Fresh Dining Room Decorating Ideas

Use strong, simple silhouettes to provide the foundation for streamlined eating spaces that deliver high-style and easy-to-live-with maintenance.

By Jessica Brinkert Holtam

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Vivid Color Scheme: Orange + Blue
Add a Little Spice

    As an epicenter for entertaining family and friends, a dining room is the perfect place to strike up a lively conversation between color and pattern. A delicate tone-on-tone leaf motif, a pair of screen paintings, and fretwork-back chairs, reminiscent of detailing commonly found in Oriental architecture, lend this dining room a dramatic Asian flair. The high color contrast between the orange walls and the black picture frames is echoed by the style contrast between the zebra-print rug and the room's Asian-inspired elements.

Bench Basics

    Break free from the expected by adding a bench or two to the mix of seating pieces that surround a dining table. This setup uses backless, slipcovered benches to maintain a low, streamlined profile. The machine-washable slipcovers make cleaning up spills a cinch, and the long benches are a great way to squeeze in a few extra diners when necessary. A large canvas that's painted a striking chartreuse adds a modern edge to the fireplace and is an easy do-it-yourself art project.

Slide In

    Replicate the cozy ambiance of a restaurant booth in elegant fashion without the need for built-ins by sliding two tall-back love seats up to a table. Covered in a graphic geometric print, these matching pieces are as comfortable hosting morning coffee as they are a sophisticated dinner party.

Ready to Shine

    Make a dramatic statement with your choice of light fixture. An oversize shade sporting a solid (or patterned) fabric is a no-fail way to add modern pizzazz to even the humblest of dining areas. In this eating area a bold, boxy black shade converted with a hanging kit from a home center creates showstopping style on a budget.

Color Splash

    Create an eye-popping dining set that oozes contemporary coolness by pairing a white table with colorful chairs. This small seating area uses the classic silhouette of a Saarinen-look table to anchor a set of four flea market chairs. Updated with glossy green paint and patterned fabric, the chairs exude a modern attitude.

Slim & Sensational

    Without arms to take up space, slipper chairs are a smart pick for a tight squeeze. In this dining zone, white canvas slipcovers relax the chairs while providing a crisp, chic appearance. A striped rug delivers bright bands of subtle color underfoot, and a prism-style chandelier hangs with contemporary panache above.

Larger Than Life

    Enhance the presence of average-size windows by framing them with floor-to-ceiling drapery panels. Boldly patterned panels give this dining room a modern edge that's echoed by wicker chairs dipped in a cheerful lipstick red. A neutral sisal rug underfoot keeps the scheme from feeling overpowering.

Shape Up

    Make sitting down to eat a fun affair by incorporating playful shapes, colors, and motifs into your design. A banquette seat covered in orange vinyl plays off sunny walls in this breakfast spot. The rounded backs of classic Eames chairs repeat the curves of the banquette, while a dandelion-esque chandelier is reflected in the glossy white fiberglass table.

Cozy Corner

    Create an inviting spot for meals, homework sessions, and games by turning the corner of a room into a café-style booth. Hinged lids provide storage under the bench seating. A table with a pedestal base maximizes leg room. A see-through shelving unit installed behind one of the bench backs adds a sense of enclosure while still allowing light -- and the eye -- to travel through the space.

Great White

    Lay the foundation for a modern table setting by sticking with an all-white palette. Always crisp and fresh, white exudes a classic confidence that allows shapely furniture to shine. Here, molded plastic armchairs typically used on a patio are zipped up tight in chic slipcovers that show off their curvy figures to advantage. A see-through shade also reveals a tantalizing glimpse of a curvaceous chandelier.

Space Odyssey

    Combining one pedestal table with four aerodynamic chairs is a surefire way to create an out-of-this-world eating experience. A shimmering, fluted base of molded silver plastic anchors this open-plan dining area. See-through wire chairs echo the silver sheen, while a starburst chandelier crafted from capiz shells further illuminates the scene.

Creative Contrast

    Brash contrast in color, texture, and style is one of the secrets to achieving a contemporary design that's warm and inviting versus cool and stiff. In this dining space, black chairs are paired with a white table to create an eye-pleasing repetition of the contrast between the almost-black wood floors and white walls. Beyond color, the chairs tightly woven makeup also contrasts with the table's wide-plank painted wood. The eye is further entertained by the contrast between the chairs no-frills design and the romantic cutouts in the table.

All Square

    Looking for an inexpensive way to add pizzazz from the ground up? Try a painted floor treatment. Taped off in a diagonal grid and treated to a faux-bois black finish, white painted floorboards went from cottage to mod in a day in this dining room. Bright green walls and a midcentury-modern dinette updated with graphic seat cushions speak to the room's contemporary leanings, while ruffles lining the drapery panels soften the space's angular lines.

Rustic Elegance

    Tailor a dining room in masculine accents with chairs fitted in dress-shirt worthy fabrics. A plaid fabric does the trick in this dining space. An antler chandelier serves as the room's pièce de résistance, introducing a rustic element that neatly balances the refinement of the chairs.

Graphic Silhouette

    Punctuate a feature window by painting the trim black. In this dining room, the graphic outline of a pair of French doors divided by black mullions provides an anchor for large-scale square-print drapery panels. The pairing of light and dark is repeated in the center of the room where a light-color wood tabletop is supported by a black painted wood base, and a black iron chandelier is embellished with wooden balls strung into a garland.

Super Sized

    Playful use of scale is a key component in many successful contemporary spaces. An oversize metal drum shade combined with a chest-high buffet rise to the occasion in this dining area. Both pieces comfortably lower the room's tall ceilings while creating drama. A rug peppered with large-scale flowers also does its part to make the midsize table set live large.

See-Through Simplicity

    For a clean sweep, forgo the traditional rug under the dining room table in favor of letting gleaming hardwood floors shine. This open approach allows the eye to travel freely through this eating area. The result: a room that feels open, airy, and modern. Simple slipper chairs and a centerpiece of see-through glass bottles amplify the effect.


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