Learn how to create dining room color schemes that suit your dining, entertaining, and style preferences.

June 09, 2015

Dining rooms, whether a set-apart chamber or a pass-through area that opens to a kitchen or family room, require color schemes that advance a mood, help define the space, establish a style, and complement hues in neighboring rooms and hallways.

When selecting colors for your dining room, look to cherished collections, adjacent spaces, shelter magazines, fabric patterns, and paint-manufacturer websites for color-combination inspiration. Consider what times of day you'll be using the space and the ambiance you want to generate. Think about the size of the space and whether you need to use color to visually enlarge or cozy-up the room. Will you go monochromatic or use loads of vibrant colors?

Most importantly, pick a palette that harmonizes with elements you won't be replacing or refinishing, such as heirloom furnishings, dining area flooring, tiled backsplashes, fireplace mantels, and built-in cabinets.

Use Color to Set the Mood

dining room

If your tastes run to cocooning, elegant appointments, and after-dark soirees, opt for deep-tone walls, such as chocolate, navy, persimmon, cinnamon, and aubergine, set off by shiny white or cream woodwork. These rich hues work nicely with fine furnishings sporting dark, distressed, and gilded finishes, but be sure to include pale slipcovers, simple fabric patterns, and breezy window treatments to give this classic look a refreshingly modern lift.

If you like calming and reassuring spaces, paint your walls sandy beige or sky blue and splash in pistachio green accents. Stimulate appetites and conversation by incorporating extensive blocks of red on walls or drapery treatments. Expand and brighten small rooms by painting walls and ceilings off-white, pale pink, or buttercream. Try high-contrast color pairings, such as black and white or hot pink and orange, to create dynamic digs.

Once you've decided on which colors suit the mood you want to create, consider how you can use those hues to shape a distinct decorating style.

Style-Enhancing Color Schemes


Study dining rooms featuring your favorite style to help you develop an appropriate color scheme for your dining room.

Pining for posh? Use slightly different shades of a midtone blue on walls and chair fabrics, add a bench or banquette upholstered in plush charcoal gray fabric, and incorporate shiny black lacquer furniture finishes and black-and-white artworks to fashion a luxurious and lively dining room.

Fancying something French? Provencal-style fabrics provide a ready-made palette of cobalt blue, cherry reds, golden yellows, and burnished oranges that easily translate into country French dining rooms. Start with a patterned fabric, note the proportions of each color within the design, and repeat those proportions as you distribute color throughout the space. Want an even easier French translation? Take your color cue from a two-tone toile wallpaper or fabric. 

Thinking globally? Fuse spice-market hues, like cinnamon orange, saffron yellow, paprika red, and cardamom green with chocolate browns and bright turquoise to create a spirited dining room.

Remember that coloring a dining room goes beyond painting walls, choosing upholstery fabrics, and hanging draperies. Lay down a complementary area rug. Move in a painted chest. Arrange chromatic crockery on shelves. Dress tabletops with linens that further your scheme and theme. Hang a black-framed mirror or wildly abstract artworks. Dress your chandelier in fabulous fabric shades to complete the floor-to-ceiling color show. 

Get Dining Room Color Inspiration

Use My Color Finder to choose the perfect paint colors, before you even pick up a paint brush. See what colors will look like on your walls, with just a few mouse clicks.

Find color scheme inspiration in the Decorating Gallery. Browse hundreds of dining room photos to find looks you'll love.


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