Dining rooms occupy a somewhat odd space in the contemporary interior design world. In terms of popularity, they’ve long since lost to open floorplan kitchens and greatrooms, which means these days a good dining room is rarely going to be a design spotlight. But the reality is, lots of us still have dining rooms, which means there’s a second, subtler trend happening: taking the “traditional” out of the dining room, but finding a way to preserve the “formal” in a way that makes sense for a contemporary home.
Why It Works: In a design world hyper-focused on casual, in-kitchen dining, the biggest pushback has been dining rooms getting even more formal, but with a twist: rather than a “formal” that relies on traditional ornamentation, it’s one with a distinctly streamlined, modern feel. High contrast color schemes and simple yet elegant furnishings combine to create a refined atmosphere that’s perfect for celebrations and special gatherings, but that’s worlds away from your grandmother’s mahogany and china. This is one place, too, where the trend of loving all things gray is still going strong, with many contemporary formal dining rooms using frosty, silvery shades of gray to help create a sense of crisp, cool sophistication.
Get The Look: Start with the dining set, pairing a very simple, dark table with modern high-backed, upholstered chairs done in a light fabric (either white or very light gray) with dark legs. Whatever your flooring looks like, a lightly textured white-and-gray area rug will help make your space look lighter and brighter. A deep blue accent wall adds color and contrast to the space, and serves as a nice backdrop for a large painting or two that will help further elevate your space. Adding just a touch of warm-toned wood with a walnut buffet cabinet will keep the monochromatic color scheme from feeling overly bleak (and will add a good amount of storage and surface space). Finally, a frosted glass cluster pendant stands in for a customary chandelier, evoking traditional elements in a fresh way, while a simple tray and silver candlesticks similarly nod to a more traditional centerpiece.
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Dining rooms don’t have to be old fashioned to feel elevated and refined. A little touch of contrast, some fine art, and good fabrics are all you really need to bring this look together.
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