How To Decorate A Dining Room With Bright Colors

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A dining room can easily fall into the doldrums, with a too-bland color scheme reliant on all neutrals, with no sizzle or pop. Playing it safe is easy, but can get boring. If your dining room has fallen into this common decorating trap, you don't have to redo the entire room.

It's simple to bring life back into your decorating scheme with carefully placed shots of color, and by using brights in small doses, you can avoid an overly stimulating, garish looking dining room.

Whether you have a formal dining room used only for special occasions, or just an area near the kitchen with a table and chairs, your dining room should make a good impression on guests, be an enjoyable place to savor meals, and be a space that makes you feel comfortable.

Choosing a Color Scheme

It can be daunting to decide on a color scheme for your home. If you are starting with a background of neutrals, you can go in almost any direction to add color. To narrow down the choices, do the following:

  • Look at the clothes hanging in your closet. Are there any particular colors you choose over and over?
  • Check the rest of your house, and colors throughout. What touches of color have you used in other rooms?
  • Flip through a decorating magazine. What are the colors used in rooms that catch your eye?
  • Consider how certain colors affect moods. Red, orange and yellow are stimulating colors that excite the appetites and wake you up. Blue, green and purple are soothing, relaxing colors, and tend to calm you down.
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Achieving Balance

Once you have chosen two or three bright colors to accent your dining room, you want to use those colors throughout the area. For the best balance, you should use an accent color at least three times around the space.

You can create a professionally decorated look by following the 60-30-10 rule for your accent colors. This says that if you have three bright colors being used as highlights in your room, use one color for 60% of the highlights, one color for 30%, and the last color, usually the darkest color, for 10%.

  • If you have chosen two accent colors, use one for 60% of your bright highlights, the other for the remaining 40%. By avoiding too equal a division of bright color, you keep the eye moving around the room, and provide a more interesting look and feel.
  • For the boldest, quickest way to introduce color into a bland room, paint one wall to act as a focal point. A barn red, golden yellow or pumpkin orange wall will have tremendous impact on the feel of your dining room, and bring your neutral colors to life.
  • If a painted wall is too much, framed artwork will bring color to your walls. Designs should make use of at least one of your chosen accent colors.
  • Cover your floor with a rug that incorporates your chosen brights into its design.
  • Recover your dining room chairs in bright upholstery, or look for slipcovers to give your furniture an entirely new look.

Small Touches

  • Use the brightest accent color for the smaller touches in your dining room.
  • Bright-toned serving bowls, vases, pitchers and platters will highlight your hutch or dining room cabinets.
  • Choose dishware in bright solid hues, or go for a pattern that makes use of several accent colors.
  • Taper or pillar candles on your dining room table will add a warm touch of flame along with bright color.
  • Layer a brightly colored valance over your drapes or blinds.
  • Highlight your table with a patterned tablecloth.
  • Arrange a colorful centerpiece of silk flowers, and set it on a bright runner on your dining room table.

Flow Through the Rest of the House

Your dining room most likely can be seen from other areas of the house, and might be one of the first rooms seen upon entering. To keep your accent colors from looking lost and out of place, sprinkle them through the rest of the nearby rooms.

  • A few bright candles or collectibles throughout the living room can create a cohesive feel.
  • Toss a throw blanket in one of your bright accent colors over the back of the living room couch.
  • Artwork throughout your home can tie your color scheme together.

Bright window coverings or area rugs can carry your decorating theme throughout.

Neutral colors are safe, and can set the backdrop for an attractive, functional dining room. But adding bright accent colors brings a spark of flair, shows off your great decorating sense and creates a feeling of excitement and interest in your home. Find two or three colors that make you feel good, and use them to bring your living room to life.

Last Updated: August 31, 2011
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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