60 Dining Room Ideas That Will Make You Swear Off TV Dinners

The dining room—out of all the rooms in our home—is a stage for convening. It’s a place where we can gather with our families, host our besties, or simply indulge in takeout for one. And with entertainment back in a major way this year, the dining room is once again in the spotlight, from the table itself to the place settings to the over-the-top dishes you choose to prepare (Baked Alaska, anyone)?

In the past, dining rooms have gotten a bad rap as overly formal—or even chilly—venues of upright seats, elbow-free surfaces, and impeccably behaved children. No more: Interior designers are rethinking these spaces as ones of personal expression where virtually anything goes. Just ask ELLE DECOR A-list designer Garrett Hunter, who recently overhauled a Hollywood Hills modern for his parents with a dining room awash in funky ’70s-inflected hues and silhouettes. White Rocking Chair

60 Dining Room Ideas That Will Make You Swear Off TV Dinners

But a few stylistic parameters remain in place, Hunter tells us. “There are three factors to create a great dining room: comfortable seating, design devices to create a union or a core, and adjustable lighting,” he says. In the case of his parents’ home, a glorious, painterly pendant by Jeffrey Cheung provides light and a focal point above a “core” consisting of an architectural table by Ettore Sottsass surrounded by snug chairs by Afra and Tobia Scarpa, with their Pringle-shaped backs and upholstered seats.

Speaking of seating,“there are no rules to what type of seat one can use in a dining room. The important factor is to consider consistent seat heights in a dining room,” Hunter—who once paired a Børge Mogensen wingback sofa with two Christopher Kreiling dining chairs in his own breakfast nook—says. “It worked well because that sofa sits tall, and it created an intimate dining experience within an open area.”

“One rule is always test out your dining chairs!” says designer Jennifer Bunsa. “If you’re buying online, order one as a tester to see if it’s comfortable. Or, if you are able to visit showrooms and test in person, that’s ideal.” As for the dining table, “make sure you’re thinking through the materiality,” she continues. “For example, if you have a young and messy family, be sure the wood is treated correctly, or go with a stone top that’s more durable.”

Even if your dining room is less of a “room” and more of a dedicated space, cranny, or couch (hey, we won’t judge), there are ways to set up your space to have a discrete dining area—just don’t let your ambition get the better of you. “A mistake that small-space dwellers make is trying to pack multiple zones into one. In small spaces, it works best to create a hybridized zone,” Hunter says. Bunsa agrees. In fact, in a recent Miami project, she incorporated bookshelves in the dining room as a device to break up the house’s open plan, but also to add visual interest. “You can do something fun with a built-in and can introduce color or pattern, turning a small space into a design moment,” she tells us.

Just as there are infinite styles of cuisines and parties to host in them, there are countless ways to configure and decorate your dining room. Have an open-plan kitchen? Consider the banquette. Hoping to make your room the center of attention? Go for a dramatic light fixture. Looking to bring in nature? Consider a scenic mural, says Bunsa. Wherever you choose to break bread, these dining room ideas are recipes for great taste.

Designer Jennifer Bunsa had to seriously rethink this Miami house,(it once boasted trompe l'oeil mural of a leopard and cherubs) and the dining room was no exception. To delineate the awkward space, she reached a genius solution: turn it into a hybrid library. “The space is central to the house and is a main pass through, so the bookcase helps define it as the dining space in bigger room,” Bunsa tells us. “A lot of times, the formal dining room is not a space people use that much, so we were also providing an additional function.”

This Connecticut house—designed by architect Andrew Bartolotta along with interior design duo Jesse Parris-Lamb— may have been inspired by Industrial Revolution-era factories, but Dickensian it ain’t. Here in the dining room, the floor-to-ceiling operable windows open onto views of the coastline while an Italian travertine table is surrounded by five bentwood chairs, clad in a gray leather. Please, sir, can we have some more?

ELLE DECOR A-List designer Michelle R. Smith brought her casual-yet-elegant taste to the Manhattan home of Simon Huck (you’ll recognize him as a regular on the Kardashians) and Phil Riportella. In the dining room, that meant rich timber furnishings (we love the Giancarlo Valle chairs) that stand out against their subdued vanilla backdrop. A swirling green painting by Ammon Rost introduces a swath of color. “I wanted this house to feel like an exquisitely tailored Loro Piana coat,” the designer says. “We used all these cashmere colors, like cream and white, along with the oak.”

This combined dining area and kitchen, designed by Georgia Tappert Howe, manages to pack in plenty of style and plenty of storage. The custom leather banquette and marble kitchen island each contain drawers and cupboards—perfect for this on-the-go Brooklyn family. “You have to be mindful about how much storage you need,” Howe advises.

This airy California home, designed by Noz Nozawa, is a rarity in that it is surrounded by regal redwood trees. “They love all the nature right outside their doors,” the designer explains of the clients, “and had the thought of doing a custom live-edge dining table, so we found a felled piece of wood that would be perfect.”

Inspiration was quite literally underfoot in this Hudson Valley home: decorator Miles Redd drew the entire color palette from the hues of the rug. This seating vignette, though, is a nod to the homeowner’s love of antiques. Here, Biedermeier chairs pull up to a 19th-century table. And, in our humble opinion, you can never have a flower arrangement that’s too big.

Everything is allegedly big in Texas and judging by the ceiling heights of this Dallas home, the dictum holds true. Designer Chad Dorsey played with the dining room’s staggering scale by installing an array of white pendants that shower the table. The move adds drama, while ensuring the seating area doesn’t get lost in the home’s larger-than-life proportions.

With views this exquisite, interiors need to take a backseat—a fact designer Nicole Hollis expertly navigated in this jaw-dropping dessert escape. Here, the dining area features a custom table surrounded by Jean-Michel Frank and little else, save for a vinelike chandelier by Jeff Zimmerman—an otherworldly touch for an out-of-this-world backdrop.

Now this is how you nail the modern farmhouse look. For this country estate, designer David Netto swapped chintz and antiques for more modern, cozier touches. In the dining room, that included Charlotte Perriand woven seats, and an antique Italian table surrounded by simple wood chairs.

Think in 3D, if you’re looking for an artful dining room moment. This breakfast nook in a Manhattan residence by Lucy Doswell is traversed by an art installation by artist Bradley Sabin. “They’re all handmade and painted flowers, and he likes to come up with the installation pattern and the exact placement,” Doswell tells us.

When designer Jamie Bush got to the interiors of this Montecito, California residence, he got back to basics: primary colors. The dining room nods to the theme, with its golden rod-hued swivel chairs, and the pop of red on the side table.

You can never have too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to entertaining space. Here in a Park City, Utah ski retreat, the design firm Electric Bowery added a comfortable banquette for informal family meals next to the more formal dining area. To create cohesion, an open bookshelf serves as a room divider.

We love how ELLE DECOR A-list firm Retrouvius limited the palette of this distinctly-modern Parisian dining room to just two colors: cream and gold. Our favorite part? the cabinet doors (at right) were made from a salvaged parquet floor.

There are few walls in the Brooklyn loft belonging to Orior creative director Ciáran McGuigan, which is why the furniture designer created distinct groupings of furniture to delineate different functions. “We knew we wanted to have as much big, open space as possible,” he tells us. Here, between an original timber column and a mint-green credenza, he tucked in an Orior table and surrounded it with electric blue chairs—a hue that occurs throughout the apartment.

Hey, we hear you: you might prefer all-white walls to a maximalist look. But before you banish bold flourishes entirely, check out this elegant space by Toronto designer Sam Sacks. Here, she introduced pattern via the striped chairs and rug, and color via a crimson antique tapestry.

At first blush, this dining room may resemble an ultra-formal space reserved for dinners with your great aunt. But upon further inspection, you’ll appreciate how fashionista Marc Valeanu pushed the envelope with color and shape. Observe: the celery-green wealls; a barely-there black chandelier by Tommaso Barbi; a canary yellow table by Konstantin Grcic; and a cheeky flower sconce by Garouste & Bonetti.

Nothing says “grand” like a chandelier. And though this Beverly Hills interior leans more trad, designer Gary McBournie made sure to enliven it with spring-fresh colors and welcoming furnishings, like the sherbet-hued dining chairs by Soane Britain. “I’m always aiming to put things together in a mix of high and low that doesn’t look like you’re decorating for a rich person or a museum,” he tells us. Cheers to that!

There’s no competing with the beauty of Mother Nature so why compete? We love the effortless, thrown-together look of this outdoor vignette on the Greek island of Patmos. Bring the look to your own patio with a rustic, farmhouse-style table and woven chairs to match. Oh, and don’t forget the sauvignon blanc!

No view? No problem! A scenic wallpaper in your dining room can replicate an al-fresco look, even if your urban pad faces a derelict parking lot. We’re turning to Augusta Hoffman for inspiration. Here, in her elegant New York abode, she set a scene with a hand-painted mural by James Mobley and coordinating olive-green wainscoting.

This funky Swiss home might not exactly have towers and turrets, but it was indeed built for Italian royalty in the 1970s. This informal dining area features a curvaceous vinyl-clad banquette and grass-green carpet, among other throwback features—ideas you can pluck from in your own home if the all-over look doesn’t appeal. But for its current resident, Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, the extra-ness of this home is part of its charm: “If today’s kings and queens could build their own castles, perhaps they would do it like that,” he says.

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. 

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60 Dining Room Ideas That Will Make You Swear Off TV Dinners

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