If you're lucky enough to have one on your floor plan, the dining room can be the crown jewel of the home. Unlike the kitchen counter, which tends to get crowded with, well, stuff, or the living room that needs constant vacuuming touch-ups, the dining room gets to exist in an idyllic in-between state—plates set, tapers standing at the ready, surfaces clear.
As nice as it is to catch a glimpse of a more glamorous, pulled-together version of your home, that's not really what dining rooms are for. They're meant to be used—for entertaining neighbors, dining with friends, and welcoming family. This is why we find ourselves favoring more modern, effortless designs when it comes to dining rooms lately.
Modern design fits perfectly with a dining room, according to writer Sarah Zlotnick. "Because dining rooms aren’t always regularly used in a home, they’re a great opportunity to step out of your design comfort zone," she says. "You can be bolder with your choices because you won’t have to look at them all the time—and being bold is a crucial part of modern style. Dining rooms are where we entertain guests, so you want to invoke curiosity. Discussing décor is the perfect way to kick off an evening of dinner conversation."
Meet the Expert
Sarah Zlotnick is a longtime lifestyle journalist and contributing writer for MyDomaine. Her work has also appeared in Brides, Refinery29, Vox, and Philadelphia magazine.
If you're on the same wavelength, welcome. Click through for our favorite modern dining rooms, and ditch the stuffy setup of old this season. It might not always be polished and pristine, but we can promise you'll get a lot more memories out of it.
Keep It Open and Airy
In a picturesque, windowed room like this, taking a modern and sleek approach to designing a dining room is a no-brainer. Natural materials and muted tones take center stage here, echoing the landscape outside and infusing the space with a feeling of calm that's welcoming and casual, not stuffy.
Embrace Black Paint
Because it’s typically not one of the regularly used rooms of the house, a dining room is a perfect opportunity to get a little more daring with your design choices. Black wainscoting is a chic way to bring the drama, especially when paired with moody floral wallpaper and plenty of natural light.
In dating, it’s a major no-no, but in interior design, you’ll get nothing short of a seal of approval from us when it comes to going all-in on the ghost—we’re talking about chairs, of course. Clear acrylic ghost chairs are an easy, goes-with-anything way to add a touch of modernity to any room.
Added bonus: their transparency makes small rooms feel less crowded.
Create a Modern Mix
This dining room just goes to show that achieving a chic, modern vibe can be subtle, too. In place of a traditional matching set of 6 dining chairs, this design substitutes in a long bench with playful patterned pillows at one side.
This dining room embraces a less formal setup and the home embraces an open floor plan, which adds to the character of the dining room. "When all of your living spaces are visible at once, you want them all to feel cohesive," Zlotnick explains. "That generally rules out the option of having a dining area that feels separate, distinct, and too formal to get regular use."
Replace Your Rectangular Table
Round dining tables are quickly replacing large rectangular ones as a go-to, and we're fully on board. Not only are round tables better adapted to uniquely shaped spaces, but we think they make for better conversation, too. This modern option balances sleek lines with cozy warmth, topping Eames-style chairs with soft sheepskin throws. But the piece de resistence is the light fixture, which is a true showstopper.
Mind Your Minimalism
We've never seen minimalism look so inviting. A mix of complimentary—but not-quite coordinating—chairs are joined by upholstered benches, adding both seating and a new element of softness to this space. Textural interplay is part of what makes it work, with the light wood table picking up on the cane of the chairs, while something warmer lays underfoot.
Add a Mirror
Want to help a small dining room feel larger? In lieu of an art piece, adorn the wall above your credenza with an oversized mirror. In addition to the reflection giving the illusion of more space, it’ll also bounce light from outside and make the room feel brighter. This means: your dining room can be just as much a spot for a casual breakfast as it is for special occasion suppers.
Go Big and Go Home
Feeding a crowd never looked so fashionable. We're in love with the unique array of elements in this space, which borrows from a few different trendy design styles to create something completely one-of-a-kind. Modern farmhouse-inspired chairs intermingle with an oversized banquette seat—ideal for expanding the guest list on short notice—and the whole shebang is grounded by a stunning artisan table.
Add DIY Touches
“My family and I spend a lot of time in our dining room, and I wanted my kids to feel like they were at home,” designer Cachet Adams of Cachet Demain Interiors says. To that end, she hand-painted the accent wall, which was “a tedious undertaking, but cost-effective compared to wallpaper."
She also recovered the vintage mid-century chairs in mud cloth, and used a wooden frame found on Facebook Marketplace to highlight a beloved Josephine Baker print. The resulting look: a homey, ultra-personalized space to match the vibrancy of the family occupying it.
Craft a Clean and Comfortable Space
Sensing a pattern? A great light fixture can be the ultimate way to ground your dining space, and infuse it with plenty of personality. The understated lines of these chic chairs and rustic wooden table strike the perfect balance between dressed-up and easygoing, so there's always an excuse to invite a few friends for dinner.
Add Colorful Characteristics
On the flip-side, this space is made for maximalists. Personality drips from the walls here, showing off an eclectic art collection and a similar array of seating options, from oversized upholstered chairs to bright coral-hued bamboo styles. A few midcentury touches in the form of lighting bring the whole space together, creating an effect that's doubtless as unique as the homeowner who lives here.
Choose Cane Accents
In case you’ve somehow missed it, caning is in the midst of a major comeback. And for good reason, too—done in neutral shades, cane adds texture to a room without feeling too heavy. In a dining room, it adds a hint of homeyness and comfort to what sometimes can feel like an overly formal space.
Go for Boho Glam
Not sure how to translate your laid-back boho aesthetic into the dining room? Look no further for inspiration, as this space achieves it beautifully. A bold mix of textures—plush rug, woven cane, and soft, light-diffusing curtains—keeps the look feeling eclectic without sacrificing an element of sophistication. A "status plant" in the corner, none other than the famous fiddle-leaf fig, rounds out the guest list in this space.
Dark dining rooms are trending in a big way—but don't let the moody colors intimidate you. At its heart, this dining space is a real crowd-pleaser. A dramatic wall color handles the heavy lifting in creating a sense of atmosphere, so all that remains to do is pick out a dining set—in this case, one that marries a sleek black table with timeworn leather for a handsome (but low-maintenance) look. Add a dimmer switch or light a few candles and voila, dinner is served.
Try "Scandifornian" Supper
For those without a dedicated space, turning an eat-in kitchen into a sort of de facto dining area can be a clever solution—and one that dispenses with the unnecessary formality of a room you'll only use a few times a year. This design is a great example of how to define the space using art and accessories, and our perennial favorite seating option, the banquette, makes another appearance, creating a family-friendly option that houseguests will come to love, too.
Think Bold and Bright
A little color goes a long way, even if you're not blessed with as dazzling a dining room view as this one. Wallpapering a small section of wall at the side adds a bolt of whimsy and cheer to this otherwise understated space, making for an element that will undoubtedly elicit cocktail party conversations for years to come.
Looking for an easy way to make your dining room seating feel a touch cozier? Lay down a sheepskin or two. This go-to stylist trick instantly adds dimension and also makes even the most severe surfaces look and feel more linger-worthy. A faux version can be bought for a song at IKEA.
Let Wood Lead the Way
There’s something supremely calming about natural wood grain, don’t you think? Combine multiple shades with just a few natural accents for a dining room that feels serene and inviting—and will encourage guests to linger over wine and conversation long after the last course has been served.
Neutrals and simplicity are all the rage today. "Society as a whole has become much less formal and a lot more fluid," Zlotnick explains. "You see it in wedding registries—it’s a lot less common to register for formal china these days. Instead, most couples select one set of versatile white or neutral dishware that can be dressed up or down."
Wallpaper the Ceiling
If dinner parties are meant to inspire conversation, shouldn’t it follow that the spaces we throw them in be, well, inspiring? That’s certainly the case for this vibrant dining room by Glasshouse Interior, which turns the accent wall quite literally on its head. The punchy patterned wallpaper that lines the ceiling serves as a delightful surprise that’s guaranteed to put guests in the party mood.
Mix Things Up
For a modern bohemian look in your dining room, layer in contrasting patterns, bold colors, and lots of texture. A variety of seating options enhances the intentionally eclectic look, as does an abundance of potted greenery.
Pick a Statement Chandelier
Like a bold pair of earrings with your go-to cocktail dress, the lighting centerpiece of your dining room has the power to completely transform the vibe. For a space that feels modern and cool, forgo the traditional glitzy chandelier in favor of something sleek and slightly whimsical, like this unexpected design.
Hype Up the Head Seats
In a traditional dining room, you’ll typically find that all chairs are exactly the same. For a modern twist, choose coordinating statement chairs for the ends of the table, as Forbes + Masters designers Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters did in this Caribbean-inspired dining space.
If designated for the hosts, the accent chairs will remind attendees of your role as the anchor of the evening; if given to a guest, they’ll make the occupant feel extra-special.
Match the Walls to the Drapes
For a muted yet maximalist look, opt for window treatments that seamlessly blend into your wall pattern. The trick to keeping it all from looking too fusty is to choose sheer fabric on the drapes, opt for a pattern that reads modern but not busy, like this hand-painted design, and to go minimalist on the furniture.
Sticking with a palette of similarly-hued neutrals allows the unique textures of Midwest designer Brit Arnesen’s dining area to take center stage. The no-color color palette also makes swapping out seasonal decor a breeze.
Swap in a Bench or Two
Sometimes, what makes a room “modern” is that it goes against the grain of what we typically expect that room to be. And, if we expect dining rooms to be formal, then a more casual, rustic look suddenly feels quite fresh.
Love that ski chalet vibe? Go full-tilt by replacing individual chairs with some unexpected bench seating. Not only will they play up the casual nature of the design, but they’ll also help the space fulfill its true purpose: to bring as many people as possible together for good food and good conversation).
Add a Gallery Wall
Abstract collages + matching gilded frames = a dining room accent wall that screams sophistication and spunk. Pro tip: If you want to give the space a more formal flair, go for a symmetrical grid, as shown here. For a more casual look, incorporate different sizes and styles of frames into a more organic design.
Bring in Velvet
Velvet is an ideal fabric for dining rooms because it instantly makes a space feel more dressed up. Opt for bright, unexpected colors—like marigold, or this blush pink—to skew the space a little more boho; to go glam, select rich, deep violets and teals.
Get Creative with Candlesticks
If there’s anything Beauty and the Beast taught us—besides, you know, the importance of looking past physical appearance when choosing our romantic partners—it’s that candlesticks are a core component of any formal dinner. But, there’s no reason to feel beholden to crystal and gold. The matte black numbers in this dining room are the perfect modern touch, especially when paired with the navy chairs.
Use Books in Unexpected Ways
While shelves stacked with books usually feel most at home in an office or library, they can lend a den-y feel to a dining room. To make them more “art pieces” than reading material, wrap the spines in the same hue. Services such as Books by the Foot can also help you acquire vintage tomes in your specific shade specifications.
Select a Live-Edge Table
Chairs and wall art aren’t the only conversation piece possibilities in a dining room. The table deserves just as much attention, and a one-of-a-kind live-edge option is guaranteed to rake in the compliments. The design is an especially interesting way to bring natural texture to an otherwise contemporary room.
Use Your Shelves as a Bar
Built-ins have long been a traditional dining room mainstay, and for good reason: where else made sense to stash all that fine china? For a modern twist, install open shelving and display your bar essentials. That way, you won’t need to venture to the kitchen to serve up another round.