Designing Your Dining Room – Everything You Need to Know

SHOP THIS LOOK: Echo Park Dining

Many great memories are made around dining tables, especially this time of year, and they’ll only be made better if your dining room design is comfortable and functional!

No matter your room size or design style, there are simple guidelines that will make designing your dining room a painless process.  It will also help it be the best it can be – for everyday dining and for entertaining your guests.

Here’s the breakdown:


Do you need one?

A rug is not a requirement in the dining room but they’re great to have for a variety of reasons:

  • In rooms without carpet, rugs help soften the space and deaden the sound.
  • In an open floor plan, rugs can define the dining area and make it feel more cozy.
  • Want to add a punch of color or make a design statement in a room?  A rug can do that.

dining-room-with-cello-metal-chairsSHOP THIS LOOK: cello chairs | rug/table (stores)

What size?

Rug size seems to be a big question for many people and you’ve probably seen a little of everything on the web when it comes to what will work best.

While guidelines may need to be tweaked slightly to fit your space, the following will get you started:

  • Ideally, the rug should be large enough that the chair legs stay on the rug, even when someone is seated or chairs are pulled away from the table.
  • To determine rug size, measure the width and length of the table and add 24″ minimum to each measurement.  (Don’t forget to add additional length if your table has a leaf.)

SHOP THIS LOOK: Metalworks Dining

  • Match rug shape to table shape, if possible – round tables may work equally well with round or square rugs.  (And don’t forget to consider what shape the table will be at full length if there are leaves.  For example, a round table will be an oval, so a rectangular rug would be needed rather than round or square.)
  • Servers, buffets, or sideboards should sit outside of the rug, so that they don’t interfere.

If a rug absolutely won’t work in your space, for whatever reason, consider adding fully upholstered chairs or chairs with upholstered seats to add softness, texture and color.  (Upholstered benches are also a great option.)

SHOP THIS LOOK: Epicenters Williamsburg Dining


Dining room sizes vary from large, formal rooms to a small space in an open floor plan, but furniture placement is still pretty standard.

Dining table and chairs:

Plan for 3′ of walkway around the dining table and chairs.


Buffets and sideboards are a great way to add storage and additional serving space.

Make sure you have space for the depth of the piece + 3′ of walkway around the table, if possible.  (Do you have room to comfortably open doors and drawers?)

Designing Your Dining Room - Tips on furniture placement, area rugs, lighting and more
SHOP THIS LOOKAberdeen Server




The size of the chandelier should be relative in scale to the table size and scale of the room.

Allow at least 6 inches of clearance on each side of the table so that guests won’t bump their heads.


Center lighting over the dining table – low enough to light the entire table, but high enough not to interfere with conversation.

The rule of thumb for height is 30-32″ above the table in a room with 8′ ceilings (for a room over 8′ tall add 3″ per foot above 8′).

Designing Your Dining Room - Tips on furniture placement, area rugs, lighting and more
SHOP THIS LOOK: Aberdeen Dining

Mix it up:

You don’t always have to settle for the expected when designing your dining room.  For a different look, use two or three fixtures (or more!) over the table. These should be centered over the table, evenly spaced, and still allow 6″ clearance on each side of the table.

Grouped lantern lighting in the dining room - Lovely Southampton Summer Home | Traditional Home:
Traditional Home

Have options:

Whatever the lighting choice, it’s good to install a dimmer switch so that you can adjust the lighting to fit the time of day and occasion.  Everyone will look better and be more comfortable with softer light!

Add more:

If the size of the room can accommodate it, incorporate other methods of lighting when designing your dining room as well, such as wall sconces or lamps on a buffet or console.


Once everything is in place, it’s time to have fun and add the final details!

Window treatments:

Blinds can help control privacy and lighting in a space, while functioning drapes or stationary side panels up the interest with color, texture, and warmth.  They also give a finished look to the space.



And last, but definitely not least, there really isn’t a space that won’t benefit from the addition of well-placed art and accessories.

It’s a great way to put your unique stamp on the space!

SHOP THIS LOOK: Seattle Dining | Lamp

For more inspiration for designing your dining room, check out these posts and follow our Dining Rooms board on Pinterest!

, , , , ,

Comments are closed.


Sign up for our blog newsletter to see the latest design tips, decorating ideas, room inspiration, and more!

We promise not to share your information.