Designer Dining Rooms and Decorating Tips

Although similar in function, dining rooms can vary greatly from home to home. Dining rooms may differ in formality, size and style. However, when decorating the dining room there are several basic design elements that remain the same. Here are some tips for decorating your dining area.
The Table – When selecting a dining room table, it’s important to determine what shape, size, material and style would work with the space, budget and your families’ lifestyle. For example, a round table is wonderful for conversation, but can’t accommodate as many guests as a large rectangular table. The table’s material (i.e. glass, hardwood, marble, etc.) should also be taken into account and will further communicate the room’s mood. An elegant mahogany dining table would be a good choice for a large, formal dining room, while a round glass table would be a nice choice for a smaller dining area because it would promote a sense of space. Each material has its pros and cons as well. Hardwood tables will be durable and long-lasting, glass will attract dust while marble, if not kept sealed, will stain.
 
In the formal dining room above, San Francisco-based designer Kendall Wilkinson anchors the room with an elegant oval dining table. The dark wood beautifully contrasts the room’s neutral color palette. The fabulous pearl mosaic wallpaper and glass chandelier again add a sense of formality to the room.

The Chairs – It is best if you choose a table first and then chairs {but, of course there is really no rule when it comes to design}. Ideally chair backs should be higher than the table. A standard table height is 29” or 30” and seat height is 18”. If possible, test a chair out for comfort before buying. A bench (without a back) can look great at a dining room table, but may not be relaxing enough for a long meal.
San Francisco-based, designer Kimberly Ayres selects crisp white Chinese Chippendale arm chairs with citrus cushions in the dining room above. The chair is one of my favorites because of the fretwork back, comfy cushion and ethnic flair. It looks like it is from Jonathan Adler, but I am not 100 sure.

The Lighting – Generally the bottom of a hanging fixture should hang 30” to 34” above the table. A traditional crystal chandelier is always elegant, but you may want to also consider other styles such as pendants, lanterns and modern fixtures in a variety of materials (i.e. wood, metal, plastic). Adding wall sconces and table lamps are a great way to layer the room’s lighting and create some drama. Also, consider putting all lights on dimmer switches so that you can adjust the room’s mood.
It is also fun to mix up styles as in the dining room above by designer Tami Wassong. The whimsical vintage chandelier is a wonderful juxtaposition to the traditional table and chairs. Wassong layers the room’s light by adding sconces flanking a mirror.

The Buffet – A buffet table, sideboard or storage console can be another beautiful design element in a dining room and a very practical one. Many store dishware, linens and table decor. In addition they provide a place to display fresh flowers, ceramic vases and table lamps. 
The stunning dining room above by New York-based Parlor Design (featured in this post), showcases a gorgeous custom credenza with metal inlay from the Parlor Design furniture collection. The silver floral wallpaper and ice blue upholstered chairs are exquisite.

For a classic look, consider hanging a mirror or piece of art above the buffet. In this lovely dining room, designer Billet Collins hangs a large rectangle mirror above a sideboard table. The hand painted landscape mural is a beautiful addition to the room.

 

The Rug – If you have a hard flooring surface and want to help define the dining area, adding an area rug is a good option. When selecting an area rug make sure when the chairs are pulled back to accommodate guests while seated, that the entire chair rests on the area rug. You want to avoid having the back legs on the hard surface and the front legs on the area rug.
In this beautiful dining room by California-based designer Erinn Valencich the black and white rug demands our attention and helps define the space. The rug’s pattern also echos the more refined black and white pattern in the drapes. I love the fact that this room is not matchy-matchy and that Valencich selects a chartreuse geometric fabric to cover the dining chairs.
Remember these are simply decorating tips, not rules. There is no right or wrong when it comes to interior design. So, have fun with it!
* images courtesy of Decorati and Marnie Rose Agency
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18 Responses to Designer Dining Rooms and Decorating Tips

  1. alamodeMaven April 1, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    My dining room is a much more casual space 'on purpose' to make it very useable and functional. I would say it is farmhouse glitz =) Do ya'll think I need a rug for this space? Would love feedback! xoxo Shelli
    http://www.alamodemaven.com/2011/02/dining-room-find.html

  2. Developing Designs March 14, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    Wonderful tips and inspiration. I love the space by Parlor Designs, that side board is stunning. xo

  3. Emily A. Clark March 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Such a great post! Thanks for the tips; the current state of my dining room is overwhelming me.

  4. Struggler March 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    Apart from my never-ending search for the right art, the lighting in my dining room is the worst part and very much on this year's to-do list. We have just 2, old-fashioned recessed lights, and they're not even over the table. Yuk!
    I love the rooms you showed, especially the last three.

  5. JeanetteS March 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    I just discovered your blog via Billet Collins and am taking-in all the advice you shared on dining rooms. My dilemma right now is taking an existing table & chairs I've owned for 20 years and updating the look.

    The photos you shared are very inspiring.

  6. billetcollins March 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Wonderful post! Stephen Drucker of House Beautiful just said that there were blogs that posted about accessory placement but not furniture placement (which can be difficult to do on a blog) Well done!

    Thanks so much for mentioning our studio, Billet Collins. As a decorative artist, I'd like to also add painted floors…a great way to add pattern to a room, place a table and chairs don't get snagged on it!

    Like The Zhush said, “a lot of great info here”! I'll be sharing this with our fans!

  7. CDS March 12, 2010 at 2:28 am #

    was that a coral chandelier?

  8. maureen @ The Inglenook Decor March 12, 2010 at 1:32 am #

    Amazing tips Cristin! I love it that you put dimensions & stuff. Those are very important stuff that a lot of people don't think about!

  9. The Zhush March 11, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Lots of great info here, especially the tip on hanging the chandelier! Can't imagine a dining room without a buffet (we have a huge extended family!)

  10. Laura Trevey March 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    Great tips! I love mixing up styles too…

  11. Erin Taylor March 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Oh I am smitten with the second and the last room. I love your blog I am following

  12. Bromeliad March 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Love the silvery wallpaper and the rugs.

  13. Velvet and Linen March 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Beautiful dining room inspiration Cristin, and great advice.
    I think I need to add these images and notes to my “dining room inspiration” file.
    Thank you!

    xo
    Brooke

  14. Maria Killam March 11, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    Well now that I'm moving I need to think about what my next dining table will look like because I'll need a new one. Loved this post!

  15. Susan March 10, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    I'm in love with diningroom image 5 and 6. The shimmery wallpaper is so very pretty. Not to mention the amazing detail in the molding and that unique buffet. I would love to eat a meal in this room… ahhh
    cheers
    Susan

  16. Centsational Girl March 10, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Oh my that pearlescent wallpaper had me at hello. I'm a sucker for all things shimmery. Great inspiration phtoso !

  17. Averill March 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Great post, Cristin! I'm definitely bookmarking this for when I (finally) get around to the dining roo!

  18. High-Heeled Foot in the door March 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Oh great tips! I must read for anyone trying to design their own space!

    Loved it plus you featured some of my favorite designers!