Styling & Design Tips For Your Dining Room

Choose a table that works in your space.  It may seem obvious yet it’s surprisingly common for well-meaning people to purchase a lovely table that is simply not the right scale for their dining area. Remember to consider clearance for dining chairs and general movement in the room. A good rule of thumb is to have 36″ around the table at minimum.

– Spruce Up Stylist, Fiona Kelly of Fiona Finds

The Dining Table

Pick a table with characteristics that work for your lifestyle. If you entertain frequently, an extension table might be a sensible option.  If you have a tight space, opt for either a round or oval table. You can fit a surprising amount of people around an oval table! If you need the ability to accommodate several chairs, a pedestal base would make sense since it leaves more flexibility in regards to chair placement.

The Light

Lighting is key in the dining room.  A chandelier or pendant over the table often becomes the focal piece in the room.  Choose one that gives plenty of light, 200 watts minimum is recommended. Be sure that the light fixture makes a statement but doesn’t overwhelm the room.  If you fall in love with a dim fixture you can add brightness with table lamps on your buffet or install wall sconces. Mood lighting can be nice in the dining room but for everyday meals brightness is preferable.

Dining Chairs

We’ve all been there. Squeezed into a dining room with chairs that are too big for the room. Choose chairs that complement the scale of the table and don’t overwhelm the room. Now that that’s out of the way let’s talk about basics. Standard seat height for a dining chair is 18″. Anything higher or lower will feel out of proportion with a standard dining table height (30″). The material you choose is based on personal preference and is often influenced by the style of your table. Upholstered chairs will add softness to the room but can be harder to keep clean. Wood and metal are both popular options. Get a set of matching chairs or mix and match if you please. Remember, armless chairs take up less space than armchairs and benches provide another great seating option.


Your tabletop choices really boil down to personal preference. How you set your table and with what is similar to choosing accessories for an outfit. You can change up the table setting easily and play with combinations since it’s not a fixed component in the room. All white dishware is popular and classic and can be used for both a casual or formal table setting. Colorful or patterned side plates and serving dishes will add flair to the table as can flatware and glassware.

Things to avoid

White or high pile rugs. Just don’t.  White will not conceal accidental spills and is tough to clean.  Food bits will get lost in high pile rugs which is kind of gross and bad news for everyone but your dog. High pile rugs also make moving chairs in and out from the table cumbersome. Avoid a precious surface for your dining table if it’s for everyday eating. There’s no sense being worried about something that gets used so frequently. Carrera marble may not be the best choice for a young family who loves spaghetti night, grape juice and red wine.

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