Great restaurants exist to deliver an experience for all senses. Beyond the mouthwatering dishes, every aspect of the design, décor, ambiance, and music must coexist to create a one-of-a-kind universe that will plunge diners into a world that makes time stand still, if only for a few hours. The best restaurant dining rooms create a space that invites engaging conversations, in addition to a ravenous appetite.
The dining rooms in our homes should essentially serve the same function—as a place to gather and linger in great company. Our dining rooms don't necessarily have to be opulent—but the right paint color, seating, or lighting, can go a long way in making a space feel inviting. We learned some restaurant dining room décor tips from some of our favorites. Below, find out how you can apply them to your own dining room.
1. Classic Leather Chairs Never Fail
Leather chairs are comfortable, easy to clean, timeless, and they look great. They’re also a staple in celebrated restaurant designer Martin Brudnizki’s dining rooms. Choose a timeless style in a color you love, and you’ll never want to part with them.
2. Create Intimacy
The more cozy and comfortable your dining room is, the more your guests will feel at ease and want to linger. Opt for plush seating, moody tones, and dim lighting to create an intimate atmosphere.
3. Highlight Architectural Details
Do you have beautiful moldings, brick walls, or wooden beams? Play these original features to your advantage like at the Wythe Hotel’s Reynard restaurant. Especially in a dining room where walls can feel a little bare, the more texture, the better.
4. Neutral Doesn't Equal Boring
Blending neutrals together can look great in a monochrome space, especially when mixed with plants and natural elements, like in New York City’s Eventi Hotel.
5. Bring Back the Banquette
For an unconventional (but oh so comfortable) seating arrangement, consider the banquette. Martin Brudnizki uses them in most of his restaurant designs, such as at the Thompson Hotel in Miami. Banquettes and dining sofas work great in small spaces, and can make a space feel more intimate.
6. Get Nostalgic
This Singapore Diner used the power of nostalgia in this '80s-themed diner, and you can do the same in your own dining room. Pick a decade and dining style you love and roll with it. Memory and culinary experiences go hand in hand, so transport your guests to another era.
7. Consider Your Surroundings
Moby’s, an East Hampton eatery focusing on fresh local produce, including seafood from the nearby Montauk fishermen, boasts a décor that’s unmistakably nautical. Rope-wrapped beams, navy director’s chairs, and beach photography all complement the surroundings and locally focused menu.
8. Display Your Wine Collection
Have an impressive wine collection? Find an innovative way of displaying it. Even better, create an intimate dining room in your wine cellar. Granted, this might fall in the dream home category for most, but if you got it, flaunt it.
9. Pay Attention to Lighting
We love the sconces at Marion in Miami. Sconces are an easy way to add ambiance to a dining room. Multiple light sources at different heights create a more flattering light, so opt for a variety of sconces, ceiling lights, and candles. Don’t forget the dimmers!
10. Have a Flair for the Dramatic
Want to impress your guests? Transport them to an exotic universe like the one in Singapore’s Empress, where cane chairs, orchid arrangements, and leafy palms coexist to create a vibrant old-meets-new setting.
11. Bring the Outdoors In
Gitano in Tulum has a distinct inside-outside vibe that’s further emphasized by natural materials, leafy palms, and a clever use of mirrors. If you have a beautiful view of outside from your dining room, use it to your advantage.
12. Be Unabashedly Lavish
In a completely different style, the private dining room at Liza Beirut is unapologetically over the top and extravagant. Formal dining is the perfect occasion to be theatrical with your décor choices.
13. Use the Power of Repetition
Symmetry and repetition are the driving forces behind many great designs, like this Hotel Vernet dining room. Use repetition with chairs and place settings, as well as with art, mirrors, and sconces. You can even opt for two or three pendants instead of one big chandelier to elongate the space.
14. Play With Mirrors
All spaces can be made to feel larger than they truly are, and mirrors play a large role in achieving this. Used together with the power of repetition, your dining room can become an optical illusion of endless space that’s quite breathtaking, like Café Boulud in Toronto.
Do you know cool restaurants we should turn to for dining room inspiration? Share them with us with the hashtag #MyDomaineTravels.
This story was originally published on March 1, 2016, and has since been updated.