How to Master Dining Table Decor with Tips from the Pros

Dining Table with Some Decoration
What does your dining table look like between meals? If you're like many of us these days, it might be a makeshift home office, a second living room, or somewhere in between. Or maybe you've just moved in your dining room chairs, a dining table, and some basic wall decor, but the room still feels sparse. If this sounds like you, it might be time to freshen up your dining table decor!

Whether you plan to use your dining room only for special occasions or you host dinner parties regularly, we're here to help. This guide highlights dining room ideas, tips, and tricks to help you design a space you'll love spending time in. Ready to get started?

5 Tips to Help You Find the Perfect Dining Table Decor Pieces

The secret to a beautiful dining room table is finding the right pieces. Here are our top tips — straight from the experts — for finding the perfect dining table decor for your space and how to style your table:

1. Look For Flexibility

Dining Room Table Centerpiece
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

"When it comes to decor, we sometimes get overwhelmed with the options. For example, we might think a single vase is too simple and end up adding too much clutter. I'd recommend keeping things you can easily remove if you need extra space," Karen Rohr told Living Cozy.

"A centerpiece that's both easy-to-move and practical is ideal," continued Karen. "For example, a vase of fresh flowers or a fruit bowl makes an attractive centerpiece but can be quickly put away when it's time to eat. Alternatively, a candleholder set or small greenery arrangement can add a touch of elegance to the table without getting in the way of the food."

2. Embrace Your Individuality

Dining Table Fruit Bowl Centerpiece
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

"You can show off your individuality in how you decorate your dining table, from a bright, eclectic scene to a sophisticated, traditional look," recommended Catherine Davin. "Mix a tablecloth or runner with pretty placemats and napkins, then add your favorite glassware, china, and flatware to compliment."

"I like to use a few yards of beautiful cut fabric for my tablecloth and finish with a centerpiece, like fresh cut flowers or an assortment of candlesticks. Avoid cluttering the space. Only select a few meaningful decor pieces to highlight the tablescape," Catherine concluded.

3. Choose a Theme

Unique Dining Room Decor Theme
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

"Whenever I start designing a room, especially a dining room or tablescape, I always think about the theme and overall design I want to achieve. Once I have an idea of what I want for the complete design, I start selecting pieces that complement each other and work to create the vision while always keeping the end goal in mind," said Wilfredo Emanuel.

Use the endless design ideas online by browsing for inspiration and finding a theme you love. For example, say you love the modern farmhouse style. Now you have a theme for your dining room design! From here, pick one or two (or more) dining room decorating ideas and add your favorite elements. For example, you might make some DIY mason jar candleholders from one idea to go with a flower arrangement and a chandelier from another.

4. Consider the Space

Black Dining Table
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

"Your dining room is meant for entertaining and sharing meals with loved ones. When selecting your dining table and chairs, make sure you have enough seats for everyone in the household and some additional seats, if space allows," Alexandra Davin recommended. "Aim to have 3 feet around the table on all sides so you can comfortably move around the room and slide out chairs. If you're tight on space, consider an extendable table to maximize your dining area when entertaining."

"It's important to consider the size of the space before starting," adds Allison Kersun. "Don't cram a table and chairs that are too big in a small space. It will just feel crowded." Instead, test the measurements of the dining set(s) you're considering by outlining the dimensions of the table and chairs in masking tape on the floor to ensure everything fits.

5. Think About Lighting

Beach House Dining Table
Credit: Julia Dempster

"Lighting is a key ingredient in a dining space, especially since you'll mostly use it at night. I always pick over-scaled lighting, and I highly recommend having light fixtures on a dimmer so you can control the mood," said Julia Dempster. "In this beach house [pictured above], I chose warm oversized rattan fixtures from Gervasoni, which I then reflected in the shape of the wood candle holders on the table. I try to fill the tabletop space with accessories of different heights when it's not in use. I balanced this tabletop with two candles and a floral arrangement to give it height."

7 Dining Table Decor Ideas (And 30 Top Picks) from Professional Designers

1. Table Runners

Dining Table with Table Runner

"A table runner is a great way to add style and personality to your dining table," said Karen Rohr. "They come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics, so you can easily find one that matches your existing décor style. Table runners also protect your table from spills and scratches, and if you're looking for a more temporary option, table runners are easy to switch out whenever you want a new look."

Recommendations form Living Cozy:

  • Port Bleu Table Runner: This French country-style cotton table runner from Williams Sonoma is machine washable with a soft, rich texture and a rustic palette. Pair it with other items from the Port Bleu linen collection for effortless coordination. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Nectar Striped Table Runner: This woven cotton table runner from Anthropologie boasts a warm neutral palette with cute geometric patterns and an inviting texture. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Dark Denim Runner: This centerpiece runner from Atelier Saucier is made from premium reclaimed denim with a rich texture that'd be a perfect fit for modern farmhouse-style dining table decor.
  • BADG Confetti Textured Table Runner: This upbeat table runner from Pottery Barn is part of the exclusive Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) capsule collection. It's machine-washable and features space-dyed yarns with a neutral, bright palette. (Picked by Karen Rohr)

2. Candles and Candle Holders

Dining Table with Candles

"The options are endless when it comes to choosing a candle holder for your dining table decor. You can go for a classic, traditional holder or something more modern. You can also choose the size and shape of the holder based on the number of candles you want to use," Karen Rohr told Living Cozy.

"Candles are one of my favorites," added Wilfredo Emanuel. "Not only are they classic in tabletop designs, but you can use their lighting to create the perfect romantic atmosphere or add to the overall ambiance of the space."

Recommendations for use candles:

  • Virginia Sin Collection Weylyn Candelabra Stoneware Ceramic White: This fun candle holder from West Elm boasts an organic texture and an artistic twisting shape with room to hold four taper candles to bring your tabletop to life. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Claire Taper Holder: This exclusive candle holder from Z Gallerie features a curved, modern silhouette and dramatic dark green marble base. It's perfect for adding height to your dining table decor, especially if you use both the small and large sizes. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Hammond Candlelight, Taper Holder: This West Elm single taper candle holder comes in small, medium, and large sizes, with the option to buy one at a time or a set containing all three. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Terra Pillar Candle Holder: This Anthropologie pillar candle tray is made from ceramic with a terracotta finish, with "tall" and "squat" sizes to choose from, and it's sure to bring a warm aesthetic to any dining table decor arrangement.

Top Picks: West Elm Paradiso and Weylyn Candle Holders

"I love these candle options from West Elm, as they show how you can easily infuse your personality into your table design. The Weylyn Candelabra is funky and lighthearted, while the Paradiso Taper Candle Holders are more classic and elegant," commented Alexandra Davin.

3. Sculptures

Dining Table Centerpiece Sculpture
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

"Sculptures are a great way to add character and uniqueness to any tabletop," said Wilfredo Emanuel.

Stylish sculptures never fail to make a statement, whether you're adding a focal point to your minimalist dining table decor or the perfect finishing touch on your farmhouse table. Plus, you can find pieces for any setting, from outdoor dining tables to formal dinner parties. So choose a sculpture that represents your tastes or personality to make your dining space as unique as you are.

Our recommendations:

  • Daniels Tangled Table Object: This dynamic tabletop accent from Joss & Main is crafted from resin and stands out with an eclectic style. It boasts an eye-catching twisted, curved design made from an unbroken band that almost invites you to reach out and trace the lines.
  • Kimball Sculpture: This Lulu and Georgia sculpture stands out with an ivory and ebony contrast theme, featuring linked ricestone segments for a fresh design to complement the gentle nod to 60s design.
  • Aluminum Knot Sculpture: This aluminum sculpture on Overstock from Sagebrook Home features a single strip of looping aluminum, creating a modern centerpiece that's sure to stand out in a wide range of settings.
  • Acacia Wood Links Centerpiece: This centerpiece from Frontgate is hand-carved from acacia wood with a natural finish and generous sizing. It boasts individual blocks of wood linking together in organic shapes for a simple-yet-whimsical appeal.

4. Trays

Dining Table with Tray

"A tray can be a great way to keep everything organized on the dining table as it provides a place for placemats, coasters, and napkins, but it can also serve as a great centerpiece," commented Karen Rohr. "By adding a few simple accessories, such as candles or flowers, you can transform a tray into a work of art. A tray can also help to protect the table from scratches and spills."

Tip for using sculptures:

  • Delicious Medium Marble Tray: This tray from Blu Dot is made from natural Carrara marble, and each piece has distinctive natural marks, which add unique beauty to the functional surface — it comes in small, medium, and large sizes.
  • Footed Decorative Tray: This decorative tray from Anthropologie is crafted from tropical hardwood with a black finish and a deep bowl that's perfect for displaying seasonal fruits and other dining table decor.
  • Spinnaker Tray: This Serena and Lily tray boasts woven rattan handles and a smooth, ceramic base in a white or navy finish — it's functional enough to serve food but elegant enough to stand out as a simple centerpiece.
  • Bend Tray: This versatile tray from Room & Board is made from steel by artisans in Minnesota, featuring a sleek design that can fit in with a range of styles and your choice of charcoal or white finish.

5. Bowls

Bowl on a Dinning Table
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

"You can also opt for pieces that are both stylish and functional, like a bowl with fruits. A bowl filled with fresh fruits is a simple and affordable way to decorate your dining table. You can use the fruit to add color and texture to your meals or simply enjoy it as a healthy snack while also serving as a centerpiece. Go for a classic ceramic bowl, or maybe even something more unique, such as a hand-blown glass bowl," recommended Karen Rohr.

"A bowl filled with fresh fruits is a simple and affordable way to decorate your dining table."

Bowls Tips:

  • Craft Shop Clay Footed Bowl by Leanne Ford: This clay bowl from Crate and Barrel is made from terracotta glazed in a modern, matte taupe finish that can fit in with a wide range of decor, adding an artisanal aesthetic to your dining table decor. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Guzzini Recycled Tierra Oval Fruit Bowl: This eco-friendly bowl from Food52 is both practical and attractive, with a range of neutral color options. In addition, it's made in Italy from recycled water bottles, perfect for eco-friendly spaces. (Picked by Karen Rohr)
  • Ayla Decorative Bowl: This onyx-stained bowl from Anthropologie is made from tropical hardwood with an understated appeal that can fit in with any space and a range of styles, adding an elegant appeal.
  • Rubberwood Pedestal Serving Bowl: This rubberwood by Threshold boasts an elegant pedestal-style base with an eye-catching silhouette and a natural wood finish, perfect for adding texture, warmth, and visual interest to your table. (Picked by Karen Rohr)

Top Pick: Whitewashed Compote Bowl

"Use a low vase or bowl as your centerpiece for cut flowers, so your guests can see each other across the table. I love the Whitewashed Compote Bowl because its earthy, whitewashed look would complement any color scheme," Alexandra Davin told Living Cozy.

6. Vases

Dining Table with Vase

"Vases, even when empty, can serve to add height to the table. And when multiple vases are combined, they can create very interesting and beautiful ensembles. Moreover, when vases are full of flowers or other items, they can serve to add even more beauty to the room, and when needed, they can be moved to a credenza and create an ideal backdrop for a meal," said Cameron Johnson.

"Vases, even when empty, can serve to add height to the table. And when multiple vases are combined, they can create very interesting and beautiful ensembles."

Placing a vase of flowers between two candles is a super-easy way to create a dining table centerpiece. But, of course, a vase and two candles can also work as a focal point on the coffee table and kitchen table, creating a cohesive look in multiple rooms while using different flowers in each arrangement (e.g., hydrangeas, orchids, and tulips in separate rooms). And if vases of flowers aren't your thing, try small succulent planters instead!

Vases Tips:

  • Cezanne Glass Vase 3-Piece Set: This beautiful 3-piece vase set from Sage and Sill is the perfect way to add height and beauty to your dining table decor — the glass vases come in three attractive colors, and each set includes small, medium, and large vases.
  • 2-Piece White Ceramic Table Vase Set: This attractive vase duo from Joss & Main is inspired by Japanese wabi-sabi design, featuring a distressed neutral white finish and trumpet-shaped silhouettes with broad mouths.
  • Leonor Vase: Can't decide between a sculpture and a vase? This arched vase from Lulu and Georgia is handcrafted in small and large sizes by Portuguese artisans, featuring a creative design that allows the two sizes to nest together.

7. Decorative Place Settings

Dining Table with Place Settings
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

When preparing for the holiday season or a dinner party, decorative place settings can create an attractive tablescape when used alone or with other dining table decor. Choose placemats, napkins, napkin rings, and dinnerware that go with your chosen theme, designing creative pairings for a cohesive look. Alternately, look for collections with a brand you like to find matching place settings to choose from.

Decoration recommendations:

  • Natural Bamboo 5pc Place Setting: "I recently invested in this bamboo flatware set from Juliska after years of loving it from afar. It adds so much character to a tablescape and can work in a variety of decorative styles," explains Catherine Davin.
  • Coral Placemat: "I love a statement napkin ring paired with an embroidered linen napkin to double the effect," says Joanna Buchanan.
  • Zebra Placemat: "A hand beaded placemat is the ultimate in luxury and will elevate any meal you plan to serve. I'm thinking squid ink pasta with scallops would be a perfect match for this placemat," says Joanna Buchanan
  • Eclipse Napkin Holder: With a mid-century modern design and natural birch wood construction, this napkin holder can add a perfect visual contrast to any tabletop. And the sculptural composition is sure to bring the look to life.

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Written by
Shelby Golding
Shelby Golding is a Colorado-based writer/editor with over a decade of experience. She has a college education in interior design and enjoys woodworking in her free time.
Shelby Golding
Written by
Shelby Golding
Shelby Golding is a Colorado-based writer/editor with over a decade of experience. She has a college education in interior design and enjoys woodworking in her free time.
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About Living Cozy

Your go-to source for modern homeware and furniture brands.
We bring together industry experts and the people behind the brands we share our homes with to give you unique insights into the world of furniture, homeware and interior design.

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Wilfredo Emanuel
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On Living Cozy, you'll find advice and insights from furniture and interior design experts to help make your house a home.