It's the one place in the house where we celebrate the art of feasting, family, and friendship. The dining room is a sacred space often loaded with nostalgia and happy memories of Sunday roasts or holiday get-togethers. We come to the table for the meal, but we leave with more than a belly full of food; our hearts are bursting with love and sentiment too from the many laughs and compelling conversations.
How we use this treasured area of our homes varies over time depending on your stage of life. The dining room in your 20s will look very different from the one you design in your 40s, thanks to changes in your career, lifestyle, and budget. So for the second edition in our Style by the Decades series, we've outlined three chic essentials to consider for a stylish dining room at every decade.
Since you've most likely just graduated from college, you're in the mood to celebrate and your dining room is where it all happens. But a finite budget shouldn't prevent you from making it look fashionable. With a little help from our high-street friends (we heart you IKEA), it is possible to design a low-cost space that's luxe too. Here's how.
Purchase a Solid Dining Table
This trendy dining table has that hip industrial vibe we love at a fraction of the cost. For little over $200, you can get a sturdy table that's packed with style. Your friends will think it's a designer piece.
Seek Out Chic Low-Cost Chairs
Since your finances aren't overflowing at this age, you'll want to track down chairs that are cheap and chic. IKEA is definitely our go-to in this category, and these sleek clear chairs will look good in any room.
Throw on a Sheepskin for Added Cool Factor
If you really want to elevate your dining room, texture is key. How? With a chic sheepskin—all the cool girls have one at home. It's also a great way to cover bargain buys and make them appear more luxe than they are. Sneaky, sneaky.
In your 30s? It's time to up your style game. As the wild partying ways of your 20s quiet down, you'll be spending more time playing host at your own elegant dinner parties. You'll have a little more cash to play with too, which gives you the chance to flex your stylish muscles. Just like your fashion sense, your dining room is a reflection of your personality so take the time to make it yours. If you've just started a family then it pays to add some practical elements into the mix too. Even if kids are the furthest thing from your mind, function and fashion should always be considered.
Upgrade Your Dining Table
Now you're starting to earn a little more, it's time to update your Target table with the original. This rustic style from Restoration Hardware is one of our favorites and will whether many meals over the years. It's definitely a financial investment, but one we guarantee you won't regret. A table like this always has good resale value too.
Shop for Designer Chairs
If you're going to host dinner parties, then having comfortable chairs is crucial. Choose a chair that will not only look good now but get better with age. The Wishbone chair by Hans J. Wegner is an iconic choice with a timeless design that will stand the test of time.
Mix It Up With a Solid Bench
If you have little ones running around your feet, then we suggest a sturdy table with a solid bench that makes dining fun. Even if you don't plan on starting a family just yet, everyone loves the mismatched chair trend. Right? And when you're not using it at the table, you can always repurpose it as an entryway seat.
When you reach your 40s, you're more in tune with what you like and what you don't. You don't settle for second best, and quality is key. After experimenting with various design styles in your early years, you know what works. Now you can style a dining room that reflects where you're at in life and make décor decisions that will last.
Hang a Stylish Pendant
While you might have hung a pendant or two before now, it's time you sourced one that reflects your exemplary taste and style. And the bigger the better. Find a classic style that won't date like the George Nelson lamp. It's been widely popular since it was designed in the 1940s and will sit perfectly at any table while impressing your guests.
Lay Down a Vintage Rug
Woven Accents Vintage Overdyed Rug (price upon request)
While you can forgo a rug in your earlier years, you simply can't ignore it in your 40s. Just like every space in the house, a rug really makes the room. Choose a wool style—it's easier to clean and feels soft under your feet. We love the vintage overdyed variety because it only gets better with age.
Place a Stylish Tray on the Table
Now that you have the foundations in place (and your kids are a little older) you can start accessorizing the table. A chic tray is a much-needed addition that will look good on its own and as a place to style all your decorative objects, vases, candles, and condiments.
Now that you're in your 50s, you've also entered the golden age of happiness. A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that not only were older people more satisfied with life overall, they were also less likely to be anxious, depressed, and/or stressed out. So your dining room should reflect that too. It's a chance for you to relax (not that you're any less busy than you were before), but by now you probably know a little more about how to perfect that elusive work/life balance. This is your time to shine.
Invest in Original Artwork
Artwork is one of the most transformative tools to update any space, and if you want to create something unique, original is always best. Look to your local galleries, flea markets, or some of our favorite online stores such as Tappan Collective and Chairish for rare one-offs, emerging artist originals, abstract paintings, and vintage prints. It will give life to your dining room and take it to a whole new luxe level.
Style it With Original Objet D'art
Now that you have a stylish tray, a solid table, and iconic furniture, it's time to decorate it with sentimental pieces you love. If you haven't already, source a handmade vase like this Luxe/Eros one that will showcase your artistic taste. These unique pieces will bring the table to life and reveal another element of your well-traveled life and journey thus far.
Find an Antique Car Cart
If there's one thing every dining room needs, it's a vintage bar cart that's well stocked with liquor classics and entertaining essentials. Whether you're a talented bartender or just an enthusiast who loves to experiment with friends, this will become the life of any party.
This is the decade when you can afford to be decadent. You've acquired exceptional taste over the years and now it's time to elevate everything and do away with all the pieces that don't speak to you. Your dining room should feel both comfortable and easy as well as luxe, chic, and refined—a place where your family and friends can enjoy good food and even better conversation.
Find a Luxe Chandelier
When we say elevate, we mean it, and it's time to upgrade your pendant light with a chandelier. This striking modern bubble style is one of our all-time favorites, but you can choose something less modern—whatever your heart, and taste, desires.
Elevate Your Table With Iconic Dining Chairs
Your age should indicate your taste, and after all these years of playing with various styles, it's time to get serious and assertive. Your personality and charisma can shine through something as simple as a dining room chair. The Hoffman side chair is an absolutely timeless piece fusing cool with classic, a combination that will never age.
Serve in Style
When it comes to serving delicious cuisine to your lifelong friends, make sure you bring out your fine china and designer tableware. This Kelly Wearstler marble bowl is on our lifelong wish list. Plating up with this piece will exemplify style, grace, and sophistication. It's expensive, but it will make the room and can be passed down so generations to come can also enjoy it.
Thomas ML, Kaufmann CN, Palmer BW, Depp CA, Martin AS, Glorioso DK, Thompson WK, Jeste DV. Paradoxical Trend for Improvement in Mental Health With Aging: A Community-Based Study of 1,546 Adults Aged 21-100 Years. J Clin Psychiatry. 2016;77(8):e1019-25. doi:10.4088/JCP.16m10671