4 FAQs to Consider Before Designing Your Dining Room
A formal dining room is a wonderful space for entertaining friends and extended family during special occasions and holidays. It can also be a great place to spend dinner together every night, catching up on the events of the day and enjoying a delicious meal. But if you want to transform your dining room or you're designing a dining room for the first time, the project can be just as overwhelming as it is exciting! Lifestyle Furniture is here to help with answers to these dining room design FAQs.
What's the right size and shape for my dining table?
Three things matter most when you're choosing a dining table size and shape: the size of the room, how many people you want to seat, and your personal style. To get it right, first, measure the space. Most designers recommend keeping 30-36 inches of clear space around the perimeter of the table so people can easily navigate the room, even when people are seated at the table. In a room that is ten feet wide, for example, the table should be between four and five feet; if the room is 15 feet wide, the table can be between nine and ten feet across without making the room feel cramped.
Next, consider the number of place settings you want at the table. Do you want space for a family of four or ten-plus for dinner parties and holidays? Star design pros say a general rule of thumb is to allow two feet per diner, this gives everyone plenty of elbow room. So to seat four people around a rectangular dining room table, shop for one that’s at least four feet long so people can sit two by two.
However, the math does change for a square or circular table. Here, gather at 90° intervals: one per side at a square table, and at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions around a circular table. Look for a table that's at least three feet across to comfortably sit four. If you’re hosting large dinners, a rectangular table can efficiently seat more people and make conversation easy. Circular and square dining room tables work best for smaller groups.
Should dining room tables and chairs match?
Modern dining room furniture styles allow for a lot of flexibility and creative expression compared to traditional dining rooms of decades past. That means dining tables and chairs don't have to match if you don't want them to! You might fall in love with a set of dining room chairs from one collection and a beautiful dining table with accompanying chairs that aren't to your taste. As long as you love the final look and everyone can sit comfortably, there is no wrong answer.
Here are some tips for choosing a separate dining room chair set and dining table that complement each other:
- Look for matching materials: Match dark woods to dark woods, bronze to bronze, and upholstery colors to accent colors. Looking for these shared elements creates unity. Even an eclectic mix of chairs can cohesively work together as long as they coordinate.
- Pull from the same style family: Your dining room will work best with a cohesive thread running through every piece. This might be ornate table and chair legs, a rustic vibe, or a sleek minimalist design style.
- Keep the distance from chair seat to tabletop the same: For a bold design, you can mix and match dining room chairs into a complete set. Just make sure to carefully measure the seat height against the height of the table. Not only do you want every guest to be comfortable as they eat and drink, but you also don't want some people to tower over others because of seat height.
When you visit a furniture showroom, you'll see tables and chairs arranged together in matching sets. Interior pros thoughtfully pair terrific options for the benefit of shoppers. Their taste is generally impeccable! Trust the experts, especially if you need a new table and chair quickly or if you’re simply undecided. Showroom experts can also help you explore more adventurous options.
What's the best kind of storage for a dining room?
The best types of storage for a dining room tend to be either decorative or discrete. If you have the space, you might have a beautiful accent cabinet in the middle of a wall, displaying dishes, wine, or novelty items to generate discussion. For this option, cabinets with glass doors or open shelves are an excellent choice, especially with built-in shelf light.
But if you don't have room or you want your dining room table to take center stage, opt for closed cabinets and drawers with narrow profiles. These furniture pieces very efficiently store dishes, tablecloths, and decor while ensuring there's plenty of space for dining, chatting, and walking around the space. Ceiling-high cabinets can store a lot of goods without a large footprint. Alternatively, if you just need a bit of storage, consider a lower sideboard cabinet. Consider a mirror over the cabinet to make your room feel bigger and brighter. P.S. This is a great spot for seasonal decor.
How should I light my dining room?
Beautiful lighting is essential for a dining room. We recommend adding multiple sources of light to give the space an effervescent glow, warm lighting without harsh shadows, or bright lights for casual family dinners. Incorporate some or all of these sources of light:
- A chandelier or hanging light fixture: This provides general light and ambiance. The fixture should hang approximately three feet above the surface of the table. For square, circular, or short rectangular tables, a centralized chandelier is a perfect fit. For longer rectangular tables, look for longer, linear fixtures that give every place setting light.
- Multiple recessed lights: If you have a large dining room, a grid or perimeter of recessed lighting can make all the difference (especially with dimmers). It offers more control over the room's lighting, so you can have plenty of general lighting for dining, brighter lighting for cleanup, and no light if you want the chandelier to be the focus.
- Lamps near your storage cabinets or opposite windows: If you have storage in your dining room, like a sideboard cabinet, task lighting can make hosting and preparing more convenient. Large dining rooms also benefit from having lamps opposite any windows so you can balance the light in the room.
Designing your new dining room is both a science and an art. Keep the measurements and guiding principles we discussed in mind, but don't be afraid to let your own preferences and design flare shine. At Lifestyle Furniture, we love helping people design interior spaces they'll love for years to come. Browse our blog for even more advice, or browse through our dining room furniture for inspiration!