These Dining Room Ideas Are Really All You Need to Know, Since You Asked

Dining room with a bar cart
credit: Sanford Creative

A dining room is that versatile place in a home that can serve many purposes. Perhaps it's where you eat your daily meals, or maybe your dining room table is generally set up as a work or homework station. Or, it's possible that your dining room only comes to life for holidays or celebrations.

No matter how you're using it, ideally it should be comfortable, usable, and, of course, aesthetically pleasing. So, whether you're setting up this space for the first time or ready for a total refresh, here are some dining room ideas to consider.

Getting Started

Modern dining room with red wall and artwork
credit: Stephen Paul

When creating your ideal dining room, think about how you're going to use the space. Will it be exclusively for eating, or also for working? Do you want to be able to sit at your dining room table comfortably and lounge? Do you only plan to use it when you have guests over?

Once you're clear on the answers to these questions, you can start honing in on dining room ideas that are best for you.

You can make it a multipurpose room by adding a variety of furniture, like a cozy lounge chair and side table (depending on your space or layout of your home), or simply keep it as an eating area with a table, some dining chairs, and storage, like a buffet or sideboard. You'll also want to consider your overall design style; whether you'd like to paint your walls or go with wallpaper; lighting choices; and general decor possibilities, such as artwork and rugs. All of this will factor into creating the vibe that is just right for you.

Dining Room Styles

Before you start designing the room, consider the style you want to express. A few popular ideas include:

Farmhouse: To get the farmhouse dining room look, think rustic. Go for more neutral colors, feel free to mix metals, finishes, and materials, display sleek lines, and keep it cozy and casual. If you can, try to add a vintage farmhouse table for the full effect.

Bohemian: To capture a bohemian dining room style, let your plants or chairs be the pops of color, and keep your walls neutral. Copper lighting, layered rugs, and throw cushions can also help you achieve the boho dining room of your dreams. If you're daring, you might consider adding bright botanical wallpaper or other eye-catching patterns.

Midcentury: Simple, clean lines make up most midcentury modern dining rooms, where craftsmanship and sleek design collide. Think Serge Mouille's iconic 1958 three-arm ceiling lamp or an Eames molded fiberglass armchair.

Scandinavian: Natural materials are king in the Scandinavian dining room, so consider a pendant light made with rattan or bamboo (like this IKEA fave), teamed up with white walls, a wood table, and lots of cozy sheepskin rugs thrown over chairs and benches for a warm feeling of hygge.

Industrial: If you love the look and feel of raw materials (think glass, brick, wood, and metal), industrial-style decor is something to consider. Function over aesthetic is the name of the game, and lucky for you, many designs in this style are pleasing to the eye. These industrial chandeliers and pendant lights are proof.

Dining Room Lighting Options

A modern dining room
credit: Codi Ann Backman

Getting the lighting just right is important, and ideally it comes from more than one source. Some dining room lighting ideas include the following:

Chandelier or pendant lighting: This type of overhead lighting should be centered over your table and hang about 30 inches above it. If you want a farmhouse or rustic feel, go for an industrial or wrought-iron pendant light. For a more elegant look, try a chandelier.

Wall sconce: These fix to the walls with light that typically shines upward. There are many different wall sconces to choose from, including picture lights and candle sconces (like this gorgeous brass DIY). A word of caution: Aside from that DIY, you'll need an electrician to install this type of lighting.

Flush-mount lighting: These lights are usually dome-shaped and mounted flush to the ceiling.

Semi-flush mount lighting: Like flush-mount lighting, this type goes on your ceiling. The base of the light will hang right below your ceiling.

Recessed or track lighting: Recessed and track lighting are more utilitarian in nature. They do the job of lighting a room and work with just about every style.

Lamps: A floor lamp could add a bit more light to your room and make it feel a little homier, if you have the space.

Dining Room Colors

A dark green dining room
credit: Codi Ann Backman

Oftentimes, the dining room is where people experiment with color — although true minimalists tend to keep things neutral. Some trending dining room colors include:

White: This is a classic choice and works well for a minimalist, midcentury modern, traditional, or Scandinavian vibe. People love white dining rooms because the blank canvas allows them to add pops of color with furniture, decor, and plants, and it gives the space a calming, serene feel.

Green: Go for green in the dining room if you want a Parisian-chic vibe, a regal look, or a bohemian touch. If you like midcentury modern, dark-green walls go well with rattan or cane furniture.

Blue: Blue can add a bit of elegance to your dining room and work with metallic accents. Go for a lighter, more vibrant blue for a playful vibe, or a darker, navy blue for a more royal setting.

Dining Room Storage Options

If you have space for storage in your dining room, you're in luck with several picture-perfect choices. While serving a functional purpose, dining room storage pieces also offer an opportunity to show off your design style.

China cabinet: A china cabinet will give your space a traditional feel and display your most prized possessions.

Bar cart: A bar cart is ideal if you have a small space, and/or you have an impressive array of liquor and barware you want to display.

Buffet, credenza, or sideboard: Let your guests serve themselves on a buffet table, credenza, or sideboard, which could include some lamps and picture frames to make it really stand out.

A bench with storage underneath: If you have a window in your dining room, a bench for both additional seating and storage could make guests feel even more comfortable and give you a place to store your china, sterling silver, serving platters, and candlesticks.

Dining Room Furniture and Decor

Glass dining room table with blue rug
credit: Stephen Paul

You have many choices when it comes to dining room furniture. Start with the dining room table. If you have a narrow space or a larger dining room, you could buy a rectangular or elongated oval table. On the other hand, round and square tables are better for smaller dining rooms. You can take the middle-of-the-road approach and get a table with extendable leaves, so you have the option to host larger dinner parties.

In terms of where to place your table, make sure it goes wherever people can easily get in and out of their chairs; you don't want them crammed up against a wall. You can align the table with a wall or another piece of furniture in order to center it. To make the dining area more distinct, consider adding a rug underneath the table.

For the chairs, you can have one uniform look, or you can mix and match styles or have different chairs at the heads of the table and the sides. That way, it won't have as much of a boardroom feel. If you have the room, consider adding a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, buffet, china cabinet, bar cart, or a bench with storage.

Where to Shop

Dining room and dining room light
credit: Stephen Paul

As it says on the website, DWR makes authentic modern design accessible. So if you've been dreaming about adding a Saarinen oval dining table or a Thonet chair, this is the place to shop.

You can get just about everything you need (for your entire home) at Target. A major standout is the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection, especially if you're going for a farmhouse/rustic vibe in your dining room. Check out the table runners, utensils, and dinnerware.

Well-made, design-inspired furniture and decor that won't break the bank. From accessories, to serving ware, to big-ticket items (like dining tables, chairs, and bars), this is one-stop shopping.

Wayfair offers thousands upon thousands of home goods and furniture, so you can put into action all of your dining room design ideas. If you're looking for a great sideboard or buffet, it has options in just about every style.

IKEA: a classic choice for the budget-minded. (Make sure you have a helping hand to put together the furniture!) We've said it before, but this IKEA pendant lamp shows up in so many dining rooms. It's just perfect.

Pier 1 offers a mix of traditional and modern dining room options. You'll be sure to find what you need in-store or online.


Kylie Ora Lobell

Kylie Ora Lobell

Kylie Ora Lobell is a lifestyle and home writer for publications like Home Depot's blog, the Los Angeles Times, and Cuteness.