Dining Room Design – 4 steps to design your perfect dining room

How to have a dining room even in a small space


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Dining room design is more important than ever as it’s not about what we eat, how we eat but rather where we eat.

There is something special about setting aside time in our busy lives to be present with family and friends and the best place for this is the dining room.

Eating together may seem like a small act but it is incredibly important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Researchers have found that eating alone can be incredibly alienating and we often make poorer food choices. Personally,  I become lazy if cooking just for myself, and conversely have more pride in what I’m preparing if it is going to be enjoyed by others. Nutritionist Samatha Paget summarises our perspective perfectly; “Eating healthy is about a lot more than the food we eat, it’s about being conscious and mindful while we eat, the environment around us should aid digestion and enjoyment”. 

So how do we create the perfect dining environment that will entice us to spend more time there? 

image source: @purecollectedliving

Tables – size matters in dining room design

The first and most important step is to understand your dining room space and where it will be situated within your home to determine the size.   The best way to do this is to grab a notebook and sketch a plan of your dining room to scale.  Remember to  include the surrounding walls, furniture and doors as these will all impact on the size of your table.  Alternatively, work backwards by grabbing some tape and mark the dimensions of your preferred table on the floor.  

We always aim for 900mm as a standard distance between the edge of the table and any walls / furniture etc. This will allow guests to easily move past anyone seated.  If space is limited then this distance can be squeezed down to 750mm, which will still allow for a chair to be pushed out comfortably. 

The finish of the table should really reflect your household needs. As we are a sustainable interior design firm, we always advocate for natural materials such as timber or stone.  Timber, especially with the right finish (wax or a low VOC lacquer) will be extremely hard wearing and absorb the blows from family life.  If you love the look of a marble table but need a finish that will not stain as easily, then consider quartzite or even granite.  They are harder and less porous than marble and surprisingly have patterns that emulate marble veins.  

image source: @madeleineblanchfieldarchitects

Dining Chairs – understand your needs 

High or low back, upholstered or timber, side or arms, your chair choice really depends on what style is dictating your dining room design.  If your dining room is a small space  then we would recommend lower backed chairs that are open so as to not visually reduce the appearance of the space.  If space is really tight then our preference is to design a fixed or loose upholstered bench.  There are so many options on the market which look just as good as chairs yet can be easily tucked under when not in use. 

Check and double check the seat height and your dining table height, the ideal spacing is 260mm, 240mm is the minimum and 300mm is the maximum.  Too high or too low will make for an uncomfortable dining experience. 

image source: @thedesignfiles

Lighting – set the mood 

Alternative sources of lighting such as wall sconces and lamps will transform your dining room design.  Even if the decor isn’t exactly what you want, warm and soft ambient lighting will make all the difference. For home lighting always choose 2700 Kelvin which is the perfect warm white light temperature. Not only will this make the space feel lovely and cosy but it also assists in supporting your circadian rhythm. 

Related : Our complete guide on good light vs bad light and how it affects home design and your health  

image source: @theenglishroom

Rug – zone the area 

We love open plan living, boundaries are blurred between the kitchen and dining room  and family members can be involved in different activities within the same area.  In saying this, it is important to visually define areas that reside within the one larger space as it helps to achieve a sense of grounding. A rug under the table is the easiest way to define the dining room space.  We would recommend natural fibre rugs such as wool, sisal or jute in these key areas. They will help to insulate the room, assist with acoustics and have lower levels of toxins … sustainable interior design never looked so good!


We’re two down-to-earth Aussie gals sharing a passion for quality design and designing spaces that improve your well-being.


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