Posted by Dan O'Malley in Home Design

Formal or informal, your home’s dining area is a space for togetherness, conversation, celebration, and refreshment.

Make your dining room’s design suit any meal and memorable event with these easy-to-follow decorating tips!

Breakfast Area With Natural Décor

How to Design Your Dining Room

There are really 4 simple steps to designing a dining room:

  1. Choose Versatile Colors and Themes
  2. Pick a Table to Fit Everyone and Fit the Space
  3. Make the Space Inviting With Décor
  4. Invest in Festive Dining Accessories

With these 4 basics, you’ll be able to both use your dining space all year long as well as dress it up for fancy occasions!

Choose Versatile Colors and Themes

If your dining area is more on the informal side and shares a common space with other rooms like an open-concept kitchen and living room area, carry through the colors and design styles used in these other rooms.

Neutral-Colored Dining Area

Neutral colors provide a universal backdrop that can flex to fit any special occasion décor, and they keep the space free from other design-related distractions.

If you opt for a bolder hue, choose a dining room paint color that will still work with seasonal decorations and not be offensive or uninviting.

When choosing a theme, rely on houseplants (fake or real), a simple centerpiece, and subtle additional décor such as an area rug, curtains, etc.

Dining Room With Dark Wood and Houseplants

Pick a Table to Fit Everyone and Fit the Space

Consider the shape of the room, the amount of people you’d ideally like to seat all at once, and how much wiggle room is left after any additional décor is added to the space, such as a buffet or cabinet.

Dining Room Table Scaled to Fit Space

Take measurements of your dining space, then compare that to dimensions of tables at your favorite décor stores.

You’ll also want to measure chairs to combine the style and size you’re looking for with the table you choose. Give everyone enough elbow and leg room, but keep an intimate arrangement.

Formal Dining Room With Wallpaper

Make the Space Inviting With Décor

From symmetry to combinations of textures and colors, there is so much you can do to decorate a dining space.

Orchid Dining Table Décor

One common favorite dining room décor statement is mixed seating: combine a bench on one side of the table with a matching set of 4 chairs on the other sides.

For extra comfort you could add cloth chairs and/or pillows, but consider irreparable meal messes. The more functional this space can be while still showcasing a stunning design, the better.

For a larger, formal dining area: display large wall art and 1–2 metallic accents and go for a more elevated and sophisticated overall look.

Luxurious Formal Dining Room Design

For a less formal dining area connected to other rooms in your home: bring in elements to play off the other colors and designs in the shared space. Keep things more casual and cozy.

Intimate Family Dining Area

Check out Zahira Cury of D.Signers’ video with helpful tips for any dining room size to still achieve the look you’re after in your dining room.

“If your space is reduced, you can add some flowers or some greenery in a small and simple container just to freshen up the dining area a little,” Zahira says.

Invest in Festive Dining Accessories

For a fresh, spring or summer feel, weave in blossoming branches, natural accents, and maybe a pop of color.

Spring-Themed Dining Room

Make your dining space a warm, welcome retreat in fall and winter with attractive, yet subtle pieces, like a fall candle with garland or some metallic tree accents.

Dining Table With Metallic Tree Decorations

While kids will appreciate the colorful and vibrant birthday decorations, adult birthdays and anniversaries should be celebrated with beautiful, fresh flowers and candlesticks that match the colors of the room.

White and Gold Dining Room

How to Design a Dining Room Table

Don’t go crazy with tabletop décor, since it will make for a crowded and unusable table space, but definitely add a centerpiece and a few smaller elements that echo the other themes in your room.

Dining Room With Minimal Table Decorations

For the holiday season, we shared some of our go-to place setting tips on our 2021 Facebook Live Holiday Baking Show!

Dining Room Place Setting Tips

We suggest starting with a tablecloth to not only protect your kitchen table, but also to help make clean-up time easier at the end of the evening, as you can throw it directly into your washer.

Next, spend some time choosing what table decor you think would look best in your space and coordinate with your table setting!

The traditional table setting includes a dinner plate, a small plate for salads and appetizers, a dinner fork, a salad fork, a knife, and a spoon; however, depending on what you are serving, you can pick and choose what dining ware is needed for your table, in whatever style best fits you and your home.

Our first table setting is our farmhouse-inspired spread:

Farmhouse-Inspired Table Setting
  1. First, pick a natural wood placemat to bring a warm and earthy tone to the table and add some dimension to each place setting.
  2. Next, incorporate some color with this classic yellow checkerboard pattern for this design which you can see here in the napkin. You can see here that we chose a simple white plate and silver flatware so that the napkin and wooden placemat catch your eye first.
  3. Finish with a copper mug, perfect for adults to enjoy a cold beverage in and helping to bring this whole table setting together.

Our second table setting is a more unique and modern look for those who are looking for something different this holiday season:

Modern Table Setting
  1. Pick out a textured placemat to bring an added layer to your spread.
  2. Opt for a wow factor with black plates. It will help for the patterned napkin stand out even more.
  3. Fold the napkin in an intricate way to continue the stunning presentation.
  4. Choose modern, gold flatware to add an accent color along with the simple short glass finish up this fun setting.

Lastly, we have our classic and traditional setting. You may even have some family heirlooms you can use for these special occasions!

Classic and Traditional Table Setting
  1. Select a simple, solid color placemat and an elegant white napkin.
  2. Draw attention with a beautiful, floral printed plate, paired with classic silver flatware and a stunning textured glass.
  3. Go matchy-matchy, and mark this special occasion by getting out your complete dish set for a cohesive look.
Open Dining Area

Once your dining room is freshly decorated (or redecorated), invite family, friends, and even your new neighbors over to tour your beautiful home and stay for a homecooked meal!

You can really test your dining room aesthetic with your first dinner party and a group of your favorite people.


Dan O'Malley
Dan O'Malley


Dan O’Malley is the Vice President of Product Development for M/I Homes.With over 30 years of expertise in residential architecture and design, Dan has been overseeing the product needs of the company's 16 divisions located throughout the Midwest, Southeast, Nashville and Texas for the past 12 years. Before joining M/I Homes, he was a partner in the Chicago office of BSB Design, a national residential architectural firm, for 14 years. Dan is an expert in all aspects of single-family and multifamily design and has received several awards for his successful projects. He is also a popular speaker at various industry events, including the International Builder’s Show, Midwest Builder’s Show, and Multi-Housing World.

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