Style a Dining Room Table, Whether It’s Round or Rectangle

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Published on October 18, 2020

While opting for a round dining table or a rectangular dining table is a matter of choice, there are a few other things to consider. If you’re a frequent host, go rectangular: these tables can usually fit more people (and more dishes at the table), and you can find options with leaves to extend them even farther. If you have a smaller space or don’t typically have guests, you might choose round, which can create a cozy, intimate setting. Now that you’ve identified your perfect dining room table, how do you style it? Whether rectangular or round, here’s what to do:

Play up a rectangular table’s long lines by adding a runner. You can also try adding multiple pendant lights in uniform increments down the length of the table, or, opt for one large statement pendant in the center.

When the table isn’t in use for eating, it can still be a style moment: try adding vases of varying shapes and heights, filling some with greenery or flowers and leaving others empty. Or, add a large fruit bowl or wooden dough trough and fill with fresh citrus.

If your dining room table is in regular rotation, make it a bit easier on yourself and incorporate frequently used items as part of the design. For example, tastefully stack dinner plates on one end, then add personal (and practical) touches like woven place mats, stylish salt and pepper shakers, coasters and everyday linens.

As for chairs, anything goes. Follow along with the lines of the table by choosing chairs with straight, clean lines, or subtly contrast its rectangular shape by choosing chairs with soft curves, like this velvety pair in blush pink.

Round dining tables require a little more forethought when it comes to styling. But that’s OK—the payoff is well worth it! In general, you’ll want to let the shape of the table be your guide.

While a rectangular dining table could use circular or rectangular place mats, round tables require circular place mats, plain and simple. They also tend to look better with round plates rather than square ones.

When it comes to centerpieces, you’ll want to choose something on the smaller side, as a large centerpiece can overwhelm the table and take up precious space. Try a slender vase with simple greens or flowers (we like monstera fronds, tulips or hydrangeas).

Above, a single pendant or chandelier works better than multiples. And don’t forget about what’s below, either! Since round dining tables take up less space and usually have a pedestal base, they offer more room to show off a beautiful area rug. The rug’s rectangular shape will serve as a beautiful accent to the table’s curves, or you can use a more organic shape like the cow skin rug pictured below. If you’re craving contrast, you can also choose straight-lined chairs to create visual juxtaposition.

Whether it’s a dinner party or the holidays, some occasions call for dining room table settings that go above and beyond your average Sunday night dinner. While you can consider your own event size and decor preferences, here are some of our favorite tips to add a little oomph and create an extra-memorable meal.

Try tapers. Real candles add instant ambience! White tapers are classic, but they come in a variety of colors to match the occasion or existing decor. If you’re worried about blocking the view, opt for simple white votives instead.

Opt for bold linens. A dramatic tablecloth and printed napkins can add flair and whimsy. Feel free to mix prints and palettes!

Add flowers, fruit and greenery. Nothing says “festive” like fresh flowers and greenery. Try adding fruits like pomegranate, pomelos, pears and citrus for extra color and dimension.

Incorporate ornaments. If it’s a holiday tablescape you’re after, simple (and affordable) ornament balls make for a beautiful centerpiece. You can also thread them with ribbon and tie them around napkins to create seasonally inspired napkin rings.

Use a wreath. Have a round table? Make good use of its shape by lying down a wreath in the center. Place fruits or candles in the middle for a charming and rustic holiday look.

Mix metals. Silver cutlery is classic, but why not add tones of gold, bronze and rose gold to the table? Incorporate these other hues through serveware, stemware, napkin rings, votive holders, or even additional flatware.

Go crazy with colors. Who says Christmas has to be red and green? No matter the occasion, think outside the box when it comes to color palette. Jewel tones, for example, always feel festive, no matter the season or occasion. And a rich blue and snowy white would make for an unexpected holiday color scheme.

Have you mastered dining table settings but not the dining room itself? Our team is here to help—and it all starts with our design style quiz.


Words by Sara Watson