Home Dining Room Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
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Essential Dining Room Furnishings & Design Tips For Every Space



The first thing to mention is that if you have a specific design style in mind or in place at home already, separate Style Guides for different decors can be found here. Each guide will outline furniture, lighting, and accents for the type of decorating approach you’ve chosen from Mid-Century Modern, to French, to Mediterranean, to Industrial and many many more.


Beyond specific styles, there is an abundance of dining room guidance to share when crafting an intriguing and comfortable space. Follow the outline below to get your guests talking while your personality shines in this unique space, all while maintaining the ideal balance between creativity and functionality.

Dining Room


  • Formal dinner parties
  • Large group conversations
  • Casual gatherings
  • Seating requirements
  • Intimate conversations

It will ultimately serve you well in the end by thinking about how your dining rooms will be used before you start design and layout. Try to answer the prompt questions above. Once decided, the fun begins!



This may seem obvious, but the focal point of your dining room should be the main table. Guests are then easily drawn to the center of attention and naturally feel comfortable sitting and conversing with other guests. Everything else in the room is going to complement this focal point. This leads us to...

The Main Table

With so many options to choose from when selecting your dining table, how on earth do you decide? Once your function has been established, you can take into account other important factors, such as shape, size, and material.


TIPS: ​​

  • Extendable tables- with a removable leaf, or center section, gives you the smaller sized option for day-to-day use while being ready for larger gatherings in a moment's notice.
  • Square tables- if you have the space to spare, opt for a square table. This shape is much more conducive for an all-inclusive conversation among guests as those on the normal rectangular ends of a large table are not left out.
  • Correct size- allow for three feet of space between the dining table and any surrounding walls or other furnishings. This gives people enough space to easily get in and out of their chairs.
  • Spaciousness- appropriately sized furniture is paramount for the allotted space. Trying to cram a large table into a smaller area is going to shrink the size of the room. But don’t go too tiny either or you risk making the room appear smaller. To test your layout before purchasing, tape-out the table and chair dimensions on the floor.

Is Your Dining Table Revealing Your Inner Secrets?

Breakfast Counter

Having your meals at the breakfast bar denotes an ‘A’ type personality; on the go, moving and grooving!  You appreciate a good meal but don’t usually have the time to consume a full breakfast (lunch or dinner). You exhibit aggressive and enterprising strengths and enjoy multitasking. This usually means reading or watching the latest updates at the same time as dining.

Lazy Susan

A Lazy Susan present on your dining table tells us that you love to cook and entertain. You enjoy throwing dinner parties and celebrate just about any occasion with a large home-cooked meal.


Traditional, honoring heritage, and being the one in-charge are some of a rectangular table owner's personality traits. Family comes first. You do enjoy entertaining guests as well. Remember: long, rectangular tables maximize the number of seats but also this type of layout creates a distinctly different conversation pattern.


Circular is about equality and spreading the love around in all your many different types of relationships. You enjoy talking to everyone at a gathering, thus having a round dining table allows you to easily interact with each person. It promotes effortless conversation flow. This shape is also perfect for small spaces, allowing flexibility in the number of guests.



A square dining table might tell us that you have a tight knit group of friends and trust these people over all others. You don’t have many gatherings, especially not large ones. Square is also an efficient shape for small spaces: apartments, condos, and nook-type areas. 

Additional Dining Room Furnishings

Chairs- Look and feel are the two main factors here. Style and comfort. A surprising tip not many people consider but comes from top designers is mixing and matching different chairs around your dining table. If you’ve ever been to a dinner party with uncomfortable chairs you know how important a cushioned seat is. If you want your guests to stay awhile, give them a good sitting support base.

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Area Rug- This is another under used tactic, but adding an area rug to your dining area can make all the aesthetic difference. One, it helps to ‘ground’ the space. Meaning it holds the area and separates it from other spaces. If you have a wood floor and a wood table this is an even more essential item to add so your design result is not too cold or bare looking. An area rug is also a great way to bring in a pop of color and design element to the dining area.


  • Look for low-pile to avoid any tripping issues.
  • Place a thin felt or rubber pad underneath to keep it in place.
  • Make sure it is large enough to encompass the table and chairs.
  • Search for durability, such as an indoor/outdoor rug
  • For ethically and sustainably made, a rug certified by GoodWeave will guarantee these values.​​

Storage Space- ​​Family china, large wine collection, seasonal decor? Place it all in a storage space right in the dining room. A credenza, cabinet, corner bar cart, or hutch works well and keeps you from trudging back and forth to the kitchen. It can also come in as a handy surface to place food during meals after the main course is over but guests linger over wine and maybe second helpings.

Lights- Great lighting is the frosting on your dining room cake. You can set the tone with dimmer lights, wall sconces for an ambient mood lighting, and of course a fixture, chandelier or other, above the table is ideal to highlight the gorgeous meal you’ve prepared.



  • Scale- quite important, make sure the size of your overhead light is a good fit for the table.
  • Height- designers advise hanging a chandelier a 3ft’ height above the table or 6ft’ from the floor. It might feel low at first but trust the process, it works!
  • Size- not too small, not too large. A general rule of thumb is to choose a fixture that covers about one quarter to one third the length of the table.
  • Layers of light- overhead plus floor lamps of wall sconces add intimacy to the room.

SUMMARY- Personality

Your dining room is a place for you to present your creative side and make a statement. Think about a look and feel that evokes conversation in your guests. Let it represent your personality. All the tools of paint color, artwork, and accessories are at your disposal when decorating. It can be a showplace to display your interests or crafts. Share what brings you joy and makes you feel comfortable. This allows you as a host to be at ease and focus on your guests. TIP: Remember the option of reusing or repurposing beloved pieces from second-hand stores or within your own family’s inventory. Affordable Pre-Loved Furniture In San Francisco.


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