from heat and moisture. | Source

More Dining Room Design Tips

© 2012 lindacee

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    • lindacee profile image
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      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Oakfurniture, yes, with open concept homes, separate dining rooms are becoming a thing of the past. I am happy to say my last house (new construction) did have a distinct dining room. Trends seem to go in cycles. Hopefully the dining room will not vanish forever!

    • Oakfurnituresol profile image

      Oakfurnituresol 5 years ago from Bristol

      Ah yes that's the case in the UK too, with separate dining rooms disappearing altogether! what a shame, as with less space you can have less dinner parties, gatherings and therefore less fun:-) good luck with starting the dining room revolution:-)

    • lindacee profile image
      Author

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Oakfurnituresol, thank you so much for the compliments. This was a fun Hub to write. Sadly, at least in the US, dining rooms are often only used for special occasions. I am starting a grassroots movement to change that! ;) So glad you enjoyed my Hub!

    • Oakfurnituresol profile image

      Oakfurnituresol 5 years ago from Bristol

      This is a useful and easy to follow hub, love the video as well and it definitely raises some interesting points that you might overlook when refurbishing a dining room - such as the ideal chandelier height or the many different functions of a dining area!

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