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Design Inspo

Dining Room Design and Layout Tips That Interior Designers Love

Take your dining room from drab to fab by learning these helpful design tips guaranteed to keep your room looking fresh and inviting. 

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Creating a beautiful dining room that’s perfect for family meal times, dinner parties, or even simply dinner for one can seem like a tall order — especially if you’re working with a small space. If you’re struggling to find dining room decor motivation, we can help. 

We’ll give you practical dining room design ideas that you can easily create in any space and with your existing home decor. Get ready to transform your dining area into your favorite room in your home. 

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What Are the Main Elements of a Dining Room?

Every dining room has a few basic elements, even if you feel yours is more of a hodgepodge of inherited furniture or pressboard shelving. Let’s cover the essentials while giving you tips to redesign what you have into a space you love. 

Dining Table

The focal point of your dining room is often the dining table, which can be discouraging if you’re stuck with an old wood dining table that’s too big for your space or dining chairs that need a little TLC. While certain design styles lend themselves to mismatched seats and chipped paint (we’re looking at you, farmhouse dining room), if the rest of your home isn’t that style, it can be tricky to make those elements work. 

A few simple hacks can help: 

  • Do you have a table that’s dinged and chipped on top? Consider a tablecloth. Opt for textures like linen or heavier woven (machine washable) textiles. 
  • Have a round table and need more seating? Create a half-banquette by substituting booth-style seating with a small couch on one side and using your dining room chairs on the other. Be careful; your guests will likely fight over the banquette seats!

As hard as it might be, don’t fight the table you have. Instead, work around it if you don’t love it and draw attention to other elements of your dining space that you do love. 


If you have a larger dining space, you may have a sideboard. A once standard piece in every mid-century modern dining room, the sideboard is used less in modern dining rooms. However, that doesn’t mean they’re dated. 

You can bring your sideboard forward by turning it into a mini-bar or post-dinner coffee station. Changing the paint on a sideboard that has been passed down to you is an excellent way to level up your design while still hanging on to your heritage. 


The color palette for your dining room should draw you (and your guests) in and feel welcoming. Even if you’re a white wall purist, it’s easy to add pops of color and create a color scheme that is refreshing and unexpected. 

Since dining rooms are sometimes smaller or set inside an open space, consider using color to define the space. An accent dining room wall can cordon off the dining space from adjoining rooms. Small niches offer the perfect space for bright colors without the commitment required to paint an entire room. 

It’s also easy to add color by switching up your seat coverings if you have them. New and non-matching seat covers can also help play up a more eclectic style. 

Light Fixtures

We love this dramatic light fixture from Industry West; Designed in Spoak by KatMcKinney

Possibly one of the easiest and most budget-friendly ways to upstyle your dining room is by swapping out your lighting. This is also a renter-friendly solution in most cases, provided you keep your original dining room lighting in case you move. 

Natural light isn’t always an option in dining rooms, but you can create an atmosphere that gives off a warm, saffron glow by adding lighting that completely changes the style of the room. 

  • Formal dining rooms crave the clean, structured look of pendant lights hung perfectly over the table. 

Choosing a bold light fixture can also serve as a year-round centerpiece and focal point if you’d like to keep your table decor more lowkey. 


Dining room decorating ideas don’t often center on the flooring, but we think they absolutely should, especially if your style is more minimalist than maximalist. A minimalist room is never drab with the addition of a textured area rug beneath the table. The rug serves as another layering feature in the room without compromising the minimalist feel. 

A rug is a wonderful way to define a small dining room or one that shares a space with an adjacent living room or kitchen. You can create the illusion of a separate dining space by breaking up the flooring pattern between the rooms with a rug or runner. 

Focal Point

While a dining table may serve as the focal point of your room, it certainly doesn’t have to. We’ve discussed how you can switch the focus from the table to the lighting or even unexpected color and gallery walls, but for a more traditional space that highlights table decor as the focal point, you’ve got lots of options. 

Spoak's discovery feed is the perfect place to get inspiration, find new ideas, and get perspective for styling your table seasonally or in a more evergreen manner. There, you’ll find other creatives sharing their favorite things, from products to mood boards, color palettes, and beyond.

Wall Decor

The walls of your dining room can seem bare, especially if you simply can’t fit additional furniture into the space after your dining room table and dining chairs have filled the room. Small dining areas get a huge boost with the addition of a gallery wall or bead board-style wall paneling. 

Feel overwhelmed at the thought of arranging a handful of pictures (and making it look aesthetically pleasing)? Try Spoak’s interior design suite to mock up a gallery wall. Upload your pictures, play with the arrangement, and get the specs and inspiration you need to create a gallery wall that looks professionally planned. It’s a stress-free way to get a gallery wall you love in half the time. 

Tips for Shared Spaces

Modern dining rooms often share spaces with living rooms, kitchens, or home offices, but you can still make the space work multifunctionally.

  • Consider designating space on your bookshelves for a mini-bar or as table linen storage.
  • Position your living area furniture so that the shared space is more defined into two separate areas, an area for meal time and an area for relaxing. 
  • Create your own breakfast nook. If your home doesn’t have a dedicated dining area but does have space in the kitchen for a small table and two chairs, you’ve got the makings of a cozy breakfast nook. 

If your kitchen boasts a bar, you can add chairs and table settings to the space to designate it as your preferred mealtime space. 

Finding Inspiration

Your dining space is an important area in your home. Whether you host dinner parties or dine as a party of one, this space should make you comfortable and feel purposeful. If it doesn’t, then it looks like you have a fun design project on your hands!

Photo Credit: (Left) Socialite Family


91 Best Dining Room Decorating Ideas, Furniture, Designs, and Pictures | House Beautiful

The Heirloom Challenge: Working Inherited Furniture into Your Décor | WSJ

37 Farmhouse Design Ideas for Your Southern Home | Southern Living

How to Hang a Dining Room Chandelier at the Perfect Height | The Spruce

As design lovers (and humans), we all go through creative droughts. Spoak has the solution to help you get back into an imaginative space that helps you create spaces in your home that bring you joy. 

Date Posted
April 12, 2023



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