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dining room

We polled our Freshome team to come up with a list of must-haves for a dream dining room. Image: Urbanology Designs

The dining room is such an interesting part of the home. It’s gone through a number of transformations over the years. It first served as a mark of wealth, setting apart families who could afford the extra square footage to dedicate an entire room just to eating. Then, it fell out of favor. As dinnertime because less of a formal affair, many families turned to casual eating areas like breakfast nooks (or even the couch in front of the TV) as the primary spot to dine. Today, all too many dining rooms sit sad and vacant.

It’s time to reclaim this space! Because the dining room isn’t used as much as, say, the kitchen or master bedroom, it’s an exciting design opportunity. You can take some risks and make bold choices. When you do, you turn the space into something visually interesting that might entice your family to make more use of the room.

At Freshome, we love the idea of doing something extra fun with dining rooms. We’ve dreamed up some ways to help you breathe life into yours. Whether you’ve got a large formal dining room or are working with a compact corner of a room, these are the things you need – according to our Freshome team – to create a dining room you’ll love.

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dining room seating

Plenty of seating creates a welcoming dining room – and makes it more likely to actually get used. Image: Envision Custom Homes

Set out seating

A good dining room needs a place where people can dine. If you’ve got the space, set up a table that seats at least eight. Hosting friends and family just got that much easier! We love a large, sturdy dining table – like the 96″ Sydney Dining Table from Wayfair – as a way to establish your dining room. If you’re tighter on space, a smaller table can work just as well.

Extendable dining tables can help you find a middle ground between roominess when the space isn’t in use and functionality when you’ve got a handful of people coming over for dinner. Either way, find a table you love and you can build from there.

Once you have your table picked, it’s time for more fun shopping. Your dining chairs set the tone for the room. Think of your dining table like the sofa in your living room and your dining chairs as the accent pillows. This is a place to have some fun! Maybe you want to go traditional, like the Hayes Tufted Chairs from Pottery Barn, or mod, like the Mid-century Chairs from Target. When it comes to dining chairs, your options are virtually endless. As proof, we’ve rounded up some great dining chair options for you.

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dining room bar cart

A bar cart is a chance to add a pop of personality to your dining room. Image: Wolfe Design House

Build out your bar cart

If you’re the kind of family that sits down together for dinner every night, your dining room will get more use than most. If, however, you primarily gather around the table when you’re entertaining, you still need a dining space that will meet your needs. Building out a bar cart ensures that you’re set up for whatever the night has in store.

Much like your dining chairs, your bar cart is a design opportunity. Don’t be afraid to choose something fun. We love the Mid-Century Bar Cart from West Elm, but you could also go sleek with an all-chrome cart, find a truly vintage piece at your local antique store or add casters to a small bookcase for a DIY solution. If you’re ready to live that lush life, we’ve got a list of fabulous bar carts – and they’re all under $300.

Once you’ve picked the cart itself, the fun continues. Start gathering glasses, decanters, bottles and the other essentials. Pick up a bouquet of fresh blooms or a scented candle. Adding little touches you love to your bar cart gives your dining room personality and keeps it from feeling stuffy.

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dining room accent wall

Your dining room is a place to play with design. A bold accent wall is just the thing. Image: Duet Design Group

Work on your walls

Like we said, because your dining room is less used than other spaces in your home, it’s a place to go big with your design. If you’ve ever wanted to try a bold wallpaper, a bright accent wall or a major piece of wall art, this is the place. We love making a big statement with your dining room walls.

You can choose a unique paint color (why not black?) or striking wallpaper (we love the options from de Gournay). An accent wall covered in Palm Wallpaper from CB2 or hung up with some large-scale, eye-catching art is just the thing to transform your dining room. You know those design ideas you’ve had pinned on Pinterest for years but never had the guts to try? This is the place to finally put them into practice.

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dining room - storage

Adding storage to your dining room makes entertaining easier. Image: Granger Family Homes

Set up storage

When you invite people over for dinner, the last thing you want is to spend the evening running around. Adding convenient storage to your dining space makes the entire evening easier, from the moment you start setting the table to clearing the dessert dishes.

Create a space in your dining area where you can store dishes, salt and pepper shakers and whatever else you find yourself running to the kitchen for during a meal. A couple of our Freshome picks include a vintage hutch sourced from your local antique store or a sideboard with lots of drawers, like this Beaufort Farmhouse Sideboard. Or, if you have the space to add built-ins, go for it. Again, this is a chance to expand the design of your dining room. Feel free to go bold and choose a piece of furniture you truly love.

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dining room 2

What would we find in your perfect dining room? Image: Studio G Interior Design

What’s in your dream dining room?

We had a lot of fun coming up with these key ways to make your dining room one of your favorite spaces. But, obviously, we didn’t cover everything. If you want to keep exploring ways to take your dining room’s design to a higher level, we’ve got a list of four ways you can get started.

What would your dream dining room contain? Statement lighting? A knockout centerpiece? Tell us all about it in the comments.