The holidays are just around the corner, read what Reed & Acanthus and other pros have to say about your dining room.
Creating the perfect home means designing spaces that are both beautiful and functional. While a formal dining room sounds lovely in theory, it could be a waste of space in practice. If it’s too formal, you run the risk of never actually using the room.
We recently connected with a few incredible designers to find out their top tips for creating a beautiful dining room you’ll actually want to use. And, according to Monika Nessbach, founder and chief interior designer of Designbar, it’s not just practical to create an unstuffy dining room—your guests will love it, too.
“Unstuffiness thrives on unexpected delights that keep guests engaged and ensure your dining room is a feast for the senses,” she says.
Invest in a Focal Piece and Highlight It
Designers will often tell you to pick one "hero piece" for a room, a true conversation starter to anchor the rest of the space. And in your dining room, the biggest focal piece should always be your dining table.
“Create unique moments with the main focal piece: the table,” the team at Lucas Browning Design says. Whether this is done by investing in a brand new table or always topping your existing one with gorgeous accents, the first way to create a beautiful dining room is with a stunning and welcoming place to dine.
Forget the Dining Room Sets
One thing that often creates an instantly stuffy vibe is a room full of perfectly matched furniture and fabrics. According to Nessbach, the fastest way to relax your dining room is to embrace your own unique tastes.
“Mix and match chairs for a playful twist,” Nessbach says. “Imagine an array of chairs that complement each other like a symphony of flavors in a gourmet meal.”
Katharine Kelly Rhudy, owner and principal designer of Reed & Acanthus, agrees, calling matching furniture sets a thing of the past.
“Trade in those uncomfortable Chippendale chairs for those with upholstered seats and backs for a more transitional look and mix with an antique table for visual interest,” she suggests.
Balance the Room With Great Lighting
Lighting plans are key for designing any room, but the Lucas Browning Design team says this is especially true for dining rooms. They highly suggest balancing a room with lighting. Hanging pendants are especially perfect for creating a soft, ambient light, but the key is to avoid anything harsh or overly bright.
If your house came with a builder-grade chandelier or fixture installed, Rhudy says it probably has to go. Along with pendant lights, she also suggests swapping it out for a statement globe.
“Pair with wall sconces, overhead, or cove lighting to create layers of light,” says Rhudy. “And always use dimmers."
Don't Be Afraid of Color
Dinner with a view is a welcome treat, and there’s no reason your dining room can’t offer the same experience—even if you’re not overlooking a vast panorama. The team at Lucas Browning Design suggests incorporating your home’s natural surroundings into your decor plan. This is especially true if you’re blessed with big, bright windows.
“Bring in colors that compliment the view but stick with a neutral palette as the base,” they suggest.
Nessbach agrees that a neutral palette layered with lush colors is one definitive way to design a beautiful, relaxed dining room. Along with pairing your bolder pops of color with earth neutrals, Nessbach also suggests taking a look at color psychology.
“Did you know the color orange evokes hunger?” she says. “With today’s earthy variations of orange, there is a plethora you can accomplish. The result? A palette that's as delicious as a fusion dish and as refreshing as a sparkling spritzer.”
Once your base is set, Nessbach says it’s time to add texture. This is often not considered in dining rooms as much as in other places, like living rooms and bedrooms, but it’s just as important.
“As humans, we are tactile people,” she says. “Think plush velvets, raw linens, and rustic jute.”
Set the Scene for a Dinner Party
In terms of wonderful places to dine, it’s not usually the formal aspects that feel special—it’s all the added touches that create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Nessbach says this can be best achieved at home by incorporating art and decor that makes you smile and music you and your guests can connect with.
“Think artful wall hangings or a quirky centerpiece that sparks conversation,” she says. “Curate a playlist that syncs seamlessly with the vibe you're creating.”