25 Top Dining Room Tabletop Tips

When choosing a dining room table, there are a lot of factors you have to keep in mind outside of design style. What size of room do you have? How many people do you need to seat? Is it for daily use or for special occasions? Defining what your needs are for your dining room gives you a jumping off point to decide the rest of the design layers to the room.

Diversify Your Seating

Not all dining chairs have to match. Flex your creative muscles and mix and match your favorite chair designs for an eclectic look. You can coordinate elements like metal tones, colors or a high level design scheme—traditional, modern, contemporary— but don't limit yourself. The more wide-ranging and diverse the selections, the more cohesive the design will feel.

Let There Be Light

Want a bit of soft, intimate lighting on your dinner table, but don't want a lot of cords? Consider a . With focused downward light, they illuminate the table, and your meal. Choose a slim fixture with a narrow footprint to provide light without adding a lot of clutter.

Go With the Grain

In a coastal minimalist design, consider adding a dining table with a striking wood grain or pattern. It adds a textural element without a lot of fussy details to take away from the simple elegance. Pair that with light-colored and matching dishware for a light and airy look.

A Singular Foundation

A ultramodern table with a large base may seem like it would be imposing, but replacing the legs with a central pedestal provides an uninterrupted flow. Shiny white finishes help reflect the light in the room. Pair with chairs with wire or thin metal legs to continue the sense of airiness.

Space for Many

If the amount of people you seat at your table varies, consider using benches instead of, or in addition to, single-person seating. Benches allow for more flexibility in seating numbers than defined seats at the table. They're also great for seating different sizes of diners, comfortably fitting multiple small children or a few adults.

Show the Natural Side

For a bit of rustic modern flavor, consider live-edged wood. The uneven edges are finished for comfort (no splinters here) and give furniture a handmade feel that's so popular with the modern farmhouse style. A matching bench repeats and emphasizes the wood feature.

Vary the Table Size

If you need overflow table space for dinner parties or holidays, but don't normally need very much dining space, look for an extension table. Leaves can take a table from small to large in seconds, accommodating groups of people of all sizes.

Draw the Eye Up

A domino effect can be a striking way to add drama to your dining room. Use dark tones on the bottom, both in a rug and a table base, and then light tones on the walls and tabletop. The dark floors and lighter walls bring the eye upwards and make the room seem bright and open.

Elevate Open-Air Eating

Take outdoor living beyond the picnic table with a . The wooden elements give it a natural, outdoorsy feeling, but the attention to detail and design elements make your al fresco dining area elegant and refined.

Refresh the Standard

Take a step away from traditional with a contemporary table with unusual table footings. Angled legs, a single pedestal or other uncommon under-the-tabletop design features are eye catching, but still maintain a classic dinner table feel. Coordinate it with matching chairs of a similar aesthetic style.

Bring Out the Light

Love eating outside, but don't want to eat in the dark? An oversized adjustable floor lamp may be just the ticket. While most corded lamps are not weatherproof, many are lightweight and easily portable. The flexibility and size give the feeling of having a large pendant light illuminating your patio table as you eat.

Pop Over to the Pub

A fun way to add personality to a rustic or modern industrial style decor is with a contemporary take on German beer hall style table and benches. In some ways a updated picnic table, benches provide flexible seating and the table space provides plenty of room for food. And beer!

Collect Coordinating Decor

When selecting your table accessories, find opportunities to pick pieces that fit within the overall design style. In Danish modern, for example, consider adding items like salt and pepper shakers that match the wood tones and sleek shapes of the furniture, or add other pieces in similar natural materials.

Go Backless

Rather than regular backed chairs, individual are an easy way to add casual seating to a dinner table. They're able to be tucked in all the way under when not in use, keeping the floor area clear. Coordinated finishes with the table, along with similar design tones, give a unified look.

Compare and Contrast

Add subtle visual interest to an ultra-modern design with a large centerpiece table. Look for pieces with a sleek style in unusual finishes. When they're made from contrasting materials, like wood and metal or opposing textures, like high gloss and matte, they heighten the drama and highlight the different feature areas of the table.

One Color Fits All

A monochromatic palette can be a fun challenge to take on, to see how many layers and variations of shades of a particular color you can add in. Varying the materials adds texture while keeping in the color scheme. Then you can selectively add pops of other colors, should you choose.

Pick Your Pieces

Your entire room design doesn't have to be modern to embrace some classic mod styles. A mid-century modern table and matching chairs can work easily in a traditional room design. Keeping the color scheme in the room neutral and matching furniture pieces to the wall paint lets the design be the focal point, not the color scheme.

Draw the Eye Up

A focal centerpiece is a lovely way to add personality and visual interest to your dining table, no matter how large or small. Whether a vase with foliage, candles or a mix of other decor items, match the scale of the components to the size of your table so they're neither underwhelming or overwhelming.

Coordinate Components

Consider choosing complementary shapes in the various elements of your dinner table decor design. For example, a table with curved corners feels at home with chairs with a curved back and rounded pendant lights. You can add similar silhouettes in your table linens, such as rounded placemats, or other decor items with equally rounded shapes.

Roll Out the Light Carpet

In a room with dark walls and a large dining table, lighten things up and bring a little contrast with a lighter floor rug. The carpeting softens the room and brightens up a darker space.

Flexible and Fun

With a young, active family, finding a dining table that is multi-purpose can be a lifesaver. A desk by day, an eating area in the evening, and some even convert to a ping pong game tables for fun at night.

Pull Up a Chair

Be ready for the party an extendable . Adding leaves or extension plates allows for small intimate gatherings or adapting to larger groups. Keep a stack of attractive nearby that you can quickly bring out if company pops by.

Finish the Portrait

Table settings are the finishing touches on your dining room table decor. As less permanent fixtures, you can change them up as your mood dictates. Choose linens and tableware that either coordinate or contrast with your overall design, and add a bouquet of flowers for that extra visual pop.

Keep Elements Together

In a dining room with a lot of different components, one way to keep things feeling cohesive is to match colors and textures. Coordinated metal finishes, wood tones and/or upholstery and paint color give the room layers of visual interest without making it feel cluttered. It makes the room feel harmonious but not overly matching.

New Traditional

If you like a more traditional design but don't want the formality of antiques, look for a modern takes on traditional styles like Shaker or Mission. Elegant, contemporary versions give you the form with modern functionality and comfort.

Choosing dining room decor can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Once you understand the requirements of your dining room, you can then determine the best elements to fit your functional needs, as well as your stylistic ones.