Designing and Decorating Modern Dining Rooms

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Design Approach

As a design concept, modern dining rooms are simplistic and streamlined. Embrace the architecture of your room to create a space that is as attractive as it is functional. Incorporate bold colors and a minimalist approach to create an aesthetically pleasing eating space where food, family, and friends are the highlight of your free time. Enjoy a beautiful meal in a beautiful space as often as you would like without having to spend money on a trendy restaurant ambiance.

Modern dining rooms will help you and your guests relax while providing decorative elements that captivate the imagination. Even though you should plan to design your space with a minimalist approach, you can work with bold and bright colors to create an elegant space. Remain simplistic by passing on superfluous décor so that you have an extra budget for your everyday items like tables, chairs, curio cabinets, rugs, and dinnerware. You can even include a few items of art.

Even though modern dining rooms rely on minimal decorative elements, you can still find ways to express your personality. The theory of minimalist design does not suggest that items can't be artistic or beautiful; rather, art and beauty are in everyday items. It's true that you probably don't want to cover your walls in paintings, but you can feel free to treat your everyday items as art. Choose a bold, black table that shines slightly, and surround it with white chairs that have a unique shape. Paint an accent wall with white trim details to bring energy to an otherwise bland room.


Symmetry is a defining characteristic of almost all dining rooms. Take your tables, chairs, dishes, and silverware for example: when you set a dining space, you arrange everything as a mirror image reflection. Incorporate this idea of symmetry with your artwork, lights, mirrors, and sculptures wherever possible. Emphasize the idea of symmetry and mirror-image reflections throughout your dining space to create a calming and relaxing effect of balance. Symmetry will counteract the strong effects of bold and bright colors.

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In a modern kitchen, you can get away with subtle exceptions to symmetric design. Keep the basics like your tables and chairs symmetric, but feel free to add singular design elements to switch up the pace. Create an accent wall to add bold and bright color to the room, or set up one small statue or sculpture. A modern dining room will captivate the imagination if it is not perfectly symmetrical. Mix symmetry with singularity to create a unique and intriguing style.


Choose from a manmade or natural materials - or mix and match a combination of both. Both dark and light colors in various color shades can adapt to a modern design. Examples of materials include wood, stainless steel, metal, glass, and chrome. Choose a table with stainless steel or brown-black wooden legs with a frosted glass top. Choose chairs that are made from high quality plastics, or decorate your table with chairs that have a cushion or other ergonomic design.

If you have enough space, set up a curio cabinet to keep all of your dinnerware on display. If you'd prefer to keep your items hidden, choose a curio cabinet with solid instead of glass or translucent doors. As a general rule, don't buy more furniture than you can fit in your space. Along those same lines, avoid buying furniture that is too large for your space. A modern dining room should embrace your space's architecture, regardless of whether the room is large or small. Don't feel obligated to buy something because you think that you should have it, especially if you are trying to achieve a dining room that is aesthetically pleasing and well designed. Work with the overall shape of your dining room. If your space is square, set up a square table. If your space is circular, get a circular table. Your chairs and curio cabinets don't necessarily need to be purchased as a matching set with your table, especially if you are trying to achieve an eclectic look. Modern décor is sleek and streamlined, so choose furniture with straight, clean lines rather than round, organic shapes. Do your best to work with the space that you have to create an aesthetically pleasing dining area.


Traditionally, modern rooms are monochromatic - gray, black, and white-with one or two additional bright colors to add vibrancy and energy. This is the most straightforward color scheme to use, especially if you are new to the world of interior design and worried about choosing colors that clash. Stick to the basics for an effect that is functional yet attractive.

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Feel free to experiment with additional color schemes. At most, choose one or two bold and bright colors to balance with a more neutral shade such as a cream color, gray or black. Choose complementary shades, for example: pastel maroon, olive green, light gray, and white. Paint an accent wall in one of these colors such as maroon, and add details such as a white trim. Match your white trimmings with white colored chairs to complement these accent details. Remember the idea of balance and symmetry: if you incorporate a color that contrasts with other colors, add another decorative item with that same color for a balancing effect.

Wall Surfaces

Paint and wallpaper are both ideal options for a modern dining room. Wallpaper should have linear shapes as opposed to organic designs. Avoid patterns that are condensed, and instead, choose a design that emphasizes space. If using paint, feel free to experiment with bold and bright colors with contrasting accent trips. Do you want a dining room that is bright green? Go for it with your modern theme. If you're worried about overwhelming your dining room with walls that are one bold and bright color, consider painting an accent wall along the dominant wall in the dining room for a burst of energy.

Some modern dining rooms incorporate additional decorative elements, including ceramic or glass tile for a portion. Choose tile color that complements the overall look of the dining room. With glass tiles, you can actually create artistic mosaics and pattern. Typically, tiles are used in the bathroom and kitchen. Make sure that you don't give your dining room the look and feel of a kitchen or bathroom, and instead; limit the tiles to a small portion of one of the walls.


Hardwood floors, natural stone, and manmade materials are all ideal options for modern dining rooms. When choosing a finish, make sure that you select one with some shine and luminosity. A dull hardwood floor, for example, can detract from a dining room's modern look and feel. Choose bright colors that are either dark or light, regardless of whether you are using a natural or manmade material. Floors in a medium shade are less ideal for modern dining rooms, especially if you are using wood.


Incorporate a balance of natural light and electrically powered light for ultimate energy efficiency. In general, lights in a dining room should be relatively dim in order to facilitate a comforting and relaxed space. If you have large windows and skylights, consider installing blinds or shutters to control natural light. Try to layer your light by using a combination of different types of bulbs including LED lights that have a blue tint, fluorescent lights that are white and bright, and halogen lights that are slightly yellow. For overhead light, hanging lamps and recessed lights are ideal. An antique chandelier may not be the best option, but you could look for other streamlined and linear designs. For additional lighting, invest in one or two floor lamps that conform to your dining room's color and style.

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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