11 Different Types of Dining Room Styles (Ultimate Buying Guide)

Check out this selection of the finest dining room styles available right now. Our buying guide will help you narrow down your choices.

dining room

I. Dining Room Style Buying Guide

A. Elements of Style

It’s essential when considering an upgrade to your dining room style to think about several basic design elements. These form the foundation for the choices you’ll make. They’ll also serve as a gauge for choosing pieces and making decisions about theme, color, and style. We’ll discuss each one in detail.

1. Functionality

The dining room has evolved through the years which is reflected in the different types of styles. Traditionally, it has been a separate room, often divided by walls and a door from the rest of the ground floor. That is the dining room that your grandma had as you may recall. It is typical for older homes. Modern day houses often blur the line between living room and dining room.

Instead, the dining room often is part of an open area or great room. For the style, that means they will blend together as one overall design. But it also means that the functionality of the dining has evolved. You’ll see that reflected in the choice of furniture as well as style. The formality of the room may or may not still exist, depending on its place in the home.

Another essential aspect to consider involves entertaining. The person who has people over frequently will have different needs than the couple without children who occasionally entertain another couple. Today, more people dine out more than three times a week too. Also, the kitchen is taking over some of the dining room’s traditional roles.

2. Theme

An enduring theme underlying most styles is family. The dining room still holds onto its role as the family meeting area—even if it doesn’t mean a sit-down dinner every night. And the room, or at least the furniture, has gotten smaller with the shrinking size of the American family. With a smaller table, you can concentrate on other accessories and furniture to complement a style.

3. Color

Color and theme are integral parts of the dining room style. And they also affect your mood. Red, for example, offers an excellent choice for a dining room since it can stimulate your appetite and conversation among guests. As you consider its style, you should also think about the mood you want to create in your dining room.

4. Furniture

Furniture, of course, is a major investment in your dining room style. Tradition dictates a matching table and chairs. But today’s styles are all about bringing a personalized look to the table. Several styles thrive on a mix-and-match approach to furniture. In fact, a complete set of matching pieces makes a statement of formality and elegance of its own.

B. 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.

1. Formal

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

formal dining room

Source: Wayfair

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

  • Smaller table that is often round
  • Light or dark-colored wood
  • Soft lines
  • Family items like photographs often present
  • Mix-and-match pieces acceptable

traditional dining room

Source: Humble Abode

3. Farmhouse

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

farmhouse dining room

Source: Overstock

4. Cottage

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

  • 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

cottage dining room

Source: Furniture Depot

5. Beach

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

Beach Style dining room

Source: Wayfair

6. Global

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 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

global dining room

Source: BA Stores

7. Eclectic

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

eclectic dining table

Source: Amazon

8. Natural/Rustic

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

rustic dining room

Source: Log Cabin Rustics

9. Contemporary

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 a 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

contemporary dining room

Source: Hayneedle

10. Nightlife

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.

nightlife dining room

Source: Walmart

11. Modern/Minimalist

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 the 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 backdrop for a focal point
  • Lines either hard or soft
  • Materials include manmade ones like acrylic and chrome

modern dining room

Source: Furniture Cart

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.

  1. Wayfair
  2. Pier 1 Imports
  3. Ashley Homestore
  4. Crate & Barrel
  5. Amazon
  6. Overstock

III. Poll: Which Dining Room Style Do You Like Best?

Formal

Traditional

Farmhouse

Cottage

Beach

Global

Eclectic

Natural/Rustic

Contemporary

Nightlife

Modern/Minimalist

IV. More Details

1. Cost

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 works 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.

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