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The Best Dining Room Benches in Every Style

If you love entertaining at home or enjoy playing host on big occasions, you’ll want to have a well-furnished dining space that can accommodate a crowd. And around the holidays when you’re expecting guests for dinner parties, making sure you have enough seats at the table is absolutely essential.

One of the best solutions for extra dining room seating? A dining bench! Whether you use it every day or just pull it in when you need additional seating, dining benches are true workhorses that offer major function with style to spare.

Find out why we love these pieces and how to choose a bench for dining room layouts—be it an open concept room with lots of extra space for furniture or a small eating nook where multipurpose designs are key. Then, shop our designers’ favorite dining bench picks!

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Dining Benches vs Dining Chairs

First things first, let’s take a look at what sets a dining bench apart from a regular set of chairs.

In most homes, dining chairs are the standard choice for comfortable seats you can lean back and sit in for long periods of time. They also have a relatively small footprint, making them easy to pull in and out from under the table or move around as needed. Since there are many types of dining chairs, you’ll find many designs that can work in any layout or style of room, and they’re especially useful in smaller spaces and apartments.

A dining bench, on the other hand, offers additional seating but in a loose way that can fit many people. It’s great for family homes with kids and for people who entertain a lot. The best part about a dining bench is that it can easily be repurposed outside the dining room, like as a catchall spot in the living room or as a display surface elsewhere in the home.

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How long should a dining bench be?

This depends on the length of your dinner table.

To pick the correct size dining bench, measure the length between the insides of the table legs. And be sure to come in at least 3” on each side (no more than 5”) so that your dining bench can easily slide in and out without hitting the legs.

If you have an oval table or one with a pedestal support, aim for a dining bench that’s 8” shorter than the total length of your table. Can’t decide on a table? Check out our guide on dining table shapes and sizes.

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Does the dining bench need to match the table?

The short answer? No, they don’t! There’s no set approach for how to pair dining tables and chairs, so the same goes for a dining bench. It can match your dinner table if you want or you can opt for mismatched dining chairs. You can also pull in a bench on side of the table and round out the other with dining chairs.

The one good rule to follow is to make sure you choose the right material for your bench. It can contrast with the material of your table also, which makes for a visually appealing pairing. Some other stylish combinations include an upholstered bench with a wood table or a long leather seat with a marble surface. Investing in a great dining table is a good place to start. Not sure what to look for? Check out our design buying guides for some pointers.

Here, browse some of our designers’ favorite picks for dining benches in the home!

Designer Picks: The Best Dining Benches

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Indoor/Outdoor Dining Benches

As a dining bench, an indoor-outdoor design offers the ultimate durable seat, with stain resistance and stylish construction that’s guaranteed to last for years. There are tons of options for an indoor-outdoor dining bench—from designs wrapped in weather-resistant materials to seats upholstered in performance fabrics to natural wood pieces.

Look For: Woods that are durable and built to last and can stand up to the elements as well as everyday wear. We love a dining bench made from teak, which develops a natural patina over time and will stay looking good as it ages.

Perfect In: Sunrooms, decks, and patio dining spaces. Though we also love using one in a normal dining room.

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Leather Dining Benches

Leather is another durable, fade-resistant, timeless material that makes for a popular choice for a dining bench. Natural leather benches add a touch of warmth and comfort to a dining space, while faux leathers, which are equally chic, will give your room a sleek outlook. Consider whether you want a natural tone leather, a darker one, or even a faux leather design to start.

Look For: Leathers can stain, so we always recommend a darker option for a dining bench that’s heavily used on the regular. If you prefer a lighter leather, choose one that’s medium toned like tan or caramel, which will develop a natural patina over time that gives it an extra sumptuous look.

Perfect In: Rustic or boho dining spaces with a mix of woods, eclectic colors, and lots of Mid-Century furniture.

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Wood Dining Benches

The most versatile material for a dining bench, wood is a good option if you’re after something simple, durable, and sure to stand the test of time. What’s great about a wood bench is that you have endless styles, colors, and designs to choose from, so you’re definitely going to find a seat that works with your existing room and decor.

Look For: A solid wood bench made of walnut, maple, or teak always makes for a strong and easy-to-clean seat. If you live in a rental or small space, there are many stylish wood veneer options in functional sizes—plus they’re also slightly more lightweight than solid wood pieces.

Perfect In: Any interior style space. This type of dining bench is guaranteed to last for years and will transition seamlessly with your evolving style, rooms, and even homes!

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Upholstered Dining Benches

For a softer, more sophisticated look, an upholstered dining bench will do the job and some. More comfortable than most other benches, it’s perfect if you love long dinner parties where you spend hours at the table.

Look For: An upholstered dining bench upholstered in a durable fabric, such as treated velvet or a microfiber, or one that’s stain resistant. When using upholstery in the dining area, function comes first.

Perfect In: Any modern or contemporary dining space, or a small eclectic one with a mix of bold fabrics, woods, and metallic touches.

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Dining Benches With Backs

For an elevated take on upholstered dining room benches, opt for one with a high back. It’s the perfect blend between a settee and a bench. And one of these designs makes for a luxe and sumptuous dining bench that will instantly dial up the glamour and comfort in your space.

Look For: A design in a darker fabric. Because these seats are practically mini sofas next to your dining table, dark materials will help hide stains and extend the longevity of your piece. The main thing to remember? Measure thoroughly and leave extra space all around this style bench to ensure it fits into your space.

Perfect In: A traditional or transitional dining space in a family home with kids. Also, entertainers who love hosting long dinner parties. Back on bench makes it more comfortable.

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Woven Dining Benches

If you’re looking to add texture to your dining space, a woven bench provides a wide range of tactile material options. From tightly woven rope seats to caning to leather basketweave designs, a woven dining bench offers comfort, crisp style, and a simple, clean-lined look.

Look For: Make sure these benches are tightly woven, so they don’t easily come undone. While they’re durable, they’re also a little tricky to clean, so keep that in mind when choosing the color of your woven bench. It is not impervious to stains and spills.

Perfect In: Coastal homes and contemporary spaces where they’ll add intrigue as well as a light, airy look.

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Kid-Friendly Dining Benches

Look for sturdy designs that won’t scratch easily and can stand up to lots of traffic, climbing, and spills. With a busy family home, a dining bench that is well-constructed and made with durable materials is always top priority.

Look For: Skip fine upholstery and opt for kid-friendly benches in materials such as rustic weathered woods that can conceal any dents and wear over time, performance fabrics that are stain and mildew resistant, and outdoor fibers that are durably weather-resistant. That said, our first choice for a kid-friendly dining bench is certainly wood, which is easy to clean and decorate with other furnishings.

Perfect In: Rustic dining rooms or classic contemporary homes where high and low style (and foot traffic!) meet.

Explore our gallery for more dining room design ideas!

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How to Pair Dining Tables and Chairs + 5 Foolproof Combos

When it comes to dining room furniture, the most important pieces are chairs and tables. But how do you choose the right table and chairs for your style? And beyond the overall style, how do you begin to figure out how to pair dining tables and chairs that coordinate without buying a complete dining set?

It’s a common conundrum without a simple and straightforward answer. After all, style and design are full of nuance! But it can be done. To help, we’re breaking down key rules for making your choice and picking a dining table and chairs that perfectly match. (And keep reading until the end, where we’ll offer 5 foolproof table and chair combinations!)

7 Tips for Pairing Dining Tables and Chairs

To start things off, we’re sharing 7 tips to help you find the right table and chair combination and bring your dining room design ideas to life!

1. Begin with Your Dining Table

Your dining room table should be the foundation of your dining room, around which everything else is decorated (figuratively and literally). So, pick chairs to match your table, not the other way around. Since this is a larger piece of furniture, it’s more important to get this right based on your functional needs

Decide what size and shape of table you need first. If you have a smaller dining room, a round or oval table might be just the thing. Need to fit six or more around the table? Opt for rectangular. And if you love to host large gatherings, perhaps an extendable table is right for you!

Then, consider dining table materials. Wood dining tables are the most common, but you can also go for something more decorative, like marble or glass, or a material that’s easy to clean, like a composite wood.

Finally, you’ll want to choose a dining table style that matches your personal interior design style.

Need a little extra guidance? Learn all about how to choose a dining table in our dining table buying guide.

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2. Avoid Matching Sets

A room looks best when the furniture is coordinated but not overly matchy-matchy. That goes for dining rooms as well as living rooms and bedrooms! Sure, if you buy a complete, matching dining room set, you don’t have to worry about what chairs to pair with your table. But this look will also appear a bit one-note and can make your dining room design fall flat and feel dated. On the other hand, finding chairs that coordinate with your table without perfectly matching them will allow you to create a unique look that highlights your personality and style.

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3. Choose Chairs That are a Different Color from Your Table

When picking out chairs to go with your dining table, an easy rule of thumb is to invite contrast. Since dining tables and chairs take up a lot of visual space in a room, you don’t want them to be one solid block of the same color. This will make your dining room feel visually heavy and make the room feel unbalanced. (One more reason to avoid the matching set!)

Instead, break up all the sameness with different colors. This is an easy way to ensure your room feels curated but still layered and interesting. Just look at the dining nook above: the dining table is a light pine, and the black frame of the chairs adds contrast to the arrangement. And, while the chair’s seats are a similar tone as the wood of the table, they’re a different material, which helps add texture and depth. (More on that, below!)

One other curveball: if you go for wood tables and chairs, make sure that neither one is the same color or tone as your flooring! If you’re running into this problem, consider layering in a dining room rug.

Designer Tip: Chairs and tables in the same color aren’t always bad! It just depends on the design style of your dining room. A tone-on-tone look works well in Scandinavian or Mid-Century Modern styles, where pieces are made of stunning natural wood. If you go this route, just be sure the wood tones match exactly, as close-but-not-exact tones will clash.

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4. Pick Different Materials for Your Tables and Chairs

Mixing colors is great—but you can take it a step further and add additional contrast through different dining chair materials! How different you go simply depends on how much of a statement you want to make. Generally, the less similar your materials feel, the bolder or more eclectic your space will look.

For example, a wood table with cane chairs will feel cohesive and add a pop of visual contrast, because both materials are natural and have a similar vibe. Meanwhile, a marble table with velvet chairs (as in the dining room above) will bring a lot more contrast and create a super bold statement in your space.

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5. Balance the “Visual Weight” Between Your Table and Chairs

Did you know objects, like furniture and decor, have visual weight? This is an interior design principle that basically says larger, darker, and more solid objects will feel “heavy” in a room, while slim, open, and clear objects feel “light.”

What does this have to do with your dining room? Well, if you have a visually heavy table, you’re going to want to balance it out with “lighter” chairs—and vice-versa! For example, if your table has skinny metal legs and a glass top, you’ll want to avoid chairs that are also clear or have tall slender legs because the overall arrangement will feel unbalanced and too light. Instead, balance it out with a lighter table with more solid-looking, visually heavier chairs. Or consider the dining room pictured above. When you have a substantial pedestal dining table like this one, it has a lot of visual weight. To balance this, pair it with chairs that feel airy and light, like these white chairs with slender legs and cane backs.

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6. Think Outside the Box

Of course, like tables, you need to consider types of dining chairs so you can choose dining chairs that match your style. But there’s no need to limit yourself to a set of fully matching chairs when figuring out how to pair dining tables and chairs in your own home!

When it comes to dining room seating, you can think outside the box. You can go for mismatched dining chairs—either swapping out the two chairs at the head and foot of the table, or going full-speed ahead with all mismatched chairs for a more eclectic look. You can even nix chairs all together on one or both long slides of a rectangular table and use a dining bench instead! This is a great option for homes with kids or if you just need to add extra seating in a pinch!

7. Measure Everything

A surefire way for a dining room design to go sideways? Not taking measurements before purchasing furniture. Not only do you want to make sure that the size and scale of your tables and chairs will suit your dining room, but you also want to make sure the actual tables and chairs will work together.

So, make note of the table height, then make sure the seat height of your chairs will allow you to sit comfortably at the table. And, of course, make sure the backs of the chairs are high enough that they won’t slide under the dining table when pushed in. (Unless you have a bench!)

You’ll also want to measure the width of the chairs in comparison with the size of your table. It’s most comfortable to have about six inches in between each chair, in addition to allowing about 24 inches of eating space for each person at the table. So, do the math on how many chairs can comfortably fit around your table given the width of your chairs!

5 Foolproof Dining Table and Chair Combinations

Want a few more examples? Keep reading to discover our designers’ five foolproof combos for pairing dining tables and chairs.

dining chairs with slip covers and a wood dining table ad lots of texture and interest to this space

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Combo #1: Slipcover Dining Chairs with a Wood Dining Table

Linen chairs with a warm wood dining table is a foolproof look because you have built-in contrast in the material, color, and textures! The wood dining table is solid and has rustic vibes, while the chairs are soft and plush. The perfect level of contrast!

This combo works well with… 

Rustic, traditional, and classic styles. It’s also a great combination if you’re mixing styles (like modern and traditional) or want to create a timeless look. Avoid this combination if you like a modern or industrial look.

leather chairs and a wood dining table make for an sleek but cozy vibe

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Combo #2: Leather Chairs with a Light Wood Dining Table

Want to create a hip and modern look? Pair a sleek, light wood dining table with modern, leather chairs. Opt for leather chairs that have a bit of patina, which will increase the contrast between the modern light wood and the chairs. Choosing leather chairs with dark metal legs will add additional contrast to your dining room arrangement.

This combo works well with… 

More modern styles, like Scandinavian or Mid-Century. It’s also a great look for someone who loves industrial style but wants something a bit more warm and inviting.

Marble and velvet are a glamorus dining chair and dining table combo

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Combo #3: Velvet Chairs with a Marble Dining Table

Marble and velvet are both glamorous materials on their own. But when paired together, they are dynamite for creating an elevated look. The highly textured look of velvet contrasts beautifully with sleek marble. Up the ante even more by opting for velvet in a saturated jewel tone.

This combo works well with… 

Glam, modern, and mid-century styles and in spaces where you want to add a bit of drama.

Canning is a wonderful to give your dining room a classic feel

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Combo #4: Cane Chairs with a Black Wood Dining Table

Caning is classic material. And wood is the most common and timeless material for dining tables. So, pairing these two classic materials together creates a timeless and casual rustic look. This pairing also has an organic vibe since these are both natural materials. And, by opting for a black finish or paint on your table, you can add extra visual contrast.

This combo works well with… 

Rustic, modern rustic, and even coastal styles.

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Combo #5: Upholstered Chairs with a Glass-Top Dining Table

Glass is undeniably sleek and modern—but it can also feel somewhat cold. Meanwhile, upholstered chairs offer comfort and warmth. So, together, they make a great pairing for a dining room. The glass top offers a touch of elegance and luxury, and pairing it with a simple and sleek upholstered chair offers a more approachable look.

This combo works well with… 

Contemporary, glam, and modern styles where you want to bring in both a sense of luxury and comfort.

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Family Room Design: 14 Cozy Family Room Decorating Ideas

Ah, family rooms. Undoubtedly, it’s the most casual and comfy space in any home for the whole family (yes, even pets!) to gather, relax, and lounge out. It’s the happy medium between formal living room and media room, where conversation and movie marathons all take place. It’s also the busiest space where children, for the most part, have free reign.

With all that in mind, it’s also easy to see why it can be a challenge decorating a family room. There needs to be a balance of function and style, from making sure there’s practical storage to having a TV setup that isn’t a complete eyesore. There often needs to be kid-friendly designs also. And most important, there needs to be big, comfortable seating, because the family room is designed to be used every day.

The Difference Between Living Room vs. Family Room

Before we dive in further, you may be wondering what’s the difference between a living room and a family room. For the most part, the terms are interchangeable today, but they ultimately do refer to different spaces.

First, the living room is commonly seen as a more elevated, formal space, while the family room is a cozier and informal gathering spot. Second, the living room is usually located in the front of the home, to welcome guests, while the family room is often more tucked away, either closer to the back of the house or in a basement. And finally, while some homes have both these spaces, others only have one main living area, in which case, it tends to be used more like a family room.

Either way, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to decorating. Just be sure to decide how you want to use your space, and follow your design instincts!

Now to help you design a space that’s right for you and your squad, we’ve rounded up our best family room decorating ideas from our designers. Find out below!

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1. Prioritize Comfy Seating

Casual and comfortable seating that’s no frills and easy to clean is key to a functional family room. It’s similar to any living room furniture except you want to opt for larger scale pieces with comfy proportions that invite the whole family to lounge and spend time together in the space. Plus, family rooms often have media, so you want the most comfortable seating for watching TV and movies. Think a wide sectional with the chaise and ottoman, extra poufs, and plush side chairs or reclining armchairs. It’s all about creating a homey and welcoming environment.

Because it’s a space that gets a lot of use, especially if there are kids, having upholstered furniture in durable fabrics is essential. You’ll want to look for performance materials that are stain resistant and easy to clean, slipcovers you can toss into the wash, and quality leather that can stand up to wear over time.

family room designed for tv viewing

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2. Center Seating Around Technology

If the family room is primarily used for watching TV and movies, arrange your seating around the media area for ease. By centering your main seating with your TV, it optimizes the space with a family friendly layout that’s designed for practical everyday use.

Additionally, just because the TV is centered in the room doesn’t mean that it has to look like an electronics focused space. Add a media console that elevates the look of your TV or if you’re pressed for space, hang a flatscreen on your wall and surround it with cool art for a more balanced look.

Check out our TV viewing layouts for other family room decorating ideas that seamlessly incorporate media.

 

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3. Make It Personal

A family room is a ‘family’ space, so it should feel personal and not overly prescriptive or precious. Adding personal touches will help make your family room feel more inviting while still keeping an elevated look and serving all your practical daily needs.

Consider incorporating family photos, mementos from travels, and even artwork and crafts from the kids. Some tried-and-true family room decorating ideas like a gallery wall of black-and-white personal photos or a bookcase filled with favorite heirlooms and objects are always guaranteed to bring a touch of personality and flair.

If you’re at a loss for family room ideas that feel ‘you’, you can always start by adding a few of your favorite books, a few plants, or a grouping of small accents on a tray on the coffee table.

Family room with work area

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4. Create Spaces for the Whole Fam

The family room is meant to be a gathering spot for everyone in the house, including the kids and pets. So it’s important to factor in every person’s needs for the most family friendly space.

Consider different areas for each person when everyone uses the space at the same time. You don’t want everyone competing for the best spot on the sectional, so be sure to have several comfy spots for lounging.

That means taking into consideration how each family member would use the space—which can be a cozy reading chair for dad, a place for books for mom, a play area for the kids or the perfect corner for a pet bed for Fido (also see: pet-friendly design tips.) And if your family room functions as a multipurpose space for homeschooling or computer games, be sure to carve out spaces for those too.

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5. Pile on Layers of Comfort

You can never have too many pillows and throw blankets in the family room. After all, it always comes down to extra layers of comfort that can be shared by everyone in the family room.

Beyond comfort, layering pillows not only adds style and pattern, it also brings texture and warmth to your seating area. Try starting with a mix of three to five pillows for your sectional, then add in one or two throw blankets at each end. You can also take it one step further with a basket full of throw blankets for guests or for when the whole family piles onto the sectional for a movie night.

Family room with kid safe furniture

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6. Kid Proof With Soft Edges

When it comes to kid friendly family room decorating ideas, proofing your space with furniture that have rounded edges and soft surfaces is top priority.

Look for upholstered ottomans and curvy chairs that don’t have sharp corners, and pad the floor with cozy rugs that are gentle on the feet and soft enough for little ones to crawl and lay out on. This keeps the family room safe for babies, toddlers, and kids across all ages to comfortably lounge and play.

Need help finding the right pieces for your family room? Take a peek at our top picks for kid-friendly coffee tables and the best rugs for kids and pets.

Family room with play area

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7. Set Up a Fun Zone

In a busy household with children, you can make the most of your family room by carving out a kid-friendly play space for games, crafts, and even homework. It’s one of the most practical multipurpose family room ideas, because it doubles the function of the space and provides a perfect setup that lets you keep an eye on the kids while relaxing.

How you decorate your kids’ fun zone is up to you. You can try adding some playroom elements to start, like a kids table, easel or toy chest if your kids are too young for family games. And you can ground it all with a soft rug that they can comfortably play on. You can find more inspiring ideas with our kid-friendly design tips.

Family room with bold colors

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8. Don’t Shy From Color

Most family room ideas revolve around practical neutral furniture. But we’re here to encourage the opposite. Make it a point to liven up your family room with colorful accents, such as a patterned rug, bright pillows, vibrant accent chairs and poufs, and eye-catching art.

In a room where functionality is often the focus, having bursts of color and pattern is the quickest way to add personality and style. And if you’re worried about having too much color, just remember you can always swap out these small accents each season with new shades or neutrals. And if neutral is your go-to palette, you can still add texture and depth with textiles, which will have the same warming effect as colors.

family room with playful accent furniture

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9. Add Playful Accent Furniture

Beyond functional family room ideas, leave room to have a little fun with your design of the space. Playful accent furniture, like a casual hanging chair, pretty patterned poufs on the floor or a stylish home bar cabinet, make for unexpected touches that instantly liven up a family room. These also help set your space up for casual hangouts, no matter the occasion. If kids or teenagers use the family room to hang with friends, these will ensure you have a space that’s fun, functional, and relaxing to hang out in.

Family room with cozy reading nook

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10. Carve out a Reading Nook

Give yourself a cozy place to sit and read in the family room. You can easily create a reading nook by adding an armchair in a corner or alongside a bookcase. Just be sure to round out your reading space with other accents, like a side table, floor lamp, and a throw pillow and blanket.

For those days when you just want to curl up with a good book instead of tuning into a show, a cozy reading nook can feel like the most comforting hideaway. And when it comes to family room ideas that are stylish, functional, and inspire a bit of escapism, none come close to a reading nook with a deep armchair designed for hours of comfy lounging.

Family room with extra seating

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11. Bring in the Extra Seating

There’s no better use for poufs, benches, and comfy ottomans than in a family room setting. They provide extra seating around the space for entertainment, but they can also conveniently work as footrests and impromptu surfaces.

The best part is that they all make for moveable seating that can be pushed off to the side or pulled in for use in the family room at any time. If you’re pressed for space, you can also try using poufs and benches in place of a coffee table. Versatility is what makes sets these hardworking accent seats apart!

Family room with light curtains for added sunlight

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12. Consider Curtains for Light

How comfortable your family room feels also depends on how much light it gets. The best way to control the light in your space is to hang curtains on all your family room windows.

Try adding layered window treatments, like blinds that filter in some rays when you want a little natural light shining through. Or if you prefer less light because your windows face the sun during the day, blackout curtains will do the trick nicely. Plus, nothing is more frustrating than trying to watch a movie and light from the windows create a glare that makes it impossible to see anything on the screen. Having curtains that are just thick enough to block out a good amount of light will help; and the same heavy curtains will also provide a warmer look in your space at night.

Family room with lots of surface areas

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13. Keep Surfaces Within Reach With Accent Tables

Don’t forget to also bring in small surfaces to go in your seating area. Accent tables, like poufs and ottomans, are workhorses in a family room. They’re perfect surfaces for holding snacks, drinks, remotes, books, and even a vase of flowers. And best of all, they’re highly functional, moveable, and don’t take up a ton of floor space.

While you don’t need half a dozen small tables crowding up your family room, you do want at least two or three mini ones that you can easily pull up next to your sofa or side chairs. Consider small end tables, like C-tables, nesting rounds or a small drinks table, to ensure there are plenty of surfaces where you can set things down.

Family room with closed storage

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14. Make Room for Big Storage

Out of all our practical family room ideas, having a large closed storage piece ranks second only to comfortable seating. Whether it’s a sideboard that doubles as a media stand or a console cabinet that also serves as your home bar, a piece with ample storage will help keep your family room organized and clutter free.

For instance, a cabinet under your TV is the best place to store all your wires and electronics, while also providing room for extra books, throws, candles, and other living room essentials. And in a busy space like the family room, you’ll love having closed storage that keeps all the little things out of sight. If you’re struggling to find the right piece, we’ve rounded up the best home storage to get your started.

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7 Ways to Put Your Empty Dining Room to Use

Some people just aren’t formal dining room people—and that’s ok! Maybe you have a more casual dining space in your living room or kitchen and don’t need a formal dining space. Or perhaps you just want to prioritize using that room for something else! Regardless of the reasoning, there are plenty of ways to put your dining area to use that don’t involve a table and chairs!

empty dining room designed as a bedroom, home gym, office, and more!

We’ve all spent a lot of extra time at home this past year, so it’s worth considering the function and practicality of each room in your home. Because you want your space to work for you! And if a formal dining room isn’t what you need right now, don’t be afraid to move your table into storage, stash your spare dining room chairs elsewhere in the house, and make this space more of what you need.

Looking for some ideas of what to do with your empty dining room? Keep reading for some of our favorite unused dining room design ideas and multi-purpose space design hacks! (Pro tip: these ideas all work for spare rooms elsewhere in your house as well!)

empty dining room turned into a kid's play room design with lots of toys and cute decor

1. Make It a Playroom

If you have kids, a great way to switch up the use of your repurposed dining room is to create a playroom for them! This creates a dedicated zone for your kids’ toys and gives them a fun space that’s all their own! (And hopefully, doing this saves some of your sanity, so your whole home isn’t littered with their stuff!)

Start by choosing a large, plush rug in a fun pattern, creating a soft space for your kids to play. For an extra dose of coziness, add a pouf, which makes for a fun seat or backrest while reading. We added some cute artwork to the walls, along with a blackboard for drawing or practicing letters. A kid-size table is perfect for coloring and crafts, and lining the back wall with a low bookcase gives your kids a place for toys, books, and baskets that are all within reach for small hands!

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small home office design with clay walls, wooden furniture, and large bookcases

2. Try a One-Person Office

One of our most practical alternative dining room ideas is to make an open office for one! Most dining areas don’t have doors that close them off from the rest of the house—but if you don’t mind the idea of not having a door, you can create a really nice home office in a space like this!

With this dining room home office, we left the middle of the room open so the space didn’t feel cramped and is easy to walk through. We added in additional stools for when someone else stops into your home office to chat. And a narrow and tall wall-mounted bookcase offers ample storage and display surfaces without taking up a ton of floorspace. We opted for a soothing clay color on the wall and in the rug, mixed with other darker earth tones for a space that’s low-stress and promotes productivity.

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empty dining room redecorated as a home office for two in chic, minimal style

3. Or a Two-Person Office

Working from home with a partner? Turn your repurposed dining room into a home office for two! To fit in two desks and storage, opt for smaller and more delicate furniture that will give a sense of airiness to the space. Putting the desks against a wall and perpendicular to one another helps make the best use of the space. And hanging a large piece of artwork in between creates some visual space between the two workspaces. With this arrangement, you still have room for a wall-mounted bookcase for office supplies and decor—a must-have for small spaces!

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guest bedroom with brown walls and a platform bed frame

4. Create a Guest Bedroom

Other uses for a dining room? Hosting guests. It may sound weird, but if you don’t have a guest room elsewhere in your home, this is a great option since guest rooms don’t require much space. In this design, we opted for a bed that has built-in nightstands, which creates a minimal look and makes the room feel less cluttered and more open. Since dining rooms don’t have closets, a simple six-drawer dresser is a great add for guest’s clothes. (And you could even use a couple drawers for your own storage!) Opting for Roman shades rather than curtains keeps the windows unobstructed and allows for maximum natural light during the day.

If your dining room doesn’t have a closeable doorway, you could hang curtains for privacy. Or, if you don’t mind undertaking a larger project, you could have French doors installed!

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unused dining room reconfigured into a home gym with a Peleton bike

5. Turn an Unused Dining Room into a Home Gym

We love the idea of creating a dedicated space to workout at home! This is one of our favorite alternative dining room ideas of the moment. And a home gym design is easier to put together than you might think. We started by hanging up a pair of infinity mirrors to really establish that gym feeling—you gotta make sure your form is on-point, after all! (Plus, the mirrors reflect light and make the whole space feel more open and airy.) And we opted for a blue-green wall color that adds some energy to the space.

If you have an exercise machine or large equipment, like a bike, treadmill, or ballet bar, make sure to create space for that. Then, just be sure to include space for a floor mat for stretching and yoga, and perhaps a storage bench with baskets for easy organization of smaller equipment! We also hung up a hook near the bike for a towel. But, really, it’s all about making a space that works for your exercise needs and your preferred workout style—so personalize and change as needed!

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library design reading room with a leather armchair and large bookcases

6. Relax in an At-Home Library Reading Room

Are you one of those people who has always dreamed of having a home library, with a whole wall lined with books and a cozy chair to curl up in and read? Well, maybe it’s finally time to make that dream a reality! One of our coziest alternative uses for a dining room is to transform it into a reading room—creating a space where you can escape and totally relax, complete with a wall of deep bookcases. You can either max out the shelves with books, or integrate some decor and storage baskets on the shelves as well.

Besides shelving, we placed a comfy swivel chair in the corner, along with a side table for your beverage of choice, a pouf for putting up your feet, and a floor lamp for good reading light. Soft colors and natural materials throughout the space make for a soothing and serene setting.

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empty dining room converted into a TV viewing lounge space

7. Convert Your Dining Room into a Lounge

If you like the idea of having a TV-free living room, you could create a TV lounge in your empty dining room instead! This makes for a fun space that’s dedicated to relaxing, watching movies, and even reading.

To set up this space, opt for an apartment-size sofa and a cool lounge chair to offer enough seating for multiple people to relax but at a scale that won’t overwhelm the space. Mounting your TV on the wall and hanging a small shelf below it for electronics is a perfect alternative to a media cabinet and a great compact space-saver. A C-table is a great versatile and small surface for snacks and drinks—and since it’s on wheels, it’s easy to move it around to where you need it. And poufs are great footrests or extra seats, and can slide under the shelf when not in use!

And if binging TV shows isn’t your thing, you could also create a game room using similar elements! Just swap out the TV and shelf for a coffee table suited for games!

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This post was updated May 21, 2021

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5 Tips For a Dining Room That Encourages Family Meals

mid-century dining room ideas

You know those especially long days where, by the time you’re finally home the last thing you want to do is cook a meal? You know there are groceries in the fridge but ordering takeout is so much easier. Us too. Making dinner at home is one of those things that we say we’ll do but we always seem to find an excuse to get out of it.

It’s not surprising then that sit-down family dinners are becoming a rarity in American homes.

On the flip side, many studies have shown that eating together is a great way for parents and children to deepen their bonds in today’s fast-paced world. But what gives when it comes to making more time to eat together at home?

A well-designed family dining room might just be your answer to making it all happen. Make your dining room a place that is comfortable and inviting so that it encourages family dinners. A dining room that’s dedicated to meals and family time can also reset old routines and inspire a new way of eating together.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. We’ve rounded up five tips to help you create a dining room that’s sure to get everyone around the table at dinner time.

Read on for 5 tips to create your perfect family dining room.

rustic family dining room1. Invest In A Dining Table (That Works For You)

First things first: If you want a dining room that encourages more family meals, a nice table can make all the difference. Think of your table as the centerpiece that everything else will be built on.

Choose one that fits your space and suits your family’s dining style. A long communal table is great for dinner parties if you like to have friends and family over. A shorter table or a round one is ideal for casual everyday meals and if you have a small family dining room.  A wood table can be especially kid-friendly and easy to clean. And, finally, a glass top option is great for small spaces.

contemporary dining room2. Find Comfy Chairs

The key to any great family dining room is comfortable seating. If you want a space that’s all about getting people to gather and dine together, it’s got to be comfortable.

Find chairs that not only speak to your style, but are comfortable enough that people won’t think twice about lingering for dessert or to finish that bottle of wine.

Don’t worry if all your chairs don’t match—embrace a more eclectic look as you add chairs to your space over time.

For kid-friendly seating, opt for chairs in leather (it’s easy to clean) or wood (upholstered ones are prone to stains). Or add a bench on one side for a seat that’s spacious with lots of room to move around.

dining room storage3. Incorporate Everyday Storage

Want your dining room to feel less utilitarian and more like a true family gathering spot? Take full advantage of the space by rounding it out with a credenza or buffet that can be used daily.

This is a great place to stash everyday dinnerware that you can pull out at meal time as well as for excess kitchen equipment (or any clutter you just don’t have room for). And you can dress it up as a self-service bar, food station, or just a simple decorative focal point during dinner parties.

dining room ideas4. Make A Statement

Warm up your dining decor so that it feels inviting. And don’t hesitate to take some interior design risks.

You likely won’t want to change up your dining room decor frequently. This makes it the perfect place to try a statement wallpaper or bold chandelier that makes it feel extra welcoming. This will also give it that one-of-a kind WOW factor that guests won’t be able to stop ogling over.

family dining room5. Set The Mood

What’s the one thing trendy restaurants have in common? Ambience! And that’s just as important in your dining room. An experience involving all your senses, striking the right mood with your lighting is key to a great dining space.

If you can, opt for a dimmable pendant or add an extra table lamp to your credenza. And don’t forget to light a candle or two (or a dozen) to add that final touch. It all adds up to setting a cozy and inviting mood that gets everyone excited for time spent together around the table.

 

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