9 of Your Most Pressing Dining Room Design Dilemmas, Tackled by Our Experts

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Heather Goerzen

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Published on January 25, 2022

Designing an on-point dining room is no easy feat. These traditionally formal spaces play host to some of the most important meals and celebrations in any given year, and therefore deserve all the design fanfare (and then some). From statement dining tables and dramatic chandeliers to insta-worthy tablescapes and place settings, there are endless ways to add personality, warmth, and character to your dining space.

Considering every home has its unique set of design challenges, we asked you, our Havenly readers, to submit all of your burning dining room design questions via Instagram. From small space dining room hacks (even if you don’t have a space to call ‘dining room’) to centerpiece styling, our designers came through with pro styling tips and layout suggestions. Read on for the highlight reel!

1 // Are placemats out? Other tips to style a table?

tabletop styling tips

“Let’s just say they’re ‘less hot’ right now. For a more modern table moment, consider a runner (we love a timeless linen) paired with chargers (lean into organic textures like wood or seagrass, or go luxe with antique brass). It’ll add texture and dimension to your tabletop in a more on-trend way.” -Heather Goerzen, Havenly Design Editor

2 // Rug under table: yes or no?

dining room rug

“I have two dining areas in my home: one with a rug, one without. The one with helps to define the space and ground the table and chairs because it’s open to our kitchen as well. The other is without a rug because it’s adjacent to our living room which already has a rug I love, so another isn’t needed. In short, there is no hard and fast rule on this one. If dining is the primary function in a space, add a rug and make it a full cohesive scene. If it’s a multi-use open space, don’t feel obligated to cram a bunch of rugs under every single moment.” -Melissa Wagner, Havenly Design Project Manager

3 // Easiest way to tie kitchen and dining room together?

cohesive dining and kitchen

“Trying pairing cohesive elements from room to room – like matching metal tones or materials, repeated textures and patterns, or a similar color scheme. This will ensure both rooms work together and your choices feel purposeful!” -Brady Burke, Lead Designer

4 // Small apartment with no actual dining area?

small apartment dining table

“You can get creative with the dining spaces, for sure. There are pop up coffee tables. Try a counter height table at the back of the sofa with some cute counter stools. Or go for a wall mounted flip down table that can be stored away when you aren’t using. Create a styled vignette with a small bistro table and two stools that can be neatly tucked underneath. Also (shameless plug)… this is where working with a designer on your floor plan can be so helpful!” -Kelsey Fischer, Havenly lead designer

5 // Which centerpiece (if any) should I keep on my dining room table?

dining table centerpiece

6 // Front door opens to the dining room: how do I carve out an entryway?

entry console

7 // Super small dining room ideas?

small dining room ideas

“Even small dining spaces can be beautiful! Go for a pair of statement dining chairs, or a unique pedestal table. Layer in a hide rug for a chic vibe. Add a pretty centerpiece when not using for dining to really add an element of style and fun.” -Kelsey Fischer, Lead Designer

8 // Best way to refresh a traditional dining room with MCM/Scandi style?

scandi dining room

9 // How do I avoid farmhouse vibes?

modern dining room

“While we’re very into the trending Modern Cottage twist on farmhouse, it’s not for everyone. Farmhouse style is typically created with rustic finishes and a neutral color palette. To avoid that country look, opt for sleeker finishes, shinier metals (as opposed to matte black or iron), pops of color, and sculptural elements (whether decor or even your dining table and chairs). It’ll give your dining room more of a modern edge.” -Melissa Wagner, Havenly Design Project Manager

Have a design dilemma that could use an expert take? Work one-on-one with a designer to answer all your styling questions, hand-pick furniture and decor, and create your dream space. Kick off your project, starting with our style quiz.


Words by Heather Goerzen