All Of Your Burning Dining Room Design Questions, Answered by the Pros

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on October 3, 2022

There’s no-one-size-fits-all approach to dining room design. People have vastly different in-home dining situations depending on their location, home size, and household. From breakfast nooks, kitchen islands, and ottoman-slash-dining table setups in apartments to spacious formal dining rooms in homes, eating dinner at home looks very different across the board.

Of course, this versatility tends to inspire a lot of dining room design questions. From decorating a grand dining room fit for large family gatherings to creating functional, multi-use spaces in modest homes and condos, there is so much to consider when creating a functional, beautiful place to eat lunch.

So, we took to Instagram to answer all of your burning designer dining room questions. Read on for the highlight reel!

My dining room table doubles as a desk. How can I cut clutter?

Designer dining room tips

I live in a small apartment with an eating nook. How do I divide the space?

Designer dining room tips

“If you absolutely need the eating nook, consider a small pedestal table with two chairs. This table style will take up the least amount of space. If you’re open to creating more of a flex area, a comfy lounge or reading nook with two small, comfortable chairs and a sizable side table, or possible a comfy accent chair and a pouf. That way, you get more use out of the space!” – Brady Burke

I want to mix different furniture styles, incorporating both black and leather. How?

Designer dining room

“Mixing different furniture styles is all about creating visual balance. If all of your furniture leans dark and bold (like black and leather), it can make a space feel small and cluttered. Always play with contrast and a mix of materials — weave in a light oak sideboard or an ivory wool rug to balance everything out.” – Brady Burke

Do you really need a rug in the dining room?

Designer dining room tips

“A rug isn’t necessary in a dining room — going without can actually be more practical with pets or kids. But if you have an open concept floor plan, adding a rug can be a great way to designate each space and add some additional coziness and warmth.” – Havenly Designer Toussaint Derby

How do I decide between a round, oval, or rectangular dining table?

Designer dining room tips

“It completely depends on the space! We love both. Rectangle and oval dining tables are great for longer, more narrow spaces. Plus, they’re a bit more formal and allow for more chairs. Round is great for square rooms, breakfast nooks, or tight spaces in general. They help with room flow and spark group conversation!” – Havenly Designer Heather Goerzen

How can I incorporate kids artwork, calendars, etc. while maintaining a nice aesthetic?

kids artwork gallery wall in dining room

“Curate a thoughtful pin board, tied together with a cohesive color palette! I recommend a grid layout to give it a sense of order. This can make for a really sweet and personal family touch in a dining space, especially off the kitchen!” – Heather Goerzen

How can we liven up a boring dining room without buying new furniture?

Designer dining room

“Consider low lift and cost-effective aesthetic updates, such as new light fixtures or paint. If you’re in the mood for a project, try adding built-in shelving that you can style, or consider wall mouldings for a more elevated, classic feel.” – Brady Burke

We want a beautiful dining room, but have young kids. How can we design for both?

Designer dining room

“Be selective when choosing the materials for your dining space. Opt for a sturdy wood table that will age beautifully with wear and tear, and dining chairs with removable cushions that can be washed after a messy dinner. Or, consider plastic, acrylic, or even metal dining chairs that can be easily wiped clean! Lastly, invest in some butcher paper to cover the table for craft or homework nights.” – Toussaint Derby

Our apartment is so small we can barely fit a dining table. Any ideas?

Designer dining room

“A rectangular or square-shaped drop-leaf dining table is your best friend! That way, you can quickly downsize or even tuck it against the wall when not in use. Pair this with dining chairs that can fold up or stack easily to ensure you aren’t wasting valuable floor space! Bonus: use your dining table as a WFH desk when it’s pushed up against the wall” – Brady Burke

We love to entertain, but don’t have storage space for extra serving platters & dishes!

Designer dining room tips

“Sideboards, bar cabinets, and buffets are a classic complement to any dining room, and quickly double your storage space! They’re quite literally designed to house extra glassware, cutlery, china, or serving platters.” – Heather Goerzen 

Looking for a way to overcome your unique home dilemmas? Work one-on-one with our expert interior designers for just $129 per room. Get started today with our style quiz.

Words by Kelsey Clark