dining room layout - recommendations from Old Fashioned Lumber

10 Expert Guidelines For The Perfect Dining Room Layout

In our expert guide, you'll find comprehensive advice on defining your dining room layout, addressing all considerations from color palettes to furniture selection, distilled into a straightforward sequence of 10 simple steps.


Seeking expert advice for designing a dining room? Dining rooms can be challenging spaces to perfect, requiring a delicate equilibrium between functionality (ensuring it accommodates the right number of people and has a layout that facilitates movement around the necessary furniture) and aesthetics (ensuring the room impresses your guests and captures the desired ambiance). But don't worry, we've consulted professionals who excel in crafting well-balanced dining rooms.

Whether you're adorning a dedicated dining room to serve as an elegant hosting haven or working with a kitchen-dining arrangement, these insights will guide you in making crucial decisions regarding color, furniture, layout, and more



When starting with the design of your dining room from a blank slate, prior to delving into considerations like color palettes and wallpaper designs, take a moment to ponder the primary purpose of the room. Will it primarily serve for hosting dinner parties, or will it also be used for relaxed family meals? Could it potentially function as a workspace, given the increased frequency of remote work? How many individuals do you intend to accommodate? Are you aiming for an intimate atmosphere or a more formal and sophisticated setting?

Fundamentally, you must ascertain the individuals, manner, and timing for the space's utilization, allowing these determinations to guide your furniture selection, color scheme, and arrangement. If you find yourself uncertain about the initial steps, we suggest adopting a traditional approach with a mood board – gather images that resonate with you, whether from magazines or online sources, and soon a prevailing theme will emerge. Additionally, draw inspiration from your preferred bars and restaurants, as they offer excellent outlets for unique decor concepts.

"Our initial approach involves inquiring with our clients about the frequency of their dining room usage, the average number of individuals expected to be seated at the table, and the style of these gatherings – whether they lean towards formal, plated dinners, buffet-style arrangements from a nearby surface, or the communal passing of dishes around the table." says Zakhar of Old Fashioned Lumber.

"Their responses will shape the dimensions and ratios of the space. If they require adaptability in table dimensions, like the option to extend the table, this will impact the arrangement of adjacent spaces. We also strive for a cohesive ambiance within the room, pinpointing the predominant focal points. At times, it could be the lighting fixture, occasionally a distinctive wall or ceiling embellishment, and in some instances, a color introduced through the chairs or window dressings."

dining room layout recommendations - Old Fashioned Lumber



You might be retaining the existing floors, but despite its practicality, the flooring in a dining room plays a crucial role in ensuring its functionality. The dining room floor should not only possess an appealing appearance but also be highly functional. These areas experience heavy foot traffic and are vulnerable to spills and stains, necessitating durable and aesthetic flooring solutions.

"When deciding on the appropriate flooring for your dining room, there are three primary factors to take into account: the style and design, the level of durability, and the ease of maintenance." Explains Don Woodard at Old Fashioned Lumber.

"Dining areas commonly experience significant foot traffic, making it advisable to select high-quality, resilient flooring that requires minimal upkeep and remains durable over time. Given the likelihood of spills and stains from food and beverages, opting for a material that can be easily cleaned is crucial, especially during social gatherings. Opting for darker designs and styles can help mask everyday blemishes to some extent.

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When designing a dining room, solid flooring is a prevalent choice for many households that frequently welcome guests. Engineered wood presents a top-tier solution, offering both endurance and an appealing appearance. If you desire a tactile element, you can incorporate rugs for added visual interest through color and pattern."



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When formulating your dining room's design, it's imperative to plan the lighting at an early stage, as it holds significant influence over the overall room atmosphere. Striking the right balance is key: ensuring sufficient illumination to prevent the room from feeling dim while maintaining a warm and inviting ambiance. It's advisable to avoid overly intense downward lighting, as it can cast uncomfortable shadows and create isolated pockets of light rather than a gentle dispersion throughout the space.

Aim for a diverse array of light sources – a chandelier or pendant light can elegantly hang above the dining table, acting as a prominent focal point. Complement this with lights positioned at eye level around the room's periphery, achieved through lamps or sconces.

For rooms that serve practical purposes like work or frequent daily dining, contemplate incorporating dimmer switches. This allows you to effortlessly alter the room's mood based on its intended use.


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Transitioning from the practical aspects of dining room design to the more enjoyable and imaginative choices, let's talk about color. The dining room's chosen color scheme will revolve around the desired overall ambiance – do you lean toward a dark and opulent feel or prefer something light and airy?

Again, these choices should reflect the room's frequency of use and the time of day it's most occupied. If it's often utilized for breakfasts and lunches, opting for very dark tones might feel a touch overwhelming; sticking with neutrals or experimenting with blues and greens could be more suitable. However, if the room is primarily intended for evening entertainment, don't hesitate to embrace bold and rich shades.

Dining rooms frequently host formal social gatherings like evening dinner parties, often accompanied by ambient lighting such as candles and table lamps. Thus, consider hues that exude opulence and, one might even say, a touch of glamour!

During the 1990s, red was a frequently favored choice for dining room decor, as it was believed that the color red could boost metabolism. To re-explore this well-known concept while aiming for a more refined appearance, contemplate the intensely saturated Bordeaux red known as Preference Red. This lavish and profound wine red hue will immerse you in its opulence. For the trim, opt for a gentler white, as stark whites can contrast too strongly with red tones. Consider using a shade like Stony Ground, with its earthy undertone that complements the chosen red beautifully.


Paint isn't the sole method to unify a color scheme; dining room wallpaper provides a simple means of introducing patterns, color, and texture to a space. The vibrant, vivid colors and prints present in this area highlight our belief that dining rooms are spaces where you should venture beyond the ordinary. Embrace the opportunity for creativity and select unconventional patterns that might seem excessive for your more everyday living spaces.

Being a space that brings together cuisine, wine, and cherished company, the dining room holds distinctive significance and merits an impactful presence. Consequently, the inclusion of a stunning wallpaper or wall mural is consistently an excellent notion.

Bringing an immediate infusion of color and design, wallpaper possesses the ability to swiftly transform the ambiance of a room, triggering memories or transporting you to picturesque locations. When making your choice for dining area wallpaper, our suggestion is to consistently opt for bold selections. A wonderfully daring wallpaper, be it adorned with botanical, geometric, or abstract motifs, serves as a catalyst for engaging conversations and furnishes an impeccable setting for hosting dinner parties. Additionally, the burst of color and pattern introduced by wallpaper also has the remarkable ability to elevate everyday family meals into special occasions.


Undoubtedly, a pivotal aspect of dining room design revolves around the dining table and chairs. This isn't a decision to be taken lightly; deliberate thoroughly on the size and shape that best complements your available space. Reflect on the number of individuals you wish to accommodate during your gatherings. Would an extendable table offer versatility or would a circular table allow for more flexible chair arrangement?

We'd even propose taking it a step further – lay down masking tape to outline the potential dimensions in your space. This helps visualize the appearance and mobility of the furniture arrangement.

Additionally, ensure that everything is proportionate. A small table amidst a vast expanse of flooring could appear incongruous. For more spacious rooms, consider a lengthy rectangular table design that fills the area gracefully. When crafting a dining room, prioritize comfort.

Our approach often envisions a lengthy, convivial dinner party, making comfortable chairs and a sizable table essential. Also, establish a connection with the outdoors; in this instance, we've opted for a malachite green, tying into the proximity of the garden through the French doors.


The perception might suggest that dining room layouts are somewhat restricted – a table at the center, encircled by chairs – is there more to it? Indeed, this configuration is logical, but it isn't the sole option, especially if your dining space is compact. It's essential to consider additional furniture and seating elements, as well as the room's orientation.

For a smaller dining room, you could enhance comfort by situating the dining area in a corner. A blend of a circular table, a couple of chairs, and a built-in banquette creates a cozy setup. This approach leaves room for potentially introducing a secondary seating area comprising a loveseat and a bar cart, establishing a distinct zone within the room.

In larger dining spaces, you could opt to position the table at the center and incorporate bookshelves or console tables along the room's periphery. These multifunctional pieces can also serve as storage for glassware and tableware.

Zakhar Smirnov's primary guideline regarding dining room arrangements is to consistently provide a walkway of 30 to 36 inches between substantial furniture items (when feasible for your dining space), or a minimum of 18 to 24 inches if space is limited. Ensure there's at least a 24-inch clearance all around your dining table to allow unobstructed movement, enabling guests to navigate freely without inconveniencing others during social gatherings.


Speaking of storage, having additional surface space for beverages and decorations, along with a designated area for glassware or tableware, can prove quite advantageous. According to Zakhar Smirnov from Old Fashioned Lumber, "efficient storage is a fundamental aspect of a contemporary dining room. It contributes to creating a relaxed atmosphere, and if thoughtfully designed, ensures that items like drinks, cutlery, and crockery are conveniently accessible yet discreetly concealed, fostering a casual and unpretentious ambiance. For those who revel in socializing, the inclusion of a standalone larder-style cupboard, possibly featuring an integrated wine rack, adds both practicality and elegance to the dining experience."

Console tables also serve as excellent storage solutions in a dining room, while also offering a platform for additional lighting and embellishments in a space that typically requires minimal clutter. The vital aspect to bear in mind is that your console table should always be taller than the dining table, directing focus towards the display and minimizing interruptions caused by the table's presence.


Area rugs provide an elegant means of anchoring a dining table while infusing texture, design, and color. The key factor lies in selecting the appropriate dimensions: the rug should be large enough to accommodate the dining table and chairs comfortably, while still allowing some flooring to remain visible. Emily's guideline for dining room rugs suggests leaving a minimum of 36 inches between the table's edge and the rug's edge. For an average dining table, a rug width of at least 8 feet is required, ensuring ample space for pulling out chairs without extending beyond the rug's boundaries.

Furthermore, consider the rug's material. Steer clear of long-pile options, as dining rooms are designated spaces for dining and beverages, making spills and stains inevitable. Opt for a robust material like jute that can withstand the demands of the environment.


Next comes the realm of decor, allowing you to infuse your personal flair into the space. Our affinity for gallery walls in dining rooms is rooted in their ability to bestow ample character upon a room while occupying no floor area. The added bonus is that you can alter them at your discretion to refresh the ambiance.

Donald underscores, "Given the proportions of a standard dining room, it often presents the largest unadorned wall in a home, presenting an exceptional opportunity to feature either a substantial artwork or a series, all while captivating the attention of its observers."

Before commencing the hanging process, it's advisable to lay out the arrangement on the floor. Diverging from a uniform grid, consider mixing and matching frames, hanging them somewhat sporadically to achieve a more casual and stylish appearance. Additionally, integrate objects amidst the prints – plates, for instance, work splendidly in a dining room, lending more texture and intrigue to the gallery wall.


The optimal arrangement for a dining room hinges on the room's size and the ambiance you aim to establish. If a sophisticated and formal atmosphere is your preference, a simple approach is recommended. Opt for an elongated rectangular table placed along the center, accompanied by an adequate number of chairs to ensure ample space for all guests. Enhance the arrangement with a console table positioned at one end, adorned with a pair of tall lamps to create a symmetrical visual that exudes elegance.

For smaller dining rooms or if your goal is to cultivate a cozier and more intimate environment, consider a circular table. Position it at the center if space permits, grounding it with a circular rug. Alternatively, shift the table slightly towards a corner, transforming the rest of the room into a casual gathering area for pre-meal entertainment. Incorporate a loveseat and a bar cart for added comfort and convenience.


"Ensuring comfortable chairs is absolutely crucial. The success of a dinner hinges on the ability to sit comfortably for extended periods. Equally significant is the lighting, and the capacity to adjust it as per the ambiance required. Our approach involves blending various lighting sources – recessed lights, a central fixture, integrated millwork lighting, and occasionally sconces," emphasizes Zakhar.

Incorporating storage through a dresser, console table, or credenza proves consistently practical for beverages and additional tableware. Even if space is limited, a drinks trolley can serve as a repository for glasses and bottles, eliminating the need for frequent trips to the kitchen.

Candles hold a pivotal place in our essentials list too! Our preference leans toward unscented taper candles, while also scattering tea lights within charming holders to diffuse a warm, radiant illumination across any surface they adorn.


After these recommendations, we encourage you to start working on your dining room layout, if you need assistance or ideas for your home, we invite you to get in contact with Old Fashioned Lumber.

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