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 unique atmosphere. The best restaurant dining rooms create a space that invites engaging conversations—along with their appetites.
The dining rooms in our homes should essentially serve the same function, as a place to gather and linger in great company. Our dining areas don't necessarily have to be lavish, but the right paint color, seating, and lighting can go a long way in making a space feel inviting.
Below, read on to learn restaurant dining room décor tips from some of our favorites.
Stay Classic With Leather Chairs
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: In this space inside 45 Jermyn St., Brudnizki uses a bold orange color to complement white ceilings and green accents. Choose a timeless chair style in a color you love, and you’ll never want to part with them.
Highlight Architectural Details
Do you have beautiful moldings, brick walls, or wooden beams? Use these original features to your advantage like at the Wythe Hotel’s Reynard restaurant. In a dining room where walls can feel a little bare, the more texture, the better—even without hanging elaborate artwork, custom trim painted the same color as background walls adds an interesting visual element that still feels sleek.
Glow In Neon
If you've ever wanted a reason to pull your favorite neon signs out of storage, let this space by Jules Interiors be your guide. Pairing a neon flamingo light with elegant white statues, the designer captures the guest at first glance while drawing the eye to the edge of the room. Match your lighting to statement décor for a sleek vibe that makes colors pop.
Use Neutral Colors
Blending neutrals together can look great in a monochrome space, especially when mixed with plants and natural elements. In this elegant space photographed by Nicole Franzen, tall indoor trees draw the eye up to a custom wood ceiling. Warm leather dining seating complements the colors of natural textures, while the patterned tile floor adds a unique touch to contrast uniform tones.
At Frankie & Jo's, an organic ice cream shop designed by Katie Hackworth, bold, simple textures create a natural look. By pairing whitewashed wood paneling with exposed concrete, this ice cream shop has a flair for the modern while maintaining an inviting feeling. Neutral colors are complemented by pink tiles and soft white lighting, along with floral wallpaper (don't miss the mirror!) and greenery.
Bring Back the Banquette
For an unconventional (but oh-so-comfortable) seating arrangement, consider the banquette. Brudnizki uses them in most of his restaurant designs, such as at the Thompson Hotel in Miami. Banquette seating isn't just cozy, but it also saves space by allowing room for multiple guests without the need for so many individual chairs.
Banquettes and dining sofas work great in small spaces, and can make a room feel more intimate.
At Whitney's restaurant in Florida designed by Post Company, retro is the new modern. Natural materials like warm wood grains are paired with bright, eye-catching colors and metal accents. If you're going for the retro vibe, incorporate commercial decorations like steel countertops, faded orange and blue colors, and a mixture of different textures. It's also fun to play with vintage lighting and furniture to get the authentic look (plus, who doesn't want an excuse to visit the thrift store?).
In the Overeasy Orchard diner in Singapore, Hui Designs uses the power of nostalgia for an '80s theme. 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.
Embrace Your Surroundings
Moby’s, an East Hampton eatery focused 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-inspired menu. If your home is located in an area that's particularly beachy, mountainous, or naturally unique, play up your surroundings by incorporating local themes with a modern twist.
Display Your Wine Collection
Do you have an impressive wine collection? Find an innovative way of displaying it like this floor-to-ceiling wine rack photographed by Franzen. 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've got it, flaunt it.
Pay Attention to Lighting
We love the sconces at Marion in Miami. Sconces add ambiance to a dining room as an easy design upgrade that makes a big impact. 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!
Be Pretty In Pink
In this floral-inspired restaurant by Jules Interiors, pink reigns supreme. By using different shades of the same color, this designer creates visual texture and depth while accenting the uniform pink look with gold hardware. Fresh-cut flowers and tall blooming plants complement the floral wallpaper, while pendant lighting is matched to primary colors in the design like the room's faded pink bench seating.
Build a Personal Bar
If you had your own personal bar at home to entertain friends, would you ever need to go out again? The Kimika restaurant designed by Bespoke Only is a great inspiration for designing a space that feels as welcoming as the rest of your home. By using warm colors and recessed neon lighting, this bar seating could be the star of your space (and just steps from your living room).
Have a Flair for the Dramatic
Want to impress your guests? Transport them to a gorgeous 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. This space perfectly combines traditional elements with a modern, airy feeling.
Bring the Outdoors In
Gitano in Tulum has a distinct inside-outside vibe that’s further emphasized by natural materials, leafy palms, and clever use of mirrors. If you have a beautiful view of the outside from your dining room, use it to your advantage. Play up windows or glass doors, and on interior walls, style your space with large mirrors that reflect the light from outside.
Brighten With Bar Lights
If there's anything that designers and photographers alike can attest to, it's that lighting is everything. This space by Midcity Interior Design uses pendant bar lights to accent every stool while creating visual length as your eyes look down the bar. Incorporate this look in your own dining area by matching pendant light colors to your favorite barstools, and choosing a light design with a commercial look.
Be Unabashedly Lavish
Maximalists, rejoice! 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, so if you're a fan of hosting dinner parties, don't be afraid to go big (and stay home).
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 a single statement chandelier) to elongate the space.
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. Choose complementary colors and repetitive lighting to exaggerate the look for a dining area that goes on forever.
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. In this space by tAMINN Design, a staggered glass chandelier hangs above intimate tables for a metallic look and warm, inviting light.