Formal dining room decor

Nov 24, 2011 at 4:44 a.m. ET

With the growing popularity of kitchen bars and breakfast nooks, the value of having a formal dining room is often forgotten. The importance of a room where you can dine with loved ones and entertain a crowd, however, should not be brushed aside. Bring your formal dining room to life with a décor that suits your style.

Formal dining room

Pick a color

The days of floral wallpaper and pretty pinks are long gone. Your formal dining room should have a look that's classy, yet modern. Choose paint over paper and consider doing one or two walls in a dark color like brown or even black. If you can't ditch the wallpaper completely, contain it to one wall and go for an interesting pattern instead of a floral theme. Damask and Fleur-de-lis are popular and timeless choices.

Best and worst colors for each room in your house >>

Window treatments

Picking the perfect window treatments will make a huge impact on your dining room. The modern sheers that grace the windows in the rest of your home just aren't enough for this space. Try heavier fabrics and rich colors. For a big impact, hang the drapes from the top of the wall, near the ceiling. Allow them to hang all the way to the floor for a look that will elongate your windows and make the entire room look more formal. The Dupioni Silk Pole Pocket Drapes from Pottery Barn ($110 - $320) are available in several neutral colors and will dress up any dining room decor in seconds. Hang them over sheers for a layered look that will add depth to your room.


The table is the center of every dining room, so it sets the tone of the room. For a look that's truly formal, choose a dark wood, such as chestnut or walnut. A big table will be perfect for seating a crowd, but can take up a big chunk of your space. If you're tight on space, look for a table that starts off small and can be expanded when you're expecting company. The Bayhall Pedestal Table by Havertys (starting at $1400) comes with two leaves that add a total of 60 inches in length to the table, making it easy to transform your dining room from family-friendly to party-ready.

5 Stylish dining room tables >>

Wooden chairs offer a clean look, but can also be boring and uncomfortable to sit in for long periods of time. Instead, look for upholstered chairs, such as parsons chairs or armless sofas. Your guests will be thankful for the touch of comfort, and the fabric will add a bit of softness to your room.


No formal dining room is complete without a china cabinet to display your best dining sets and your shiniest crystal. The Ramona Formal Dining Room Hutch by Coaster ($1,100) is sleek and functional. The glass cabinet on top allows you to display your best china and crystal pieces, while the solid cabinets and drawers underneath allow you to store linens and serveware when they aren't in use.

If you don't have the space for a full-sized cabinet, consider a corner hutch. If you do a considerable amount of entertaining, you'll also need a buffet or another surface to set out dishes. These pieces are also handy for storing away your serving pieces when you're not entertaining.


Don't forget the ceiling when choosing the décor for your dining room. Drape your room in beauty with a graceful chandelier to complement the rest of the room. Choose one that's simple with clean lines to fit a modern room or select an ornate piece if your room is more traditional. Most of these pieces can be pricey, but a good deal can be found if you're on a budget. Search antique shops and garage sales for old chandeliers that no longer work. They can easily be rewired with kits from a home repair shop, so all they'll need a bit of a shine to bring your room to life.

Shopping for a chandelier >>


For a classy look that's never outdated, finish off your dining room with fresh flowers on the table.

More decor ideas

Decorating with what you have
Holiday decor: Top 5 tablescapes we love
Inspiration from fabric