Buyer's Guides

Furniture and Lighting for Every Dining Room Design

With open-concept homes and unique kitchen and dining room layouts, the dining room is no longer a simple square space reserved for special occasions.

Whether you’re moving into a new home or planning a complete dining room do-over, here’s a look at the most common dining room layouts with dining room furniture and lighting ideas to inspire your buying process.

The Standalone Dining Room

Varaluz Plaza Eight Light Pendant Light

A room designated solely for dining; the standalone dining room is the most traditional type of dining area. Usually centered around a dining table, this is the perfect space to showcase a large statement chandelier or pendant dining room lighting. A minimalist chandelier that combines eye-pleasing symmetry with softly diffused light makes a striking focal point above the dining table.

For a chic modern dining room that is both approachable and refined enough for entertaining, forgo boxy wood pieces and opt for dining room furniture that combines airy, ethereal elements with solid silhouettes. The result is a dramatic dining space, versatile enough for intimate gatherings or lavish entertaining.

Kitchen with Dining Area

Corbett Lighting Utopia LED Pendant Light [Design: Anne Sage & Caroline Lee]
A kitchen and dining room combination is the perfect set up for everyday family meals and cooking with friends. A round dining table creates a space that is both cozy and intimate. Since these dining areas are generally smaller than designated dining rooms, a round table lends an airy, uncluttered visual while making it easier to walk around in tight spaces. Armless chairs with slender silhouettes add to the spacious feeling. A trio of mini pendant lights hung at varying intervals becomes a work of art that brightens up the eating space.

Kitchen Island

Copeland Furniture Axis Counter Stool

Many designers consider the kitchen island the MVP of the home. These versatile counters offer everything from a place to prep food and stow away dishes to a cozy spot for casual dining. Throw a party and eventually, everyone congregates in the kitchen.

When it comes to lighting your kitchen island, serious chefs might rely on pot lighting in the ceiling for food prep and use pendant lights above the island for ambient light for diners. Typically, pendants hang 28 to 34 inches above the countertop or high enough that while standing you are not staring directly into the lights.

Since a kitchen island is created to accommodate standing use, stools will need to be added to allow for dining and seating. So how many stools should your kitchen island have? To allow space for knees and elbows, home design experts say to allow 28 to 30 inches of counter width for each space. Divide the length of the counter by 30 to see how many stools will fit comfortably.

Here are some basics when it comes to stool height:

• Counter stools: Designed for counters that are the standard 36 inches tall. Counter stool seat heights range from 24 to 26 inches.
• Bar stools: Meant for higher counters with a step-up of about 6 inches from the rest of the kitchen island. They are usually about 42 inches high.
• Stadium or spectator stools: The tallest, these stools are for 48 inch high tables or counters. (Picture a bar behind a sofa for TV viewing.)

The Dining Nook

Mitzi Avery Pendant Light [Homeowner: Mary Iteriano of This Thrifted Abode]
A dining nook is the ultimate spot for morning coffee or a cozy dinner for two. Setting up your nook by a large window invites the morning light but for those dull days or evening meals, the right dining room lighting makes even the tiniest space feel bright and airy. Make an impact with a colorful pendant light placed above the table.

A bench with plenty of pillows adds to the comfort quotient and offers opportunities to change out the color scheme to suit the season.

Open Concept Living and Dining Room Combo

Omnia XL Extension Table, Bess Low Chair

A dining/living room combo is a great way to maximize space and create a fluid, airy space. When combining a living and dining room, floating a sofa between the two areas, with the sofa back facing the dining room will help define the spaces.

A neutral color palette in a range of hues, shades and textures is far from boring and the ultimate unifying element. A large centerpiece dining table in natural wood tones brings a fresh, clean element to the space, perfect for family dinners and entertaining alike. Dining chairs in harmonizing shades add to the overall ease and elegance of the space.

A solitary chandelier or pendant isn’t always adequate lighting above large dining tables. Consider a pair of large drum pendant lights at each end. Placed on a dimmer, these dining room lights provide task lighting when needed and ambiance for dining.

Last but not least, throw down a zone-defining textured area rug for the perfect balance of relaxed and refined.

Mini Basketweave Floor Mat from Chilewich


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