How to Decorate a Dining Room

Like decorating any other room of your house, decorating a dining room is going to come with some restrictions. You probably don’t have an unlimited budget and a team of experts who will jump at your every command. The right strategy will allow you to do a lot with a little, especially if you don’t mind putting the work in yourself. 

Starting with what you have and figuring out how to best incorporate it into your desired final picture is the biggest hurdle. If you can allow yourself to see how things would best come together, you’ll be surprised how far a modest budget can take you. Much of the ambiance of any space comes from the small details. Work with your little embellishments and make your dining room chic. 

Build Around Your Anchor Piece

Your biggest piece of furniture is your most conspicuous. If your end table is slightly mismatched or if you have a lamp that doesn’t quite go with a set, it looks a little quirky and eclectic. If your largest piece of furniture is radically different from the rest of your decor, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.

In your dining room, the dining table is going to be your anchor piece. You can work with the table you have, keeping it exactly the way it is. If you’re handy or you know someone who is, you can refinish that table. Maybe you want a rustic, bare wood table or a lacquered black table. These are easy updates to an existing piece of furniture. 

You can also splurge on a new dining room table. If you’re trying to shift the aesthetic of your dining room, this may be your best option. When working with a limited budget, it may be wise to allocate most of that budget towards your table. The rest of your decor and embellishments are bound to be far less expensive.

Curate Wisely and Declutter

You don’t have to use every piece of dining room furniture and decor that you currently have - especially if you intend to add new furniture and decor. Go through what you’ve got and decide what still makes the cut. You may choose to keep decorative objects that can easily be refinished, repainted, or otherwise modified to fit your new aesthetic. Anything else should be sold, donated, recycled, or tossed out

Looking at what you have will often point you in the right direction if you’re unsure. It’s easy to choose a color palette or decor aesthetic by working with what you have. You’ll also spend a lot less in the process. You may want to replace a few things to steer your scheme in the right direction, but overall, this option is far cheaper than replacing everything and starting over. 

Make Your Color Palette and Establish Your Ratios

Once you know what you’re working with, it’s time to put together your color palette. Most interior decorators use something called the 60-30-10 rule. This means the main color, like the color of the walls, is 60% of the color in the space. The 30% comes from the color of your upholstery, like your couches or chairs. The 10% is your complementary or accent color. You get to choose which color is the boldest. 

For a dining room, most people are likely to select a very neutral tone for their 60 color. This is always a safe bet. It’s very easy to match other shades to neutral shades. It can be a little harder to find 30 and 10 shades for neon cyan walls. Note that there is a difference between hard and impossible. 

If you’d like to paint your walls a dusty mauve shade, utilize an ashy grey tone for your 30 color, and incorporate rose gold as your 10 color, this would work just as well. You can make your walls the most interesting shade and work with unique neutral tones to fill the rest of the space.

Coordinate Double Duty Items

If you also have an eat-in kitchen, you’ll have to consider the way you want to coordinate your kitchen with your dining room. If these areas look dramatically different, you might want to look at the way the things you’re carrying from one room to the other will translate. You may not be so keen on the idea of a very vintage kitchen and a very modern dining room if everything is going to clash. 

Cookware that meals can be served from, plates, cups, forks, and knives will need to have some common ground. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. If you want your kitchen and dining areas to have complementary (rather than matching) aesthetics, choose dinnerware and cookware that is neutral enough to play well in both spaces. 

If your dining room is visible from your kitchen, you might also want to consider how all decor and color palettes will transition from one room to another. It’s okay to provide some contrast, especially if you want a clear indication that both spaces are different. Just be mindful of the eye line. If you’re not sure how to best create a smooth “flow” from one area to the next, remember that less is more. When in doubt, a chic minimalist approach won’t let you down. 

Decide Where to Make Your Statement or Set Your Focal Point

Most rooms are built around visually appealing focal points. Unless you have a very eccentric ornate sculptural dining room table, you’ll want to pick another place to make your statement. If your dining room has a fireplace, this is an easy focal point. Dress up the mantel well with accents like candleholders and arrange the room so that most people sitting at the table will have a nice view of the fireplace. If you don’t, you can turn something else into your statement piece or focal point.

One of the easiest ways to insert a statement piece or focal point into your dining room is by installing a chandelier. If you don’t want to eat dinner in total darkness, you’re going to need a lighting fixture anyway. You might as well pick one that will serve two purposes. 

The actual design of the chandelier is what will make it a focal point. That design is completely at your discretion. Whatever looks beautiful and speaks to you is the design you should choose. The only thing you should keep in mind is the size of the chandelier and the way you should hang it. The wrong size chandelier at the wrong height won’t effectively serve as a focal point in the room.

As a general rule, the diameter of your chandelier should be about one third the diameter of your dining room table. If your table is rectangular, look for one third the width. A ten foot long dining room table will pair well with a chandelier that measures about three and a half feet from end to end. 

Chandeliers should be hung so that the bottom of the fixture is 30 to 36 inches above the table. Asymmetrical or highly ornate chandeliers may need to be hung just a tad bit higher in order to leave sufficient space for table centerpieces. 

Decide on Rugs and Lighting

If you intend to place a rug beneath your dining table, getting the size right is important. If the rug is too small, there are two ways this can be inconvenient. If it’s so small you can barely see it, there’s not much of a point in using a decorative rug. If it’s just a bit too small, the legs of the chairs will catch the perimeter of the carpet every time someone pushes their chair out. 

A dining room rug should be large enough that the dining chairs, when pushed out, have enough room to move backwards before they hit the edge of the carpet. Even if you have enough space, you’ll still want to secure the perimeter of the rug with carpet tape to prevent tripping or snagging. 

Accent lighting is the next piece of the puzzle. Decorative lighting fixtures add an ambiance to your dining space. You’ll need more than just your chandelier to help you avoid shadowy areas in your dining room. Wall sconces flanking windows, ornate mirrors, or large pieces of wall art will call attention to other features of the room while providing additional sources of light. 


Decorating a dining room doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Start with what you already have and build around it. Whom has a wide assortment of decorative pieces or accents you can use to spruce up your dining room and complement your existing pieces if you’re decorating on a budget. If you’re going for the full overhaul, we also have dining room furniture. We’re always here to help you make your space everything you’ve ever dreamed of. 


Shop now

You can use this element to add a quote, content...