Have you ever wondered, when designing a room, what pieces are essential and which things are simply nice to have if you have the space or budget for them? Well, wonder no longer! With our buying guides, we’ll walk you through the essential pieces for your space, the nice-to-haves, and the little touches that make a space shine.
At Modsy, we’ve helped countless people design their dining rooms—which means that we have a pretty good handle on what pieces no dining room should be without and which pieces you can wait on, save up for, or skip altogether. And we want to pass that wisdom along to you!
Today, we’re going to give you a checklist of what dining room furniture you should definitely include in your dining room (like a table and chairs) and what furniture helps add a feeling of intentionality and ease to your space. Because, ultimately, you want your dining room to work for you and meet the needs of your space. So, we’ll walk you through everything from the essentials to the little things that will make your space sing. And, since everyone has a different budget, we’ll also include a general price range for each piece of furniture.
Before we get into the checklist, we want to talk through some early decision-making filters you should think through—things that will help you narrow down your search early on, so you don’t waste your time hunting and shopping for furniture you don’t actually need for your own space.
First, consider the size of your dining area. This will not only influence the size of the pieces you include but it will also help determine how many pieces of furniture you include and what they look like.
You should also consider your lifestyle needs. How does your dining room need to function? Does your dining room double as your home office? Do you have young children or pets? Do you host frequently? All of these variables will influence your personal needs for your dining room and will help guide the choices around what kind of furniture and materials to include.
Now, on to our dining room furniture checklist!
The Dining Room Essentials
These are the pieces of furniture that you absolutely need for your dining room to function properly.
You can’t properly dine without a table! In fact, this is piece number one for dining room essentials. Without a dining table, you really don’t have a dining room! However, there are so many different table sizes, shapes, and styles to choose from when choosing the right dining table for your needs.
When it comes to size, consider how you use the space (and how much space you actually have). If you always host during the holidays but only have small family meals day-to-day, you might want to consider an expandable dining table that can size up or down depending on how many seats you need.
If you don’t have a ton of space, you could simply do a bistro table to keep the footprint small—or you could go for a counter or bar-height table. In terms of shape, you can go for a more traditional rectangular table, or an oval, square, or round table. Along with the size and shape of a dining table, you’ll also want to consider style, to give your dining room and home a unique point of view. A dining table is a big investment, so make sure you choose one that you love!
Price Range: $400-$3,000+
A dining room table on its own doesn’t do much good—so chairs are another dining room essential. You need something to sit on, after all! There are so many different styles and types of dining room chairs, and we recommend choosing chairs that coordinate with the style of your table. You can also incorporate benches or even stools in a small space. When choosing dining room chairs, consider your needs—like comfort level, durability, and materials. If you have kids, you’ll probably want chairs that are easy to clean and can endure some wear and tear. And something worth remembering: some chairs come in pairs or in sets of 4-6, which can help save money when outfitting full dining room sets!
Price Range: $75-$600+ (for a single chair)
These furniture and decor pieces won’t render your space unusable if you don’t have them. But including them in your design and budget but can greatly increase the functionality or your dining room. Consider these items a bit lower on the “must buy” list.
A Credenza or Buffet
Credenzas and buffets are great multipurpose pieces of dining room storage furniture that are really nice to have. On top, you can display decorative objects, create a drink station, or place a lamp for layering lighting in your dining room. But they also offer a ton of storage space—often featuring a mix of cabinets and drawers. You can use the concealed storage to stash dinnerware, linens, serving platters, and special-occasion dishes while still having easy access to them. While credenzas or buffets are pricier and more of an investment piece, they really do add a finishing touch to a dining room.
Price Range: $600-$3,000
Ambient Overhead Lighting
Good lighting can make or break a room. That’s why we love ambient overhead lighting in a dining room design. And you don’t have to settle for what’s in your dining room when you move into your home! Swapping out lighting can make a huge difference for a reasonable price. They’re one of those great pieces that can help pull the style of the room together and make it look complete—and they’ll give you just the right ambient lighting that’s nice for dinner.
Price Range: $150 – $2,000
When possible, it’s nice to put drinks and mixology tools in a separate area. This can be accomplished through the use of a bar cart or bar cabinet. A bar cabinet is great if you prefer concealed storage and want a really sleek and clean look. A bar cart is perfect for entertaining, as your drink mixing essentials are out in the open, and the cart itself can easily be moved to wherever you need it most! Either option adds a polished element to your space.
Stylist Tip: Style your bar cart with a mix of practical and decorative items to really make it pop.
Bar Cart Price Range: $150 – $1,000
Bar Cabinet Price Range: $500-$2,000
An Area Rug
An area rug helps your dining room feel more styled and pulled together; it anchors the table, especially in a large dining space or open living space. Rugs also add some pattern, texture, and color to your space. Since there are so many different styles of rugs, it’s an opportunity to further drive home the interior design style and color scheme of your dining room.
Stylist Tip: Get a rug that is easy to clean in case of any food or beverage spills during your next dinner party! (Also an absolute necessity for parents of toddlers!)
Price Range: $250-$2,000+
While you may not need blinds or curtains in your dining room for privacy in the same way you do in other rooms of your home, window coverings are still nice to have. But it’s nice to be able to close them if you’re enjoying a late dinner, and it adds an aesthetic touch to the space. Whether you choose blinds, curtains, or Roman shades simply depends on the look you’d like to achieve. However, between the options, curtains have the ability to add the most personality to a space. Like an area rug, curtains are a great way to infuse a little pattern or color to your space. The material you choose can impact the vibe of your room; whereas a linen curtain would add a sense of airiness to your space, velvet curtains would bring in a sense of drama. And a solid-colored curtain is a great way to add a sense of formality to your space.
Stylist Tip: Go for curtains with a pattern if your dining room is mostly solids to add a punch of pattern to the space.
Price Range: $120-$800
The Little Things
These little things are the finishing touches that make your room feel complete—styled, considered, and intentional. They’ll take you from a merely functional space to one that really sings!
Candles are a great way to add ambient lighting for romantic or cozy dinners—or to simply make each evening feel a little bit more special! Even if you have overhead lighting, it’s nice to have candles as an option for additional layered lighting. And, whether you’re using pillar candles or tapers in candlesticks, they become simple decor on your table.
Stylist Tip: Don’t want real flames? Try battery-operated candles for a fire-safe option that you can leave on all the time. You can even get ones that flicker like a real flame!
Price Range: $5-$100
A centerpiece can be anything from a vase of flowers or a small plant to a bowl of lemons or a trio of candles—and so much more! They can be small and simple or large and elaborate depending on how you use your table and your personal preference. Whatever it is, having something decorative in the middle of the table can make a room feel well thought out and visually serve as a finishing touch in your dining room. A tablescape is also a great way to bring in seasonal elements, as it’s something simple that you can switch out each season—if not more often.
Price Range: $50-$500
Whether it’s sculptural art, a painting, a woven tapestry, or a family photo gallery wall, art will add a personal touch to your dining room. It’s also a great way to further define the style of the space. You can use wall art to pull in colors that are used elsewhere in the space to help it feel more cohesive.
Price Range: $100-$2,000