How About Some Tips for Redecorating Our Dining Room?


We can't stand our dining room. It's tired, outdated, and our family never uses it. Do you have any great advice for us as we think about bulldozing the entire room and starting over again?  (Michelle from Buford, SC)


Michelle, thank you for writing in to us. We went to Cheryll Gillespie and our friends at casaGURU to give you some great dining room tips. Good luck!

Did you know that the style, textures and colors that you choose to decorate your dining room might actually stimulate your appetite? Conversely, they may also act as an appetite suppressant. Serving up good dining décor in your home can actually make guests feel more at home, increase their appetites and help to stimulate conversation, so it's important to consider many factors when you remodel your dining room.

Today’s dining room may need to serve more than just dinner. A dining room often serves double or even triple duty as the home office, sewing or craft room, library and reading room. For most of us, the days of the formal dining room serving a single purpose are long gone. So what is the best recipe for a simply sensational dining room?

Visualize the Future

  • Take a moment and envision the perfect dining room in your mind's eye.
  • If you love to entertain, you may want to keep the dining space strictly as a formal dining room.
  • If your family and lifestyle demands that the space also be used as homework central, a library, or craft room then plan the space accordingly.
  • Don’t try to fool yourself. Be practical and realistic about the demands that your family and lifestyle will place on the room.


  • Always plan a room from the ground up.
  • If you're thinking of replacing the existing flooring, you have many options to choose from. Again, think lifestyle and aesthetics.
  • A floor that looks great but is not easily cleaned is not practical. Hardwoods, ceramic tile, cork, and slate are all excellent options.
  • An area rug that is easy to remove for cleaning may be added to the room anytime and layed on top of almost any flooring material. The area carpet must be large enough so that dining chairs always have all four chair legs on the carpet, even when the chairs are pulled back from the table. Too often, I see area carpets in dining rooms that fit great until you actually sit at the table.
  • In any dining room, we want to linger and spend several hours enjoying good food and good company. A space is more inviting and conducive to lingering when it's defined. Inlaid ceramic borders and borders created with contrasting hardwoods are a good idea to help define the space of a room. They will also add a creative touch to ordinary hardwood or ceramic flooring.


  • When it comes to selecting the furniture for your space think "comfort." Comfortable chairs and a large table are essential ingredients to serving up great décor in the dining area.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match chairs. Not all chairs have to be the same. Perhaps you would like both fully-upholstered chairs and armchairs around the table. Reupholster chair seats and backs in seasonal fabrics to give your chairs a facelift. In cooler weather, try covering chair seats and backs in faux furs, lumber jacket plaids, or Christmas or wintery tapestries. In warmer weather, recover with denim, linen, vibrant silks, or tea toweling for cool cottage décor. Coverings can be reused repeatedly.
  • For the table itself, make sure that the table size can expand to accommodate a large party or shrink to become an intimate table for two.
  • A sideboard or serving buffet is also a luxurious addition. If space does not allow for a permanent side board, plan for a portable butler tray that can be set up to hold a bar during a cocktail party or used as a service tray or side board during a dinner party.


  • Lighting is another important dining décor element, and the one that is often overlooked.
  • If your dining space must serve double duty as a home office, craft room, or homework area for the kids then you will need to plan for good work light that can also be dimmed to create an ambience for dining.
  • Soft romantic light makes people feel more comfortable (and we all look better under soft lighting). Wall sconces are a good addition to your lighting plan and, of course, candlelight.

Window Coverings

  • Most dining rooms will have a window; plan to dress yours with floor-length drapery panels. Panels work with all decorating styles.
  • If the window is small, treat it with drapery that camouflages the size of the window: wall-to-wall drapery panels.
  • The drapery frames your view to the world, and dining while overlooking a spectacular city skyline or a mountain view is better than any painting. If the view is not that spectacular, simply close the drapery and focus on the view across the table.

Five Walls

  • There are five walls in your dining room. Treat them all with color and creativity.
  • The four vertical walls in your dining room can host both color and pattern. Large-scale patterns or heavily textured wallpapers are a designer’s trick for many outstanding dining rooms, regardless of the room’s actual dimensions. Pattern, color, and texture add warmth, charm, and sophistication to walls in small and large dining rooms.
  • The fifth wall, or ceiling, is another opportunity. Actually, it's the most often missed decorating opportunity in a room. Plan to paint the ceiling in a contrasting color, several tones lighter than the wall color, or have it faux-painted to look like a blue sky or perhaps a fresco painting.


  • In the dining room, color can actually help stimulate appetite and conversation.
  • Reds, spicy oranges, and burgundies are excellent color choices. These colors are the most passionate and stimulating on our color wheel.
  • When setting a table, remember that a darker color palette will make food appear more appealing. Tonight, serve up one dinner on a white plate and another on a black or red plate and see which shows off the food best.


  • Accessories in the dining room are like the garnishes on a plate of food at your favorite five-star restaurant.
  • They increase the food's appeal and make a cohesive unit out of individual elements of food.
  • Hang artwork that is appropriate for the dining space and style of décor. Art that depicts oversized wine bottles, a medieval feast, a collection of black and white photographs of famous restaurants around the world, or just great art that you find appealing is appropriate.
  • On a sideboard, arrange a wine bottle with a collection of glasses and a bunch of oversized grape and grape vines.
  • For an English country room, accessorize with English pottery - perhaps a collection of teapots and cups.

Dining is always enjoyable but it can be simply sensational when served with stunning décor. Stir up your appetite with a few creative ideas and some designer tricks.