At the heart of it, there are literally thousands of different types of dining rooms. There are many variables, styles, colors, sizes, and features you have to choose from which results in so many variations that there really is no one type or specified number of types.
The point of this article is to outline your dining room options by methodically listing out all the variables that go into a dining room design. While space may seem simple (4 walls, floor, ceiling, and dining furniture), there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Table of Contents
I. 2 Main Types of Dining Rooms
There are two main types of dining rooms: Enclosed and open concept. 50 years ago, the open concept was rare. Today, it’s common. While some people prefer the enclosed, formal dining room, more and more people are opting for one dining area in an open concept living space that contains the kitchen, living room and dining area.
B. Open Concept
II. 18 Dining Room Styles
We’ve gathered a plethora of some of the most popular types of dining room styles. They range from the ultra-formal to the down-home country—and everything in between. By no means exhaustive, we hope our favorite styles inspire you to create your own special design.
The formal dining room in its original sense has become scarce in recent years. However, it’s still a style you can admire and replicate even if it isn’t a separate room. The room has elegant furniture that typically is an all matching set. It usually includes a rectangular table, but you will see a round or oval table too. They often are more elaborate in design with curves and inlays.
Dark wood for baseboards and trim is common because it has that feel of formality versus the more casual mood associated with lighter, warmer-colored woods. Because of its role, you may also find other accessories such as a china cabinet for storage of fine pieces and dishes reserved for special occasions and formal dining.
This style extends to other accessories such as glassware, flatware, and place settings. And like the table, everything matches to complement that sense of formality and elegance. You’ll often see classic lines with furniture that has sculptural details. Accessories like sconces or a crystal chandelier fit in well with this style. Don’t add a lot of accessories to avoid a cluttered look.
Elements of the Formal Style:
- Hard lines including a square or rectangular table
- Elegant furniture often elaborate in design
- Matching dining room set
- Accessories such as a sideboard or china cabinet
- Wall hangings include artwork rather than family photographs unless portraits
2. Traditional Family
Unlike the formal look, the traditional family style creates a more intimate setting with features such as a smaller table. It is often round as an unspoken reminder to encourage conversation and the sharing of ideas. You’ll see both dark and light-colored kinds of wood. The lines tend to be softer and often include curves to create a more casual and less formal atmosphere.
It may include accessories such as a china cabinet for displaying Mom’s wedding set and treasured heirloom pieces. The traditional family room often has an atmosphere about it that feels more personal and characteristic of the family. You may see some mix-and-match pieces that reflect the family rather than a formal sense of style.
Elements of the Traditional Family Style:
- A smaller table that is often round
- Light or dark-colored wood
- Soft lines
- Family items like photographs often present
- Mix-and-match pieces acceptable
The farmhouse style has a less formal atmosphere about it. Unlike the traditional family, it often functions strictly as some place to eat rather than for other uses. You’ll often see heavy almost rustic furniture that conveys a sense of stability and reliability. You’ll see pieces that are stained rather than painted to show the grain of the wood. Whites are the predominant color for painted pieces.
A quintessential piece of the farmhouse style is the bench at the family table instead of individual chairs along one side of the table. Sometimes, you’ll see a wing chair style for the bench. Color schemes often include muted tones of grays, blues, and greens. Pieces often have signs of wear which gives them a lived-in look. Vintage pieces are a common feature.
Materials are natural with cotton and linen excellent choices. The farmhouse dining room style conveys a sense of purpose and functionality. The features you see have a reason for being the dining room. You’ll often see natural elements like a vase of freshly cut flowers or a hanging basket with onions. The overall feel is casual with an inviting mood about it.
Elements of the Farmhouse Style:
- Heavy furniture bordering on rustic that often is stained to highlight wood grain
- Rectangular table with bench for larger tables
- Casual, open feel
- Furniture and accessories with signs of wear
The cottage style conveys a sense of hominess. It is inviting with softer colors and lines. Furniture is comfortable to encourage lingering and a long chat at the table. Dining room sets match, but you won’t see the captain chairs like you would with the formal style. It’s one of its design elements that create its welcoming atmosphere.
This style often includes repurposed pieces or found treasures that are often one-of-a-kind pieces. Natural elements like floral patterns are right at home with this style. You’ll also see design elements that exude coziness such as gingham patterns and well-worn furniture and fixtures. It adds to its casual and inviting feel.
The openness extends to other details such as dishes displayed on a shelf rather than tucked away in a cabinet. If a piece has meaning, you’ll find it with the cottage dining room style. Heirloom, garage sale finds, and new pieces all have their place.
Elements of the Cottage Style:
- The smaller table often round to encourage conversation
- Whites and other soft colors predominant to create a cozy environment
- Repurposed and mix-and-match pieces
- Open, airy feel
The beach or coastal style creates an atmosphere of lightheartedness and openness that brings a feeling of the sea to the dining room table. You’ll often see pieces that replicate the texture and age of wood such as you’d find on an old boat. Natural materials are predominant. You typically won’t see overt man-made materials like plastic unless it has a coastal theme.
Whites and blues are common colors of this style, but you’ll also see an array of grays and greens. Softer colors prevail, but the occasional pop from a navy blue or bright red adds interest. Furniture often conveys a style of being repurposed from a boat. Signs of wear even if engineered are welcome unlike the polished look of the formal dining room style.
Accessories often include those with nautical themes such as buoys, lobster traps, and oars. Patterns also carry a similar look with familiar motifs such as anchors and starfish. It is an excellent style for featuring any mix-and-match pieces, especially if they are unique. Sometimes these accessories are unexpected, but they work to unify the theme.
Elements of the Beach Style:
- Nautical theme patterns and accessories
- Repurposed and mix-and-match pieces
- Softer colors reminiscent of the sea with primary colors like navy blue or bright red
- Furniture that resembles elements of a boat or has signs of wear
The global dining room style combines elements of several other ones to achieve its unique look. In some ways, you can describe it as an eclectic style because it has pieces from a variety of cultures. You’ll find decorative pieces alongside richly colored tapestries. You may see unexpected accessories such as statues and carved wood pieces.
You can focus on a specific region or include a worldwide collection of pieces. Bold or ornately decorated pieces work well with this dining room style especially if you make them a focal point or feature. With this look, it’s often the accessories that are meant to stand out. Walls and floors are neutral to take the second stage to the real finds. That adds a unifying element to the style.
You should stick with authentic items rather than knickknacks and trinkets meant for the tourist trade. Opt for a hand-woven blanket that reflects the local culture. This style works because it creates its own conversation starters. They make the dining room less formal despite the presence of ornate furniture. And the style encourages lingering if just to examine the collection.
Elements of the Global Style:
- Collection of global looks or focus on a specific region
- Authentic pieces rather than knickknacks
- Bold colors and ornate pieces
The eclectic look is one of the less formal of the types of dining room styles. It sets its own rules with design elements and features that reflect your personality and interests. Mix-and-match is the order of the day. A dining room table in one style with chairs of different looks that don’t match is just fine. The same thing applies to the accessories and other design elements.
However, the style isn’t just a mishmash of things you collect over the years. A unifying theme or color ties the elements together to avoid a cluttered look. For example, you can include a table with a green top with a similarly colored area rug and a piece of artwork. When you follow this scheme, you give the style more of a polished look that says, “I meant to do that.”
This style has a work-in-progress feel about it that is casual and informal. There is no pretense here. Handmade pieces and flea market finds are welcome to give it a sense of individuality. Likewise, worn pieces give it a welcome lived-in look. You can also add repurposed pieces such as light fixtures from an old boat to add interest.
Elements of the Eclectic Style:
- Mix-and-match furniture pieces
- A unifying theme or color to tie it together
- Work-in-progress feel
- Handmade and flea market finds
Source: Zillow DigsTM
The natural or rustic style invokes the feeling of being close to nature. You’ll see it with furniture and accessories that are rough-hewn with prominent wood grain. Furniture is often heavier with a masculine feel to it. You’ll see hard lines with softer ones that follow natural elements. Woods are natural colors. You won’t see pieces with dark stains unless it is a color found in nature.
Accessories have an outdoor or woodsy theme. That applies to artwork, photographs, and light fixtures. You’ll see metal pieces in wrought iron and brushed metals. The rustic style often includes pieces associated with being outdoors like an oar hanging on the wall or taxidermy animal trophies. Creating this sense of nature can improve your mood and reduce stress.
You’ll see pieces that are from natural materials in their typical colors and ones that are man-made like artwork feature other color schemes. But overall, colors tend to be muted, following the cue of nature where stark hues are not the norm. A piece in a bold color will stand out as a focal point or feature.
Elements of the Rustic Style:
- Heavy often rough-hewn furniture that retains the character of the wood
- Natural colors often muted
- Accessories that convey a sense of the outdoors such as animal trophies
The contemporary dining room style is about the prevailing style that incorporates features that reflect updated ideas. Some people confuse it with the modern style simply because it looks new. Rather than new, it is a current look. It is not style for everyone because it doesn’t have the same sense of tradition or timelessness of other dining room style types.
This style often breaks the rules because it’s rewriting them. You may see stark departures from traditional design elements as it seeks to define its own character. You may see it from different shaped dining room tables to chairs with unexpected features to unusual accessories. The same thing applies to the materials and lines that you may see.
Like the formal dining room look, the contemporary style has a sense of cohesiveness that almost gives it a bit of formality too. But what you’ll also see are clever design elements that make it comfortable. You may think a chair style looks odd until you sit in it and enjoy the comfort of its ergonomic design. The contemporary style capitalizes on what’s new in design.
Elements of the Contemporary Style:
- Modern feel that lacks a sense of the traditional
- Unexpected design elements and features
- Lines that make a statement whether hard or soft
10. Nightlife/Pub Style
The main theme of the nightlife-style is that its purpose is to recreate the feeling of dining out at home. And one of its quintessential features is the high top table. It’s the type of furniture that isn’t typical of a dining room. Rather it’s something you may find in a rec room or wet bar. But this style brings it to the table in a unique way.
It’s an unexpected but welcome effect because it creates the effect of being out in the town. That lends a sense of fun and play to the dining experience because of the association with the high top table. That is probably one of its only unifying features. The rest of the style is about creating that pub atmosphere. You’ll see it running with this theme with artwork and posters.
You’ll find other features such as a wine rack, liquor cabinet, or sideboard for storing bar accessories. The overall design may follow a specific theme, or it may incorporate elements of the eclectic style with a collection of related items. Its purpose is to create a mood of casual lightheartedness like you’d experience going out for dinner or drinks.
Elements of the Nightlife Style:
- High top table, small or large
- Accessories and features that create a sense of being in a restaurant or bar
- Design elements of a theme or a mix-and-match flavor
- Glassware and bar accessories as part of the decor
- Worn pieces to give the sense of a neighborhood hangout.
The modern or minimalist dining room style is either one you’ll love or hate. It definitely is one that has its own niche. Like the contemporary look, the modern style makes its own rules with surprising additions or traditional features with unexpected designs. You may see a dining room table with a glass or metal top rather than the traditional wooden one.
One of the hallmarks of the modern style is its uncluttered look. You won’t find walls filled with artwork or shelves loaded with knickknacks and family photographs. The pieces that are present often have a sense of purpose as a feature. You may see a bold-colored accessory as a focal point. Walls often serve as a backdrop rather than a feature of themselves.
Lines are sleek whether they are hard or soft. You may even see a mixture of the two. Like the contemporary look, the modern style often has the cohesiveness of a unified theme and color scheme. Each piece belongs. The same sense of style applies to accessories such as modern art rather than a more traditional piece.
Elements of the Modern Style:
- Minimalistic design with no clutter
- Bold and primary colors welcome
- Walls often as a backdrop for a focal point
- Lines either hard or soft
- Materials include manmade ones like acrylic and chrome
12. Asian Style
III. Other Style Considerations for Dining Room Decor
1. Key Features
There are a lot of elements involved in creating the right mood and look for your dining room. You can take your dining room’s appearance in any direction. Whether you’d like to go with a traditional or modern look, there’s a lot of elements involved in bringing the look that you’ve envisioned for your dining room to life.
A. Floor Material and Color
You’ll want to go with a flooring option that really brings your dining room to life. Hardwood floors never fail to impress with their sleek and shine, and they’ll always pair nicely with a glass dining table in a room full of natural light.
However, if your dining room is partitioned off into space where the carpet from your living room extends onward to your dining room, there’s more than few ways to play with the color of your carpet so that it can be a part of your overall look.
For example, if you have beige or cream-colored carpet, you can pair it with a chic area rug in a red, black, or royal blue hue. The trimmings in this piece can match the color of your carpet and assist with pulling the look together.
A popular flooring option for dining rooms these days is hardwood with an area rug.
The furnishings in your dining room can account for the majority of your dining room’s overall impression. If you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings and a dining room that allows for a lot of natural light, you can always include statement pieces in your setup.
A crystal chandelier that hangs over your dining table can help with accomplishing a sophisticated look for your dining room. Also, the addition of furnishings such as statues that complement the color scheme of your dining room or a painting that you’re dying to hang can help as well. You can bring an elegant and classy feel to this vital space.
An impressive dining room table should be the piece that brings your dining room together. You can opt for a glass dining table, and other furnishings that will complement it or you can go for a wooden dining table, which can bring a traditional or rustic feel to your home.
It can be easy to neglect to consider this element of your dining room when you’re pulling pieces of the look together. However, paying careful attention to your ceilings can transform an average, small, family sized dining into an extravagant space designed to impress any guests that pull up a seat to the table.
Source: Castanes Architects
If you have high ceilings, try placing attractive sconces and paintings higher along the wall. It will make the room feel larger and more open and create a wide and vast impression for anyone that dines in your home.
D. Shelving and Storage
While it’s essential to have a place to display your best plate ware and teacup sets safely, you don’t have to tuck these precious items away in your kitchen.
Bring them into the gorgeous picture that you’re trying to create in your dining room. If your dining room already had brown accents, consider purchasing a beautiful, wooden china cabinet and placing it against the wall of your dining room.
You can turn this cabinet towards the dining table to help make your dining space feel like a room. A china cabinet made of red cherry wood that’s filled with your stylish plate ware can take the look of your dining room to the next level.
A spacious dining room can allow for plenty of stylish lighting options. If you have a dining room that offers you and your guests plenty of opportunities to be exposed to natural light. Don’t be afraid to place the center of your dining room, your dining table, in the pathway of the natural light in the room.
However, if you have a more modest sized dining room, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use lighting tricks to make it seem larger and more impressive. Consider placing a standing lamp in the corner of a room that will illuminate another flattering fixture that you’ve added to the room.
If you prefer hanging lights and a more industrial look, complement your exposed ceiling beams with pendant lights that hang above your dining table and other areas in the room.
F. Window Treatments
If you’re opting for a polished and modern look, dress up your windows if they face your dining room. Hang a set of blinds that complement the color scheme you’ve used in your dining room. If you prefer the impression that pair of thick, stylish curtains can make, that’s another way to bring the look of your dining room together.
2. Design Elements
To accomplish the look that you’re going for, whether it’s traditional, rustic, or contemporary, you’ll have to be careful in arranging the pieces in your dining room. You’ll want to make sure that you’re catering to these crucial design elements so that your dining room design isn’t dull or plain.
In the world of interior design, the more space you have, the better. However, if you don’t have much space, space can always be exaggerated or improvised in any room.
Source: Modern Builds Video
You can create space in your dining room by employing a few simple design tricks to trick the eye. You can start with nixing the traditional, long and rectangular dining table. An extra-large dining table can take up valuable space in your dining room. If you’re not much of a host and you need to save space, consider replacing your bulky dining table with a smaller, round table made of glass.
The addition of a glass dining table in your dining room can help complete the look of your dining room.
Take your dining room from dull and unimpressive to funky and interesting by adding a little texture to the picture. If you have hardwood floors all throughout your home, switch things up by slipping a gorgeous area rug underneath your dining room table.
Source: Natural Living Ideas.com
If you’d prefer that the sleek look of your hardwood floors went uninterrupted, consider adding a plant to your dining room to add different elements to the picture. A plant like a small potted cactus or ficus can add fresh colors to the room along with adding texture.
If you’d rather not buy a prickly plant like a cactus, a low maintenance orchid can achieve the same effect, and a vase filled with colorful flowers can definitely accomplish this as well.
Vertical lines can add height to a room that might be lacking in that area. The bold, dark lines of a picture frame can add a stylish element to your dining room. You can also accomplish this by including bold, vertical lines in your paint scheme for the room.
When colors work together throughout a room to paint the same picture, the result can be rewarding and stylish.
Pick a color that will be seen again and again throughout your dining room. This color should appear on curtains, accent rugs, dining room tables, and other prominent fixtures of the room. A bold pop of color will certainly make a statement, but neutral tones will always represent a more sophisticated and elegant look. If you’re willing to create a bold look throughout your dining room, add vases, rugs, or paintings that include colors like topaz, burgundy, orange, or pale green.
You’ll want to make sure to include a variety of shapes to keep things interesting in the design of your dining room. For example, a round dining room table that plays off a rectangular shaped rug and square shaped picture frame can add variance to the room. However, if you have fireplaces in the room, that can break up some of the shapes and textures throughout the space.
While you want to add variance to the room with new shapes, you’ll need to make sure that everything is cohesive and that the addition of a different shape doesn’t throw the room off.
3. Principals of Design
You’ll want to keep the principles of design in mind regardless of which theme you choose to follow for your dining room. Be sure to keep the following in mind when trying to decide how to decorate your dining room:
- Similarity and Contrast
It’s important to make sure that all of the elements in your dining room work together in harmony when you’re trying to put the right look together. You’ll have also employed the dominance/emphasis principle on pieces like dining you room table if you’ve succeeded in styling your dining room.
A color scheme can be the deciding factor in whether or not a room works. The use of bold colors in a dining room can allow for a classy feel and a sophisticated look if done correctly. However, colors that fall under the traditional umbrella can always create a feeling of warmth and unity in a room.
5. Decor Options
You can create nearly any feel for your dining room. There are plenty of options to choose from, and style choices like the art pieces that you choose and accents found throughout the room can contribute to whatever feel you’re going for.
Hang art that elevates your dining room. Don’t be shy when placing bold and colorful paintings around your dining space; you can only improve it. However, if you prefer a more conservative look, classic and softer paintings can provide a classy touch to your dining room. Art options include:
- Wall Art.
You can use plenty of fun objects as accent pieces in your dining room. You could order a handmade rug, or you could go for a unique look and step inside of an antique shop. A vintage wall clock, wall hanging, lamp, or rug can make your dining room pop. Your dining room can burst with originality if you turn everyday items into pieces that can bring your dining room together.
An easy and inexpensive way to dress up your dining room is to place a bouquet of flowers on the table. It could be several small bouquet or flower bowls or one large centerpiece. Either way, this is a must-have decor feature when hosting guests.
Your dining room could come in a variety of sizes. It goes without saying that you can do plenty with a large dining room with full sized windows and high ceilings. However, you can still do plenty with this space if you don’t have a lot of space to work with.
To capitalize on the space that you do have in your dining room, you’ll want to take advantage of some the elements of design mentioned above. Use a small, round dining table to help create a feeling of togetherness and to help with pulling the room together. Warm colors will suit a smaller dining room well, while neutral colors will work well for a dining room with high ceilings and an abundance of space.
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III. More Details
The primary costs are furniture and accessories. You can pay as little as $100 for a gently used dining room set or go over the top at $1,000 or more. You’ll pay more for a formal dining room set made of solid wood than the less elaborate one for the traditional family style. Opting for engineered woods instead can save you money while staying true to your style
The essential thing is to budget for the chairs. You’ll often see this furniture sold a la carte. The price of all the individual chairs may exceed that of the table. Also, pay attention to the type of chairs you purchase. A captain chair of the head of the table will cost more than a less formal style. Likewise, you may find alternative materials like metal cheaper than solid wood.
Some styles like the traditional family and eclectic often work in progress. Don’t feel as if you have to fill the room right away. You can spread out your costs over time by slowing add to its character. The beauty of these styles is that they reflect the living story of the people who use it. And you’ll write that book a chapter at a time.
2. Key Features
The key feature of the dining room style is the table and chairs. Other design elements depend on your space and budget. Your main consideration is choosing the right size table. Take into account the typical use. If you entertain or have family over to your home, consider an extendable table. And don’t forget the extra chairs.
Of all the rooms in the typical house, the dining room has probably seen some of the greatest changes. From the formal standalone room to its evolution as part of the kitchen or living room, its function has changed along with the styles that it embraces. In some households, the dining room does double duty as a workplace.
It’s essential to keep its overall use in mind when deciding on a style and its features. That can mean the difference between a formal and ornate dining room table and one that you use for making crafts. Given the significant investment, it behooves you to consider the entire role in which the dining room serves in your home.
II. Where to Buy Dining Room Pieces Online
Here are some great places to shop for dining room furniture and accessories. They offer a wide selection of styles at affordable prices.