How to Decorate a Dining Room: The Major Elements in Dining Room Design


Tables, chairs, buffets, lighting, and curtains; they’re all elements of the dining room that need to be addressed. Learn what goes into choosing each one.

Dining rooms require as much thought and consideration as any other room in the house. There are plenty of things to keep in mind, such as style, mood, atmosphere and color, and these will vary from person to person. But there are some basic elements that remain the same in every dining room. Here are some tips for decorating with the major elements of the room.

Dining Room Tables

When choosing a dining room table there are certain things to keep in mind. What kind of shape suits the room and the diners best? A round table is great for conversation, while a rectangular table can often fit more people and is a bit more space efficient. Also, consider the material and finish that will work best. There are tons of options, so think about the desired style and mood that will be created.

A beautiful mahogany with a French polish is elegant and traditional, while a rustic pine is cozy and relaxed. Numerous woods, marble, glass, and other materials work well in dining room tables, so do some research and find out what’s out there before making a decision.

How to Choose a Dining Room Chair

Standard table height is 29” or 30” while standard seat height is 18”. It’s always best if the chair backs are higher than the table. (While stools and cube benches can look great at a dining room table, they’re not very practical for leaning back and relaxing during a long meal.) Be sure to test out chairs to make sure they’re comfortable. Many stores will allow patrons to take one home to test it out with the table. If the store allows, take advantage of this opportunity and try it out at home.

Dining Room Lighting and Chandeliers

Here’s the rule of thumb: hanging fixtures should be approximately one-third the length of the table and the bottom of the light should hang 30” to 34” above the table. Hanging fixtures have come a long way and there’s no reason why anyone has to have a traditional crystal chandelier.

Don’t be afraid to try something different. Pendant lights, modern fixtures, drum-style lights; wood, metal, plastic, resin; the options are endless. Don’t be afraid to mix and juxtapose styles. Don’t just limit the lighting to hanging fixtures either. Sconces and table lamps can add warmth to the room. Consider using dimmers to create mood lighting.

Buffet Tables and Sideboards

Buffet tables are incredibly useful in a dining room. They can store extra dishes and linens, and also provide a spot for table lamps and displays. A mirror or piece of art hung over a sideboard is a classic look. As buffets are usually higher than tables at 36”, they can add depth and visual interest to the room. They also work to balance the room. While most are closed and hide the items within, consider a unit that has open shelving. It’s an airier look and can show off dishes and linens instead of keeping them behind closed doors.

Window Treatments for Dining Rooms

Since dining rooms are full of hard surfaces, they’re a natural place to put flowing fabric curtains. While matching the curtains to the chair upholstery is an old tried and true recipe, be wary of making things too matchy-matchy. If the chair fabric is a pattern, consider pulling out a color and using it for the drapes (or vice versa). Or choose a complementary color. There are plenty of options, but whatever the decision, fabric drapes will add much-needed softness to the room.

Dining rooms are a relaxing room where families and friends gather together to enjoy great meals. Indulge the other senses by creating a room that is a relaxing retreat.

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