If you’re lucky enough to have one on your floor plan, the dining room can be the crown jewel of the home. Unlike the kitchen counter, which tends to get crowded with, well, stuff, or the living room that needs constant vacuuming touch-ups, the dining room gets to exist in an idyllic in-between state—plates set, tapers standing at the ready, surfaces clear.
As nice as it is to catch a glimpse of a more glamorous, pulled-together version of your home, that’s not really what dining rooms are for. They’re meant to be used—for entertaining neighbors, dining with friends, and welcoming family. This is why we find ourselves favoring more modern, effortless designs when it comes to dining rooms lately.
Modern design fits perfectly with a dining room, according to writer Sarah Zlotnick. “Because dining rooms aren’t always regularly used in a home, they’re a great opportunity to step out of your design comfort zone,” she says. “You can be bolder with your choices because you won’t have to look at them all the time—and being bold is a crucial part of modern style. Dining rooms are where we entertain guests, so you want to invoke curiosity. Discussing décor is the perfect way to kick off an evening of dinner conversation.”
Meet the Expert
Sarah Zlotnick is a longtime lifestyle journalist and contributing writer for MyDomaine. Her work has also appeared in Brides, Refinery29, Vox, and Philadelphia magazine.
If you’re on the same wavelength, welcome. Click through for our favorite modern dining rooms, and ditch the stuffy setup of old this season. It might not always be polished and pristine, but we can promise you’ll get a lot more memories out of it.
Keep It Open and Airy
In a picturesque, windowed room like this, taking a modern and sleek approach to designing a dining room is a no-brainer. Natural materials and muted tones take center stage here, echoing the landscape outside and infusing the space with a feeling of calm that’s welcoming and casual, not stuffy.
Embrace Black Paint
Because it’s typically not one of the regularly used rooms of the house, a dining room is a perfect opportunity to get a little more daring with your design choices. Black wainscoting is a chic way to bring the drama, especially when paired with moody floral wallpaper and plenty of natural light.
In dating, it’s a major no-no, but in interior design, you’ll get nothing short of a seal of approval from us when it comes to going all-in on the ghost—we’re talking about chairs, of course. Clear acrylic ghost chairs are an easy, goes-with-anything way to add a touch of modernity to any room.
Added bonus: their transparency makes small rooms feel less crowded.
Create a Modern Mix
This dining room just goes to show that achieving a chic, modern vibe can be subtle, too. In place of a traditional matching set of 6 dining chairs, this design substitutes in a long bench with playful patterned pillows at one side.
This dining room embraces a less formal setup and the home embraces an open floor plan, which adds to the character of the dining room. “When all of your living spaces are visible at once, you want them all to feel cohesive,” Zlotnick explains. “That generally rules out the option of having a dining area that feels separate, distinct, and too formal to get regular use.”
Replace Your Rectangular Table
Round dining tables are quickly replacing large rectangular ones as a go-to, and we’re fully on board. Not only are round tables better adapted to uniquely shaped spaces, but we think they make for better conversation, too. This modern option balances sleek lines with cozy warmth, topping Eames-style chairs with soft sheepskin throws. But the piece de resistence is the light fixture, which is a true showstopper.
Mind Your Minimalism
We’ve never seen minimalism look so inviting. A mix of complimentary—but not-quite coordinating—chairs are joined by upholstered benches, adding both seating and a new element of softness to this space. Textural interplay is part of what makes it work, with the light wood table picking up on the cane of the chairs, while something warmer lays underfoot.
Want to help a small dining room feel larger? In lieu of an art piece, adorn the wall above your credenza with an oversized mirror. In addition to the reflection giving the illusion of more space, it’ll also bounce light from outside and make the room feel brighter. This means: your dining room can be just as much a spot for a casual breakfast as it is for special occasion suppers.
Go Big and Go Home
Feeding a crowd never looked so fashionable. We’re in love with the unique array of elements in this space, which borrows from a few different trendy design styles to create something completely one-of-a-kind. Modern farmhouse-inspired chairs intermingle with an oversized banquette seat—ideal for expanding the guest list on short notice—and the whole shebang is grounded by a stunning artisan table.
Add DIY Touches
“My family and I spend a lot of time in our dining room, and I wanted my kids to feel like they were at home,” designer Cachet Adams of Cachet Demain Interiors says. To that end, she hand-painted the accent wall, which was “a tedious undertaking, but cost-effective compared to wallpaper.”
She also recovered the vintage mid-century chairs in mud cloth, and used a wooden frame found on Facebook Marketplace to highlight a beloved Josephine Baker print. The resulting look: a homey, ultra-personalized space to match the vibrancy of the family occupying it.
Craft a Clean and Comfortable Space
Sensing a pattern? A great light fixture can be the ultimate way to ground your dining space, and infuse it with plenty of personality. The understated lines of these chic chairs and rustic wooden table strike the perfect balance between dressed-up and easygoing, so there’s always an excuse to invite a few friends for dinner.