How to Style a Dining Room Table

How to Style a Dining Room Table

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Unless you are hosting an extravagant dinner party, your dining table settings and decor probably is not at the forefront of your mind. Your dining nook or table tends to disappear into the background or becomes an extra storage space where you can plonk down your keys or mail.

Fortunately, you can make your dining room table a focal point even in the absence of dinner parties. If, like us, you believe your home is your happy place, then you need to use what you have in your house to create the ultimate living space for you and your family. And this includes your dining space!

When it comes to decorating your dining room table, you need to consider the size and shape of your table (check out our handy dining room table size guide for more info). There are plenty of different dining table styles, like square or round dining tables (or even extendable dining tables!), and each of these will require different decorating considerations.

You should also consider the number of dining chairs that can fit at your table, the color palette of the room, as well as how much or how little visual interest you want to add.

Styling your dining space is an exciting way to change up your interior decor, so read on to find some exciting dining room decoration ideas to keep in mind, whether you are hosting a formal dinner or simply sitting down with your family for a meal.

Why Style a Dining Table?

Styling a dining table can be extremely fun! It gives you an opportunity to get your creative juices flowing and express yourself.

Unlike with decor in the rest of the home, a dining room is incredibly flexible and you can change up the style to suit your mood. From fresh flowers to candles, there is no limit to how you can style your table.

Different tablecloths and runners can completely change the feel of your dining room, while a table that is set means you will always be ready for guests.

Whether you have a square, rectangular, or round dining table, having some type of decor on your dining room table will give your house a sophisticated feel, informing anyone who sees it that you care about your house and your guests.

Styling Your Dining Table: Your Options

There are various whys in which you can style your dining table. You can get as creative as you want to keep things interesting. Let's take a look at some of the best options to style your table.

And, don't miss out on some of the best dining room tables out there if you need inspiration.

Plants or Flowers

Fresh flowers or live plants are an easy way to bring life and character into your dining room while also making a statement. Whether you opt for an elaborate and large centerpiece made from an entire bouquet or simply a couple of freshly picked flowers from your own garden - the opportunities are endless.

The number of flowers or the size of the plants will depend on the space available on your table. Larger is not always better when it comes to floral arrangements; it's more important which colors and textures you introduce.

Dining Table Flowers

A display made from fresh flowers can be quite high-maintenance, as you'll have to remove dead heads daily. It can also get quite expensive if you have to buy a new bunch of flowers weekly.

So, if you want your floral decorations to last long and not carry out any maintenance, then you can always opt for artificial flowers. These days, fake flowers are of extremely high quality - none of those tacky flowers your grandparents used to decorate with - and your guests will not even realize the flowers are fake.

Flowers symbolize different moods, and you can use a variety of flowers or simply a single type to achieve the perfect feeling. For example, individual roses at each place setting will give a romantic feeling, while a bunch of bright and lively daisies will be perfect if you are hosting a game night.

Fruit

Fruit bowls are ideal for placing on a dining room table. Whether you enjoy eating fruit or not, a beautiful bowl or basket filled with seasonal fruit is the perfect addition to any table. The fruit can be simply decorative, or you can use it to store your edible fruit within easy reach.

Dining Table Fruit Bowl Centerpiece
Credit: Mackenzie Collier Interiors

You can mix and match fruits or stick to fruits of only one color. Fruits can also change seasonally, meaning your dining room will always look and feel fresh and new.

Fruit on a table is also great if you have guests coming over who are looking for a quick snack. It gives your house a welcoming, lived-in feeling.

The only downside is that fruit may rot if stored in direct sunlight or left out for too long, so make sure to regularly check the fruit and eat or throw out any fruits that look like they're about to expire.

Vases

Vases can make it incredibly easy to style your dining table.

Vases come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, enabling you to really get creative. Ceramic, glass, metal, and wood vases are all beautiful additions to any dining room table, whether you decide to place flowers in them or not.

Dining Table with Vase

A single vase will make a statement, or you can form a grouping of smaller, different-sized vases for a more interesting visual appearance. If you do use various vases, make sure they are all of different heights but similar materials to make it look like an interior designer styled your table.

If you wish, you can add some greenery or flowers to your vessels, but this is not a requirement, and the vase can speak for itself. Empty vases are the ideal option for those looking for something low-maintenance.

Feature Lighting

When it comes to decorating your table, it is not just about what goes on the table, but also what surrounds it.

Lighting plays a big part in any room and can create a completely different atmosphere at night, as well as add color and decorative elements.

Beach House Dining Table
Credit: Julia Dempsey

Feature lighting above your dining room table will make a statement. There are so many different lights to choose from, and you can decide whether you want a low-hanging light in the center of the table or a variety of hanging lights along the length of the table.

The lampshade you choose will also set the mood in the space. For example, a geometric brass lampshade will give an industrial feel, while woven lampshades that cast soft shadows will make the room feel more romantic.

The most important thing is to keep the shape and scale of your table in mind, as you do not want the lighting fixture to dominate the table, but rather subtly add to the vibe of the room.

Dining Vignette

Is your dining room always being used, and do you find the task of setting up and clearing the table extremely laborious? Well, a dining vignette could be the perfect solution.

Dining Vignette

To create the perfect dining vignette, start by placing your essentials - like your napkins, toothpicks, salt, and pepper - into a vignette or tray (or simply on a nice wooden board) in the center of the table.

Next, add some personal items, like coasters, a vase, or your favorite placements.

Having this vignette set up and ready to go means you won't constantly be clearing the table, and there will be a decorative element in your dining room. If you wish to set the table for a more formal event, you can simply remove the vignette from the table and style your dining room table as you wish.

Candles

Candles are amazing for changing the entire atmosphere of a room at night. They add a touch of romance and relaxation to the room and create a welcoming feeling.

Candles are also fairly affordable, giving you a quick and easy solution to styling your table.

Dining Table Candles

If you are scared of knocking a candle over, you can purchase LED candles that flicker just like the real thing - and are also kid-friendly.

Even during the day, your candles will look beautiful on the table, as they are often of different heights, colors, and sizes.

For a formal dinner party, you can place mirrors under the candles, or place floating tealight candles in a bowl of water and watch the light from the candles reflect and dance on the table.

Other Dining Room Table Styling Tips

When it comes to styling your dining room table, the opportunities really are endless!

Let's take a look at some more table styling tips which you can customize to suit your own decorating style.

  • Choose a table cloth or table runner. Table cloths are a fun way to instantly change the look of your room. You can opt for a light-colored or lace table cloth for a teatime or lunch event, or darker colors during a more formal dinner event.
  • Get creative with placemats. Placemats are a necessity if you do not have a table cloth. They protect your table from stains and hot plates but also help to add texture and color to your dining room table setup.
  • Make use of decorative glasses. When you are setting up the table, skip the standard clear crystal glasses and get creative with some fun, attractive glasses. From intricate patterns etched into the glass, or fun-colored water glasses, decorative drinking glasses can completely transform your dining table setup.
  • Match your furniture. If you are purchasing your dining room table directly from a furniture manufacturer (as opposed to an antique store), look for other furniture items from the same range to create a cohesive look.
  • Let the table speak for itself. If you have a beautiful timber table, let it speak for itself. Do not cover it unnecessarily with an unsuitable cloth. Rather keep decorations to a minimum, and use other natural color tones or some plants to style the table.

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FAQs

What do you Put on a Dining Room Table When Not in Use?

Here are some items that you can place on your dining room table when you are not using it - and no, we are not referring to your handbag or bills!

  • A beautiful decorative tablecloth or table runners.
  • Stack of books to create an interesting focal point.
  • Potted plants in fun plant holders to introduce some greenery into the room.

Do you Leave Placemats on a Dining Table?

When it comes to placemats, there are no set rules. We recommend you place your placemats in a dining vignette so they are all neatly stacked and ready for use. If you leave the placemats out at each seating spot, they could shift around and look disorganized.

Placemats are most often used during informal dinner parties when there is no table cloth on the table.

Should I Put a Tablecloth on my Table?

Whether or not you should use a tablecloth is completely up to your personal preference.

Typically, formal dinner parties call for the use of a tablecloth, and tablecloths also help protect your table from stains and burns.

The state of your table will also determine whether you should use a cloth or not. If your table is a bit worse for wear, then hiding the blemishes underneath a beautiful cloth works wonderfully.

If your table is still in great condition, or you want to show off the beautiful design, then rather opt for a table runner down the middle, which will not entirely cover the table.

How Do you Style a Wood Dining Table?

Timber tables do not require a lot of styling, as the wood often provides a unique style to your dining room. Here are some ideas on how you can style your wood table:

  • If you have a light-colored wooden table, decorate it with dark candlesticks or a dark vase.
  • Keep it all natural by decorating your wooden table with some succulents or small potted plants, or stick to grey-green cut plants in wooden vases.
  • Place a woven basket with fruits on the table, or hang woven baskets on the wall next to the table.

Written by
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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