Modern dining room ideas – 12 contemporary ways to decorate your dining space

Learn how to create a modern dining room with our contemporary updates

Modern dining room ideas
(Image credit: Michael Sinclair)

These modern dining room ideas are sleek, streamlined and perfect for contemporary homes.

Whether you’re a lover of formal dinner parties, or your approach to mealtimes is more relaxed, how you decorate your dining room will have a big impact on its feel. 

Our key modern dining room ideas and design rules will guide you whatever your space – from a separate dining room to an eating zone in an open-plan area.

See more: Dining room ideas – inspiration for decorating and furnishing your space, whatever your style

How do I modernize my dining room?

With a more relaxed approach to living, many homes have done away with the traditional dining room in favour of an open-plan scheme. Other more compact spaces don’t have the square footage for a designated dining area. But it’s still possible to create a dining space with wow factor that works as a successful zone within an overall scheme.

Open-plan dining is a popular choice, with many contemporary schemes now eschewing the traditional dining room for a more informal area that blends neatly with kitchen and living space. In a large enough room, this works just as well for formal dining as informal. The key is to delineate the space. A generous sized rug, on which dining table and chairs sit, is a great way to do this, while the addition of large pendant lights hanging overhead further defines the zone.

Try combining a mixture of contemporary and rustic furniture, such as modern dining chairs with a farmhouse table, and unify the look by using just one or two colors throughout the room. Address the issues of acoustics and cooking odours too – rugs and soft furnishings will help absorb noise.

Placement is another important factor to consider. A dining table is best placed near patio doors and, if space allows, you might consider an informal seating area, perhaps centered around a wood-burning stove. It’s also a good idea to include a separate utility room where white goods can be stowed away from sight.

Modern dining room ideas

Contemporary dining rooms needn't be so slick they're cold – you can use color, pattern and beautiful furniture and accessories to add character and interest. These are our favorite rooms.

1. Keep it pure and simple

(Image credit: Damian Russell)

Forgo an overload of color for a quieter story of considered, understated forms and textures. Look beyond seasonal fads to create a scheme that is timeless and elegant. Jet black accents always add definition and form. Here they are paired with the softening touch of a wallpaper inspired by silver birch for a fresh and contemporary effect.

2. Get creative with pattern

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

The latest look for modern dining rooms see lively color and geometric designs taking centre stage. Carpet tiles are not an obvious choice for home interiors, but have been used to striking effect in this dining space. The tones are echoed in the curtains and upholstery; otherwise the scheme is white, for a relaxed, modern feel.

3. Curate a contemporary coastal scheme

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

Breath new life into a classic coastal look with a breezy palette of blues, from soft shades of pale sky through to denim, teal and Breton navy, all complemented by pops of vibrant red. Here hints of ice blue in the seating and window frame are all that’s needed to balance the more punchy reds.

4. Dress with dramatic florals

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

Celebrate the resurgence of rich, bold prints by showing them off in a neutral, pared-back setting for an easy-to-live-with look. Introducing bold florals to your decorating scheme may feel a little daunting, but the key to showing them off to their best advantage is restraint. Here, a large floral print on the dining chairs makes a striking statement against a backdrop of carefully coordinated plains.

5. Create a bright feature wall to match

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Damian Russell)

A palette of primary colors is an easy way to add a modern element to a dining room. Hockney’s cheerful confidence with color is honoured in this vibrant dining space by using robust primary shades on the walls, floor and furniture. The look is counterbalanced by painterly brushstrokes on delicate ceramics.

6. Introduce murals to create a view

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

Celebrate the exuberant charm of murals with a statement wallcovering. Decorate with fantastical scenes and stylised inky imagery and fine architectural drawings. An enchanting secret garden scene flourishes around all four walls, creating an intimate space for entertaining. 

Simple curtains and furniture in contemporary shapes act as a foil to the whimsical feel, while the framed prints continue the theme as companions to the birds fluttering across the mural.

7. Take a down to earth approach

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair)

Be inspired by nature by decorating with an autumnal palette of chestnut and terracotta. Invest in wood furniture and accessories with chic leather details and textural weaves. A dark wood panelled wall creates an intimate feel in this dining space, where a trio of mismatched glass pendants lend sculptural interest. The black-and-white rug brings a sharp hit of pattern and a crisp modern note to the room.

8. Define the space with an area rug

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

The new emphasis of furniture and textiles that lend texture to a scheme has precipitated a revival in all forms of weaving, from simple, sculptural baskets to seventies inspired wicker, macrame and rattan. A large woven rug helps to define the dining area of this open-plan living space, while the distinctive lampshade, reminiscent of a straw hat, introduces a note of whimsy to the scheme.

9. Add accents of warm color

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

Red is having something of a revival and is an excellent choice for modern dining room schemes. This bold hue is often considered a daring choice for interiors, but used creatively it can introduce a welcome burst of energy and flamboyance.

Vivid hits of red on the chairs, console and framed antique prints punctuate the rich grey interior. The grand proportions of the room carry off this striking combination with aplomb.

10. Pretty up with pink

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

Dress your dining room with upbeat corals and rich tones of raspberry and fuchsia to create a sense of romance, sophistication and fun. Bold pink and statement pieces in a dining area look bright and fresh by day and atmospheric in candlelight by night. Touches of gold add another layer to the room, creating a glamorous counterpoint to dark wood.

11. Elevate your modern dining room with lighting

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Bring a sculptural presence to your room with an eye-catching pendant light fixture. Functional and attractive lighting is an essential feature of a modern dining room. Modern pendant lighting is very on-trend right now, with the shops full of affordable and stylish designs. Options come in a variety of styles, sizes and finishes – from contemporary copper, to vintage enamel.

Whether you choose to install a single light, or make a statement by hanging in a group, pendant lights are a great way to add colour, or enhance a decorating style. By hanging pendants over a dining table or breakfast bar, you will create a focal point; and a dimmer switch will control the mood.

12. Create vintage appeal

Modern dining room ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Teaming a simple modern table with classic dining chairs brings a traditional style up to date. Placing the furniture by a window shows off its silhouettes to great effect. Add drama and intrigue with an industrial-style pendant light, marble vase and glassware.

13. Build in a banquette

Modern dining room ideas - banquette

(Image credit: Stefani Stein)

Perfect in a small modern dining room, banquettes, particularly when upholstered, look incredibly smart and can lift the look of an open-plan kitchen diner and bring an element of comfort to the space too. This banquette was designed by LA-based interior designer Stefani Stein who is well known for her practical but elegant schemes.

See more: Small dining room ideas – dining solutions for tiny spaces

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

There is a vast choice of dining tables available, in all styles and to suit all budgets. The available space, as well as the numbers you tend to cater for will all inform your choice but do think about how the size and shape of the table will sit in the space too – it needs to be in proportion.

Extending tables are the versatile option. Round tables can be more convivial if you are seating up to 8, beyond that, a long rectangle offers more accessible space. Think about where the legs will fall. A central pedestal on a round table ensures no one gets stuck straddling a leg. Design shops, furniture specialists and department stores all offer a great deal of choice and, with the formal dining room falling out of fashion, antique and second-hand retro pieces are readily available and very affordable too.

Whether you have a simple wooden table, or a space-age contemporary design, adding modern chairs can give your dining space a whole new look. Go for white ones for an effortless safe choice, but if you want something with a real wow-factor, be daring with a colourful design. With so many modern styles to choose from, you should have no trouble in finding a perfect match for your home.

How do I decorate a small dining room?

Even very small spaces can often accommodate a dining area. In a compact kitchen, consider using banquette seating, fitted into a corner or even on one side of an island, to create a cosy dining spot, while in living areas, try using the space creatively: window seating can be combined with a table for impromptu dining, while extendable tables can provide multi- functional space. Hallways and studies can also work well as dining areas. Consider a round table in a large hall, while a study or book-filled library with a table at its centre can create atmospheric dining options.

Lighting is an immediate and effective zoning option. It’s another tool that segments the different functionality of the space. 'Consider using soft but effective under lighting in the dining room, which allows sufficient light to put the final touches to one's food, but is discreet enough not to dominate,' advises Julie Paul, Head of Interior Design, OKA. 'Try a mixture of striking pendant lights, chic floor lamps and colorful table lights.’