If you're lucky enough to have one in your floorplan, 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 (hello, four-legged housemates...), the dining room gets to exist in an idyllic in-between state—plates set, tapers standing at the ready, surfaces clear. For many of us, the dining room is the most idealized version of who we are and what we want our homes to be, however far removed from reality.
But as nice as it can be to catch a glimpse of a more glamorous, pulled-together version of yourself, that's not really what dining rooms are for. They're meant to be used—for entertaining neighbors, dining with friends, and welcoming family (especially as we head into the holiday portion of the year). Which is why we find ourselves favoring more modern, effortless designs when it comes to dining rooms lately. The formal setup is a classic, of course, but it does conjure up a certain high-stakes feeling—which is exactly the opposite of what a gathering space should be. So instead of palatial spaces with matching rows of chairs, we're feeling for a more relaxed, welcoming vibe—something accessible and easy enough that means we might actually *use* that dining table more than once a season.
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.
Open & 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. Low chairs with an appealing midcentury design keep from obscuring the view, while organic materials on the light fixture and ceiling draw the eye subtly upward. In short, this space is a masterclass in balance and serenity.
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 less-formal setup also makes use of chairs without arms at the "head" and "foot" of the table, achieving a sleek look even while incorporating deco-inspired elements. Finally, a sprawling light fixture completes the look—lending one more unexpected element to the vignette.
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.
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.
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.
Feeding a crowd never looked so fashionable. We're in love with the unique array of elements in this space, which borrow 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. The vintage "eat" sign brings just the right element of whimsy to the space, and the throwback light fixture looks right at home alongside it.
Clean & Comfortable
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.
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.
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 Moroccan rug; woven cane; soft, light-diffusing curtains; mixed metals—keep 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.
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 (here, an oversized painting to anchor the table, and a large houseplant to help). And our perennial favorite seating option, the banquette, makes another appearance, creating a family-friendly option that houseguests will come to love, too.
Bold & 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.