In my 20 years as an interior designer, I’ve witnessed subtle shifts and changes in home dynamics. But post-Covid, there’s been an undeniable metamorphosis—the home is no longer just a dwelling but a sanctuary, a temple to holistic well-being. Gone are the days of homes as mere showpieces; the contemporary abode is a powerful balm that soothes and restores us.
Nowhere is this evolution more evident than in the rebirth of the dining room. For many years, I had watched as dining rooms diminished in importance. Homeowners were electing to do without one altogether and for those with the luxury of space, the room was often reserved only for occasional celebratory feasts.
But today, the tide has turned and the dining room is blossoming into the vibrant heart of our homes. – Interior designer, Nikki Hunt
Dining rooms create family time
Across the globe, homeowners are awakening to the beautiful simplicity of enjoying meals with our dear ones. Pulling up a chair and dining together isn’t just about tradition—it’s a boost for our well-being. When we gather around a table, we naturally slow down, truly taste our food, we are present for each other.
Sharing meals sparks a surge in the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, filling us with warmth and connection. This mindful eating helps us listen to our body’s cues and digest food better. The slower pace not only aids in digestion but has been linked to healthier eating habits and even weight loss.
Dining together enriches our souls just as much as our bodies.
The resurgence of the dining room is not just a design narrative—it’s the universe’s way of reminding us of our innate need for authentic connections and shared moments. Embrace it, and let your home be a testament to love, joy, and holistic well-being.
10 Dining room design tips
Through thoughtful design choices, we can craft spaces to encourage us to slow down, relax and enjoy real-life interactions. So let me share my top tips on crafting the perfect dining room space.
1. Dining room seating ideas
The heart of any dining space is how people relate to one another. Design your seating to be flexible, allowing for both intimate tête-à-têtes and larger gatherings. If space permits, consider having more than one dining spot.
In this townhouse (pictured above) I created a a cosy bar as well as bigger dining space for larger gatherings.
Dining rooms often come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and homeowners may need to carefully consider the available space when choosing seating arrangements. For instance, a small dining room may not be able to accommodate a large dining table and multiple chairs, while a large dining room may feel empty if it’s not filled with enough furniture.
2. Balcony dining table
A dining nook carved into a balcony can be a wonderful place for a breakfast or late night spot for a couple to enjoy.
Many Singaporeans live in apartments or condominiums with balconies, and they enjoy using their balconies for dining and entertaining. Balcony dining tables are also a good way to save space in a small apartment.
According to a survey by the Singapore Real Estate Association, approximately 80% of Singaporeans have balconies in their homes. Of these, 60% said that they use their balconies for dining at least once a week.
Balcony dining tables allow you to enjoy the outdoors, and can be a great way to save space in smaller apartments. Be sure to choose weather-resistant table and chairs!
3. Cushioned dining chairs
The longer people are comfortable, the longer they’ll stay and chat. Opt for cushioned chairs with supportive backs.
These cushioned dining chairs are generally more comfortable to sit in than uncushioned chairs, especially for long periods of time. The cushioning provides support for your back, hips, and thighs, and it can also help to reduce pressure points.
Thin black borders on the creamy wall panels and dining chairs bring out their clean simplicity.Interior design by Metaphor Studio
Even more ergonomic dining chairs typically may even come with features such as: lumbar support, adjustable seat height, swivel base, armrests, and waterfall seat edge to relief pressure from your thighs.
While your dining table and dining chairs do not have to come from the same collection, they do have to look good and work well together. And it’s all about the proportion. Make sure the tops of the arms don’t brush or bump the bottom of the tabletop. Bring your measuring tape to the shop to make sure.
4. Dining benches
A cosy bench on one side can add a casual touch and fit more people during larger gatherings.
Dining benches offer a space-saving solution compared to individual dining chairs. They can serve as additional seating for guests during gatherings or social events, accommodating more people than traditional dining chairs.
They can be easily tucked under the dining table when not in use, freeing up valuable floor area in compact dining spaces.
Quirky elements meet industrial chic: This convivial space is enlivened by the chalk scribbles on the blackboard paint wall.Interior design by Sponge
The owner cut length from both ends of the dining table to keep it in proportion with the bench. Mug and “book” box from Egg3.Interior design by The Interach Design
Additionally, dining benches can be repurposed as extra seating in living areas or even as makeshift desks or workspace.
5. Dining room upholstery
Ever been in a dining room so noisy that you had to raise your voice and yell at your friend?
Often times, dining rooms feature hard surfaces like hardwood floors, tile flooring, and large windows, which reflect sound waves and contribute to reverberation. This reverberation amplifies sound levels, making conversations louder and more difficult to understand.
Ethnicraft Bok Bench Black, $870 at Soul & Tables
Sound influences our emotional and physiological responses.
Soft surfaces like upholstered chairs, curtains, wallcoverings and carpets can absorb sound, reducing echoes and allowing for clearer conversation. This creates an environment where people can chat without straining to hear or be heard.
6. Dining room lighting
Lighting does more than just set the mood—it plays a crucial role in our biological processes too. Installing multiple layers of lights with dimmer switches allows the flexibility to get the ambience just right. Bright lights are great for daytime meals, reflecting our natural circadian rhythms.
For evening, dimming the lights creates a cosier ambiance for intimate dinners. The soft light helps to reset the bodies circadian rhythms, signalling our body that it’s time to wind down.
The softer lighting can induce the release of hormones that promote relaxation too.
7. Dining table decor
Crafting a beautiful dining table decor is an artful gesture that can make your guests feel truly cherished. When a host dedicates time and effort into meticulously arranging every element on the table, it’s a silent testament to their appreciation for the company gathered.
From selecting a theme-appropriate tablecloth to arranging blooms in a centrepiece, every detail speaks volumes. Elegant flatware, coordinated serviette folds, and carefully chosen dishware are not just decorative, but they’re indicative of the care the host has poured into the event.
Such a thoughtful display inherently encourages guests to immerse themselves in the moment, to relish the meal, and to truly engage with those around them. It sends a clear message: this meal, this evening, is a special one.
8. Dining room colour
Color is an experiential tool. Choose shades that elicit the desired emotions. While cooler hues can create a serene environment, warmer tones can stimulate appetite and conversation.
The colors in a dining room play a significant role in setting the mood and ambiance for dining experiences. They can influence appetite, emotions, and overall dining satisfaction.
Warm and inviting shades of red, orange, and yellow, for instance, can stimulate appetite, and evoke a sense of energy and excitement.
A darker dining room naturally comes across as more formal and sophisticated. Light colours, on the other hand, create a sense of spaciousness and cosiness.
9. Dining table shape
The shape and size of your dining table depends on the dimension of the room, plus the capacity that you want.
Dining table size
Give each diner at least 60cm space from each other to dine comfortably. Leave out at least 90cm between the wall of the room and the dining chair. The narrowest end of a rectangular table should be at least 90cm to seat one diner, or 120cm to seat two.
Does your dining table double as a work table? Consider one with power cable access or a bar-height table for standing desk.
Round dining tables
Round tables naturally promote conversation as everyone can see each other, making it easier to engage in discussions. There are no “head” or “end” positions, making everyone feel equally important.
A round dining table is perfect for smaller spaces or open-concept dining areas! Design-wise, because it has no edges, it doesn’t cut into circulation routes when you place it in an open-plan space. Its shape also helps break up the monotony of angular structures, that make up most interiors!
Square oval dining table
Or you could consider an octagonal shape. This is my favourite because it is a unique and unexpected choice which sparks interest. The tapered shape, draws guests even closer together.
10. Dining room rug
Crafting a cosy area within an open plan space can be challenging. Using rugs or different flooring, or dropping the ceiling over the table can define the dining space, making it feel special and purposeful.
Beyond the visual elements, consider the other senses. Soft background music will elevate the ambiance, while a beautiful centrepiece with fresh flowers or a scented candle can add a delightful scent to the room.
The tactile sensation of unique table cloths or napkins, the clink of glasses, and the hum of conversation—all these sensory experiences converge to create a memorable and engaging environment. There’s an undeniable magic in these shared meals, where conversations flow effortlessly and memories are crafted.
A well-designed dining room not only adds to this magic but amplifies it. It brings forth an energy that spurs animated chats, emboldens us in our convictions, and, sometimes, even sparks a hint of romance. So, as we think about design, let’s not shy away from being audacious with our dining rooms.
Best Dining Table Material
The materials of your dining table directly correlate with its aesthetic and maintenance. Choosing the materials of your dining table is, therefore, a matter of balancing look and function.
Montana JW Table, from €3,173.09 at Montana Furniture
1. Wood dining table
Choose all solid wood for a stately look or combine with metal parts for a lighter impression. Or choose sustainable engineered woods or composite materials made of salvaged wood like chopsticks for a unique look.
Marble Baxter Ronchamp Table, price by request, from Space Furniture.
2. Stone dining table
Marble is the most popular natural choice, which will fetch a heavier price tag. Go with engineered stones or compact surfaces for the look, durability and the degree of customisability.
3. Plastic dining table
Some brands offer beautiful tables made of polycarbonate (PC) that are produced sustainably, which guarantees to make a good conversation starter.
Tonelli Bakkarat Alto Dining Table, $5,217 at P5 Studio
4. Glass dining table
Glass lends a touch of elegance and lightness. Take care to childproof it if you have active children.