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Room By Room

Dust Off the Cobwebs—15 Dining Room Ideas to Get Your Space Party-Ready

Words by Morgan Goldberg
a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Katie Rosenfeld; Photo by Read McKendree

Time to dust off the dining room cobwebs.

The holidays are fast approaching and (with a bit of luck) for the first time since 2019, they may not happen in isolation. With nearly three years of social distancing under our belts, there’s a chance your dining table hasn’t gotten much action recently—other than maybe doubling as a communal desk or homework station. Whether you’re ready for a full renovation or a quick upgrade, our Experts know exactly how to get your space dinner party-ready.

Installing an intricate ceiling or a bold fireplace makes for a dramatic transformation, while incorporating a statement chandelier or sculptural chairs is an easy way to subtly yet significantly improve your aesthetic. No matter how big (or small) a change you’re seeking, our Experts have the tips for refreshing your dining room and impressing your guests.

Paint the Walls Black

a dining room with a white table surrounded by wooden chairs

Photo courtesy of Ashe Leandro.

Though painting your walls a dark hue might seem too daring a move, this moody dining room by New York City-based interior design firm Ashe Leandro proves that it’s well worth the risk. A coat of soft, velvety black paint creates a cozy, cocoon-like atmosphere that’s ideal for dinner parties and family meals alike.

Try Checkerboard Floors

a dining room table with chairs and vases on it

Design by Augusta Hoffman; Photo by Tim Lenz

Walls aren’t the only surface you can paint—floors can also be flipped with a can or two. Augusta Hoffman Studio turned a former den into a luxurious dining room in this 1990s Bridgehampton farmhouse by painting a classic diamond checkerboard pattern onto the hardwood floor. It has all the charm of tile with none of the permanence or expense.

Embrace a Textile Mix

a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Brandon Schubert; Photo by Paul Massey

Add warmth to your dining room by embracing a variety of textiles like Brandon Schubert did in this 1890s Arts and Crafts house in London. He juxtaposed Johannes Andersen chairs in a nubby, multicolored Pierre Frey fabric with a rich flatweave rug for an inviting vibe. The gray-green wall paneling, which was inspired by the home’s history, adds additional coziness.

Add Wall Paneling

a dining room with a table and chairs

Photo courtesy of Buchanan Studio

Speaking of wall paneling, it’s a great tool for infusing a plain dining room with dimension and character. Husband and wife team Buchanan Studio expertly employed this tactic in a London mews house, where they used reclaimed tongue-and-groove paneling throughout the main level. Paired with salvaged rafters, the detailing looks original to the home.

Install a Spherical Pendant

a dining room with a table and chairs

Photo courtesy of DISC Interiors

If you can only update one element in your dining room, let it be the lighting. A statement fixture like this oversized Capiz shell pendant from Restoration Hardware can completely transform a space, offering a new and improved focal point. It steals the show in this 1928 Spanish-style Los Angeles abode by DISC Interiors.

Opt for Sculptural Chairs

a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Studio Giancarlo Valle; Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson

Dining chairs are a super easy swap that can totally change the feel of your dining room. Consider opting for a sculptural set like the Fin Chairs by Studio Giancarlo Valle, which combine a stunning bent mahogany back with moss-hued velvet seats. Pulled up to a stunning carved white onyx table, they’re the highlight of this NoHo apartment.

Install a Statement Ceiling

a dining room with a table and chairs

Photo courtesy of Hadley Wiggins

If renovating is an option, install a statement ceiling like the one in the dining room of this early 1900s Long Island residence by Hadley Wiggins. The feature draws the eye upward, accentuating the height of the room and making it feel airier. Down below, Carl Bergsten chairs mingle with a Melchiorre Bega mid-century Italian table and Zoffany wallpaper for a moody, nature-inspired look.

Focus on the Fireplace

a dining room with a fireplace and a table

Design by Jersey Ice Cream; Photo by Nicole Franzen

A dining room fireplace always deserves some love. Jersey Ice Cream Co. understood the assignment in this centuries-old Catskill Mountains estate, where the historic hearth is the centerpiece of this rustic space. It’s complemented by vintage furniture from the Brimfield Flea Market.

Put Up Wallpaper

a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Katie Rosenfeld; Photo by Read McKendree

There’s no reason not to give patterned walls a chance. If you’re still not convinced, look at Katie Rosenfeld’s gorgeous wallpaper-filled Massachusetts 1926 Tudor. In her dining room, she mixes a handful of prints in gold and brown tones for a welcoming vibe that feels tailor-made for Thanksgiving.

Create a Theme

a dining room with a large painting on the wall

Design by M.Elle Design; Photo by Shade Degges

For a cohesive look that’ll wow your guests, stick to a subtle theme like M.Elle Design did in this Brentwood, Los Angeles dining room. The forest motif is tastefully carried throughout with a bronze branch chandelier from Cox London, a gnarled canopy triptych by Charles Gaines, and tree trunk-like molded oak chairs from Ruemmler.

Find the Perfect Match

a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Nina Farmer; Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson

While finding a compelling dining set may be a challenge, we love when a table and chairs seem to be cut from the same cloth. Nina Farmer made that happen in an historic Connecticut stone house by matching the tones of wood of the antique chairs and custom-made dining table. The result is flawless.

Display All Your Books

a dining room table with chairs and a bookshelf

Photo courtesy of Patrick McGrath

Bring the coziness of a library into your dining room by displaying your book collection for all to see. This works well with a simple shelving unit or clever built-ins, like those in Patrick McGrath and Reinaldo Leandro’s dreamy Hamptons retreat. The designer-architect couple installed the floor-to-ceiling shelves beside their Marcel Breuer chairs and farm table.

Incorporate Antiques

a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Rita Konig; Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna

The best way to make a dining room feel lived in is with items that have already been well-used. Rita Konig proves it in this enchanting Hudson Valley kitchen, which is filled with pre-loved treasures like a wrought-iron hanging light found at a U.K. antiques fair and a vintage Portuguese tablecloth.

Choose a Round Table

a dining room with a table and chairs

Photo courtesy of Robert Stilin

Encourage conversation and conviviality with a round dining table like Robert Stilin did in his East Hampton home. The table, a custom oak and bronze masterpiece, is surrounded by a set of Charles Dudouyt chairs from the 1940s and sits below an industrial vintage R.E. Steele chandelier.

Invest in Armrests

a dining room with a table and chairs

Design by Zoë Feldman; Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Make your guests comfortable with dining chairs that have armrests. Zoë Feldman did that in the update of a D.C. townhome, where she drew inspiration from the client’s home country of Portugal. Europeans famously know how to dine and relax, so just keep arms in mind next time you’re shopping for dining chairs.


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