Modern Dining Room Ideas

Michelle Radcliff
graphic prints and random patterns

Prints, Patterns, and Color

A modern dining room, be it a separate area or a shared space, should function as well as it looks. Let your lifestyle as well as your home and design preferences guide you in putting a look together.

A black and white color scheme gives this dining room a crisp, sophisticated feel. The sharp contrast of colors brings out the fine details in the rug's graphic print. Varying sizes and a random pattern on the wall designs incite a fresh, modern vibe.

Bright orchid upholstery on the dining chairs adds a lively dash of color to the stark white lacquer table and the dressy black and silver drum pendant. A second dining area with a simple, chrome and white color scheme can easily be dressed up with fancy centerpieces and colorful table settings when needing extra seats for special occasions.

Open concept

Open, Light, and Spacious

Walls get in the way of modern home designs that open up into spacious combined living areas. Creative room designs help define separate areas such as raised or lowered floors, half walls, and built-in nooks. The ceiling tray pictured here helps define the dining area in this great room where multiple elements contribute to a light and airy feel:

  • Light streaming through the glass bubble chandelier illuminates the see-through table below.
  • The reflective surfaces of the glass tabletop, glass chandelier bubbles, and shiny chrome ceiling plate brighten the area.
  • Highly polished white tile, light, shiny wood laminate flooring, and cool white walls add to the spacious feeling.

A strategically placed wall mirror makes the dining room look twice as large while a simple grouping of three small centerpieces won't interrupt the view or flow of table conversations.

Mismatched chairs

Transitional Mismatched Chairs

For the free spirited decorator, dining room furniture doesn't need to look like a boxed set. Here you can see the finely carved legs of a traditional style white wooden table surrounded by modern chair designs in a variety of styles, colors, and materials including molded plastic and metal. The bright orange pendant with its textured dome becomes an instant focal point while the carved screen provides an elegant backdrop.

Piecing together your own dining room furniture is a great option if you're on a budget. Most spray paint is inexpensive and can easily bring new life to a thrift store chair. Check the leg and arm joints to make sure the piece is solid and create your own custom dining set.

Minimalist in small studio or apartment

Minimalist Design

Clutter is the enemy of good design in small studio apartments which can still be big on style. This modern teak dining set feels warm and inviting and ties in beautifully with the wood flooring, wood wall shelves, and wood blinds. Other design elements add to the small space space's larger feel:

  • Crisp white walls contrast nicely with the darker wood tones and make the room feel more spacious.
  • Recessed wall shelves with built-in cabinets in place of a free standing china cabinet or bookcase preserve more floor space.
  • Single objets d'art displayed on most of the shelves inspires a clean, minimalist look that doesn't distract from the natural beauty of the wood table and the interesting angular shapes of the twin pendant lamps.
Industrial chic/urban style

Industrial Chic/Urban Style

In the heart of the big city, urban or industrial style apartments can be found in refurbished old factories or warehouses. Exposed building materials such as large metal pipes and duct work become chic design accents as seen in this industrial style dining room.

A sleek, black lacquer dining table shares the same space with a ladder, steel worktable and an industrial style metal dome warehouse pendant light. Two modern matching folding chairs are accompanied by two mismatched chairs - a traditional wooden Windsor-style dining chair and a standard metal folding chair. A sprinkling of live houseplants help warm the cold, industrial feel with delicate greenery and the sweet aroma of fresh cut flowers.

oversized pendant

Oversized Pendant

Oversized pendants are making a big statement in modern dining rooms. Throw out the traditional design rule of dining room chandeliers or pendants being 1 foot less in diameter than the width of the dining table. As long as there is adequate ceiling space, the bigger the better with dining room lighting.

Inspired by the rolling green hills outside, a soothing shade of sage green ties this oversized drum pendant in with the jade accent wall and the earthy green upholstery of modern dining chairs.

Custom lighting and furniture

Custom Dining Room Details

Custom dining room furniture and lighting provides designer looks seen in magazines and interior design websites. Various shades of cream and beige give this dining room a quiet, comfortable atmosphere that might hinge on the boring side without the use of high-end details such as the tailored fit of the skirted dining chairs. Custom-sized cube pendants provide an elegant lighting solution over a non-standard sized rectangular dining table.

Neutral colors help ensure the custom-made dining room elements are less likely to go out of style. If you decide to move in the future and include these items with the sale of the home, a neutral color scheme will have a wider appeal to potential buyers.

Artistic accents - living plants

Natural Artistic Accents

Enhance the look of sleek, low-profile dining room furniture with natural, earthy accents for a modern Zen-inspired atmosphere. Living wall planters are a perfect fit for this design scheme associated with simplicity, balance and harmony with nature. A trio of mossy plants in cracked stone planters make a simple yet attractive centerpiece. Succulent plants also work well for artistic table centerpieces. Go with bushy and leafy trailing vine plants in living wall planters.

Include other natural elements such as wood, stone, vines and grasses. Anchor your dining set with a large area rug made from sisal or jute. Cover windows with horizontal wood or woven matchstick blinds and use placemats made from bamboo or water hyacinth. Think Asian-inspired or natural wood wall art with clean, simple lines and use green and brown earth-tone colors on table settings and walls. Don't overcrowd the room with large, bulky furniture or excessive décor - a small sideboard or rolling cart can serve as a cocktail bar.

Sun room as dining room

Sun Room Dining

The next best thing to al fresco dining is a sunroom outfitted with an attractive dining set. Expanded living spaces are a hot interior design trend, calling for less décor as stunning outdoor views take center stage. Use it as a sunny breakfast nook, a shady retreat for afternoon tea, or to serve romantic sunset dinners.

A substantial dining table fills the long, narrow shape of this sunroom. Supported by massive carved stone pillars, the glass top of the table keeps the look light, airy and contemporary. A sleek, aqua glass end table fills an empty corner, echoing the blue of the tropical ocean surrounding the room in a panoramic view through glass walls.

Skylights can enhance an outdoor feel while the glass walls and ceiling protect against unwanted elements such as wind and insects. Install solar shades to block out glare, excessive heat and for better control of natural lighting.

Bold colors/patterns

Bold Colors/Metallic Accents

If you enjoy hosting dinner parties with lively and engaging conversations, inject the dining room with bold, energizing colors in shades of red or orange. Inspire an upscale feel with an accent wall covered in metallic wallpaper featuring a tone-on-tone trellis design. Update the look of a traditional chandelier by covering it with a modern style metal and fabric drum shade cover. Add interest to a modern dining room decorating scheme with a couple of exotic silver vases, a surefire way to strike up conversation when new acquaintances join your circle of friends.

Luxury dining room

Luxury Looks

When no expense is spared, luxury dining rooms come into play, rivaling the look of fine dining restaurants in fancy hotels. Dining tables covered in the finest wood veneers, such as mahogany or rosewood, are varnished and buffed to a mirror-like shine. Dining room chairs feature exquisite upholstery such as suede, velvet, vinyl, and leather or can be molded from sleek materials such as acrylic, metal, and plywood. The glamorous chairs pictured here come off as a custom frame design of metal and tropical hardwood combined with white leather or vinyl upholstery.

What steals the show in this luxurious dining room is the massive crystal chandelier. Like a gigantic layer cake turned upside down, three tiers of dangling glass shards capture and reflect light through the modern, white walled space. Inside glimpses of the antique brass frame hint at a slightly eclectic look.

Eclectic dining room

Mixed Eclectic Treasures

You can live in a modern home but still be a bit of a gypsy at heart. Imagine this dining area tucked in the corner of a modern loft-style home. Furniture and accent pieces sourced from flea markets, thrift stores, and antique boutiques throughout the local area or the occasional excursion abroad provides the feel of a room put together over time.

Hints of history and character appear on the distressed legs of the dining table and the exposed brick wall peeking out from the deep gold wall color which appears to just fade away. Custom upholstery on four of the dining chairs make them appear to be wearing dresses, leaving little doubt as to the true eclectic style intended for this modern Old World-Gothic-Victorian-influenced dining room.

Think about the atmosphere that appeals to you the most of your favorite restaurant or eatery - would those elements fit well with your lifestyle and design preferences? Decide what kind of look and feel you want for your modern dining room and go from there.

Michelle Radcliff
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Modern Dining Room Ideas