The secret ingredient to creating a truly magical dining experience for your guests (and yourself, of course) is to find a style that suits your hosting needs and your home perfectly. There are practical factors to consider which include the size of the table required, the number of chairs needed and whether you might benefit from any additional features such as an extendable table or one with storage facilities. But sometimes it’s best to just start from the beginning by identifying the style you want for your space. Think of what will fit with the rest of your home and the transitions between its adjoining rooms, how you plan to use the space and the type of guests you will host. Whether your dining room serves as an intimate space for gatherings with close friends, a deal-breaking hub to wine and dine business associates or a warm space to share with the entire family, it’s got to be tailored to you. We’d suggest that perusing this list of ten of the best dining room looks is a good place to start when trying to find your style.
1. Classic Sophistication
The look: A crisp palette and timeless silhouettes
Perfect for: Formal dinner parties
Brands which do it well: Helen Green (right), Advivum, Davidson, Justin Van Breda
Classic by name, classic by nature – this is the exemplar for all luxury dining rooms and a great choice for hosts or hostesses with the mostess. It’s the quintessentially pristine dining room and one which all guests will wonder over how you ever manage to keep it so perfect. Furniture is elegant, chairs are beautifully upholstered in timeless materials and accents are kept simple – a posy of pure white blooms is perfect. A word of warning – keep spaghetti bolognese off the menu.
A classic look will never date – it’s designed to be as stylish in twenty years as it is now.
Image Credit: Oliver Burns
2. Refined Opulence
The look: Ornate details, striking centrepieces and golden touches
Perfect for: Making a statement
Brands which do it well: Jetclass, Justin Van Breda, Morris Mirrors
Guests expect a show of a meal with this style of dining room as its backdrop. Here, it’s all about creating a lavish display and pairing it with an equally impressive dinner. Don’t be scared of oversized proportions but keep upholstery simple to maintain a sophisticated aesthetic. Colours can be bold, materials are high gloss and a statement crystal chandelier (the pièce de résistance) adds sparkle.
Treat your guests to a meal of show-stopping proportions with glitzy additions to rival the most spectacular of restaurants.
Image Credit: Greg Crawford
3. Smart Casual
The look: Confidence in laid-back style
Perfect for: The informal counterpart to a formal dining room
Brands which do it well: Paulo Antunes, Brabbu
Proving that a relaxed look can be just as luxurious, this style is characterised by an inherent informality but always with a refined element. Furniture might be elegant but it’s also easy-upkeep making it a great place for early daytime meals or a suitable work or study station. A self-contained dining set up is a lovely addition to a kitchen and allows the host to keep an eye on the food and stay part of the meal. Refreshing colour palettes, banquettes and the freshest flowers are all mainstays of the look.
Luxury needn’t equal formal. Refined silhouettes with a casual twist and natural materials work just as well.
4. Country Charm
The look: Bleached woods, linen upholstery and natural touches
Perfect for: Airy, open-plan conversions
Brands which do it well: AM Classic, Flamant, Veranda Interiors
A popular style choice, the country look is nothing if not familiar and welcoming (as well as brilliantly versatile) which is what so many people want for their home, no less their dining room. An airy open plan conversion makes a great site for this kind of style but it also lends very well spaces which aren’t found in the country. Its penchant for relaxed furniture and tableware makes it a comfortable alternative to more formal designs.
An open plan kitchen/dining area is a particular favourite for this style so opt for traditional appliances and fittings to complete the look.
Image Credit: Martyn Lawrence Bullard
5. Neoclassical Elegance
The look: Pretty carving, antique elements and a grand chandelier
Perfect for: Spaces with high ceilings and original cornicing
Brands which do it well: Opera Contemporary, Suzy Newton
Pretty doesn’t have to be twee, as this style testifies. Yes, delicate forms and pastel tones might indicate otherwise but the unexpected use of a handsome table in a contrasting black hue offsets any sense of saccharine. Again, this is a style that benefits from an eclectic mindset and things like a mismatched dinner service and unusual combinations of objets wouldn’t feel out of place.
Bring a touch of the Renaissance into your space with beautifully carved Louis-style armchairs and a delicate palette.
Image Credit: Greg Natale
6. Modern Chinoiserie
The look: Traditional Oriental shapes with modern touches
Perfect for: Cultural without being thematic
Brands which do it well: Orchid
Add an unexpected element to your space with a modern-day take on the exotically inspired style favoured in the 18th century. Contrasting traditional Chinese elements with new elements and unconventional colour palettes breathes a breath of fresh air into the look and allows the use of interesting shapes without being too thematic. Unusual objets and artistic lighting sculptures contribute to the eclectic aesthetic.
A favourite of the fashionable contingent, this style is all about contemporary exoticism. Perfect the look by pairing unique Oriental additions with modern artwork.
Image Credit: Jonathan Charles
7. Traditional Grandeur
The look: Stately designs in warm woods, elegant tracery and fine carving
Perfect for: Grand dining rooms with high ceilings
Brands which do it well: Selva, AM Classic, Jonathan Charles (left)
This kind of dining room is the kind of setting you’d imagine a special family dinner to happen in, including the annual Christmas dinner. Well-suited to and usually found in homes with generous proportions, this look handles rich woods and grand silhouettes very well. A suite of dining furniture is a clever way to fill a space and make it more intimate. Its traditional air calls for the conventional dining room staples – a china cabinet and a buffet or sideboard.
This look is perfect for a period home thanks to its handsome carved detailing and grand proportions.
Image Credit: Jeff Andrews
8. Rustic Luxury
The look: Raw woods and a Craftsman-style aesthetic
Perfect for: Creating a warm space
Brands which do it well: Fleming & Howland, Flamant
You can’t help but be drawn to the warmth of the rich materials and natural elements of this style. Carpentry is at its finest here with joints and hardware on show for a desirably artisanal touch. This is contrasted with organic accents and tones in what then becomes an unexpectedly harmonious style. Wood and leather work well in a room like this as does unrefined metal for a sense of luxury in keeping with the imperfect aesthetic.
This thoroughly masculine alternative to conventional dining options is noted for its organic appeal.
Image Credit: Thomas Griem
9. Contemporary Cool
The look: Clean and sharp with a focus on design
Perfect for: Letting the food do the talking
Brands which do it well: Bonaldo, Bross, Glas Italia
This is a no fuss no muss kind of dining experience which allows the focus to remain on the meal which should be appropriately conceptual. Silhouettes are discreet but always considered (usually this style incorporates iconic modern seating). It’s a naturally cool look with contemporary material combinations being used, eye-catching light installations hanging overhead and tableware which displays the food in an optimal way.
Finish this look off with an amazing piece of modern art or an eye-catching light installation.
Image Credit: Intarya
10. Stylish Glamour
The look: Subtle glamour with a penchant for comfort
Perfect for: Dinner parties which turn into after-dinner drinks
Brands which do it well: Brabbu, Ikandi, Hamilton Conte
Glamour doesn’t rule in this style but it does give it the luxurious sensibility which underpins the look. Comfortable chairs are a must and are usually upholstered tactile fabrics in smart tones; tables are subtle statement-makers; and artwork is well-chosen and reminiscent of a deluxe eatery. Golden touches don’t hurt but are always combined with clean lines and cool silhouettes like this fashionable Delightfull Ike suspension light.
Channel slick styling with clean metallic accents, comfortable upholstery and a unique pedestal table.
Header image: Finchatton