ideas for stylish and sociable dining spaces

Regardless of the size of your home, it is rare to dedicate a whole room solely for dining. The trend has been, and still is to choose open plan – or broken plan – living, where the dining area is incorporated within the kitchen or sectioned off in a zone of a larger ground floor living area.

It's a far more informal and modern way to live. After all, who wants to be stuck in the kitchen, when friends are sipping Sauvignon and catching up in another room? Blame FOMO, but most of us now prefer to be a part of the action when we're entertaining. Or perhaps you just like to be able to keep an eye on the kids playing or doing their homework while you're cooking?

Whatever your reasons, it's the way we live now. But how to delineate the space and create a workable layout? Whether you're hiring an architect or interior designer or not, first think about how you live – or how you'd like to live – and how you 'd ideally like the space to flow from the kitchen to the dining and living spaces, and even out to the garden for summer entertaining.Next, what is feasible within your space and budget?

See these Crittal-style Kitchen diner extensions.

Think about practicalities such as how many you would like to be able to seat around the dining table. Extending tables are back in vogue, if large gatherings are a regular occurrence in your home. Benches or banquette seating also allow for extra bums on seats when required.

Once the layout and practicalities have been thought through, you can think about the aesthetics. Whatever style you've chosen – or are choosing – for your kitchen, will impact the look of your dining area, so it's a decorating decision to be taken in consideration with the rest of your scheme.

We've selected the open dining spaces we love most to kick start your inspiration boards.

Check out the 7 Steps to a Stylish Dining Space.

’Tis the season

’Tis the season

If you prefer a subtle nod towards Christmas rather than stepping into Santa’s grotto, scale back decorations to something as simple asan oversized wreath. Either pick up a faux garland and arrange into a giant circle or weave stems of fir and eucalyptus around a wreath base. If you go the real route, lightly mist every few days to help it last.
Get the look Blu Dot Branch dining table, from £1,539, Heal’s. Hamilton chairs, from £274 for two, Next Home. Karma Red rug, from £149, Woven. Vintage birdcage, £145, Orchid.

’Tis the season

’Tis the season

If you prefer a subtle nod towards Christmas rather than stepping into Santa’s grotto, scale back decorations to something as simple asan oversized wreath. Either pick up a faux garland and arrange into a giant circle or weave stems of fir and eucalyptus around a wreath base. If you go the real route, lightly mist every few days to help it last.
Get the look Blu Dot Branch dining table, from £1,539, Heal’s. Hamilton chairs, from £274 for two, Next Home. Karma Red rug, from £149, Woven. Vintage birdcage, £145, Orchid.

Scandinavian sensibilities

Scandinavian sensibilities

White walls, wooden floorboards and simple furniture – so far, so Scandi. Taking the chill off this space by architect James Macdonald Wright is a wood-burning stove.If you want to keep your dining space toasty, start by calculating the right size and heat output needed for your space (many retailers have an online calculator to help).
Get the look Hans Wegner CH24 Wishbone chairs, from £442 each, Aram. For a similar stove, try Morsø 6143, £1,799.

First blush

First blush

Soft pink is swept across the walls and ceiling of this cosy alcove, designed by Nicole Dohmen, for a cocooning feel. Banquette seating takes up less space than dining chairs, which makes it a no-brainer for snug spots. ‘A solid timbertable will only get more characterful with age,’ notes Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf. Go for one central table leg, though, so it’s easy for guests to manoeuvre around and onto the bench. Get the look Walls in Calamine estate emulsion, £46.50 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. CH24 Wishbone chairs, from £442 each, Aram.

Dark arts

Dark arts

Trilbey Gordon has dialled up the drama by blending the elegance of the Thirties with the raw edginess of the Seventies. Her starting point was the brass-edged marble dining table, which ties in beautifully with the vintage chairs coveredin a navy velvet. This key colour is repeated on the rug and walls, drawing the eye effortlessly around the space.
Get the look Design by Trilbey Gordon Interiors. Vintage dining table, Willy Rizzo. Try 1stdibs for the Milo Baughman chairs and Seventies chandelier. Antilocarpa rug, Stark Carpet. Silk wallcovering, Phillip Jeffries.

heads up

heads up

Wow-factor wallpaper isa simple way to make a feature of your fifth wall (aka your ceiling), but why not take it further? Bring the wallpaper down onto your walls to lower the perceived height of a lofty ceiling and make the space feel cosier. When playing with a statement pattern, keep the rest of the room pared back so as not to overwhelm.
Get the look Zebra Palm wallpaper in Jungle, around £63 a roll, Schumacher at Turnell & Gigon. Ester chairs (with and without arms), from £1,060 each, Chaplins. Infinity dining table, £4,150, Porada.

on the panel

on the panel

Timber panelling painted black in the dining space makes a dramatic backdrop. Get the look The panelling is painted in Off-Black estate eggshell by Farrow & Ball. The dining table was bought at an antiques fair. The all-wood chair is vintage Ercol. Find the Eames DSW chair for Vitra at The Conran Shop.

natural beauty

natural beauty

Neutral colours and natural materials tie the house to its setting. Even the light above the dining table branches out like a twig. Get the look The dining table is vintage – find similar at auction houses. The Hoffmann chairs are by Design Within Reach. The Waldorf light is by Lambert & Fils. The vase and bowl are from Recreation Center. The pictures are from TRNK.

neutral textures

neutral textures

Smart budgeting was a high priority with this apartment. The designer went to a marble warehouse to buy slabs of stone and marble and turn them into tables, at half the price of some of the store versions. Get the look The marble table is bespoke. Wishbone chairs are by Hans Wegner. The pendant lights are from Buster + Punch.

greenhouse effect

greenhouse effect

The dining area combines contemporary lighting with vintage finds, alongside plenty of lush pot plants. Get the look The dining chairs are from Rockett St George. These are Smithfield Suspension pendants by Jasper Morrison for Flos.

gentle touch

gentle touch

A long dining table extends from the work surface, surrounded by Hans J Wegner chairs in uplifting sky blue. Paired with a wood dresser, the effect is like a designer take on dungarees – country style with a knowing edge. Get the look The cabinetry and dining table were designed by Ofist. For a similar kitchen, try John Lewis of Hungerford. Go to Benchmark for a large dining table like this. These are Wishbone chairs by Hans J Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn. The Non Random pendants are by Bertjan Pot for Moooi.

bold and beautiful

bold and beautiful

This house is anything but predictable; much of its dynamism stems from contrasts, whether brights against pale shades or traditional vs modern materials. Get the look The chairs were reupholstered in Butterfly Parade by Christian Lacroix for Designers Guild. The table is vintage. These are Jeeves and Wooster pendants by Jake Phipps for Innermost. The pink skull ornament is from Graham and Green.

buttoned banquette

buttoned banquette

With the lower back section of the house transformed with floor to ceiling glass, the dingy basement became a light-filled family gathering space. Get the LookThe table was custom-built with reclaimed oak from a French barn and positioned on a steel frame. The DSW Eames chairs are from a vintage dealer. The industrial lights were once part of Heathrow’s Concorde hanger and sourced from Trainspotters. Interior Designer, Graz Darken designed and commissioned the leather bench seating.

see the light

see the light

The key here was to create a calm, plain space and then add layers of texture to make each room feel different. The sliding doors open up the house to the garden, blurring the distinction between inside and out. Get the Look The kitchen to the left is Bulthaup cabinetry. The herringbone flooring is from Cheville Parquet.

monochrome mix

monochrome mix

This open plan dining area is the ideal place for dinner parties and entertaining. Get the look The dining table is bespoke. The Red chairs are from Stellar Works. The Hooked 3.0 lights are by Buster + Punch. The rug is from Linie Design.

cool and calm

cool and calm

The ground floor consists of sociable but separable living spaces, with light flowing through rooflights and a circular stairwell. Calm, considered and completed, textures are natural and there’s an air of serenity. Get the look The dining table is bespoke from Another Country. The bench with built-in drawers is by John Eger. The chairs are Longworth from Garden Trading. This is the Sebastian Cox kitchen by DeVOL.

wonderful wood

wonderful wood

This is a favourite spot for the owner's of this home. A carpenter make the table and the bench is constructed out of old floorboards. Get the look This is the CH24 Wishbone chair, left, and the CH36 dining chairs by Hans J Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn. Floors throughout are by Dinesen.

dark and decadent

dark and decadent

The hanging lights here are suitably exotic. They were made in the 1940s from parchment, and have been fitted with amber bulbs for a beautiful glow. Interior Decorator, Sera Hersham-Loftus has fitted blackout blinds to the window, as the apartment gets so bright. They have scalloped edges like in a Paris café. The vintage shutters to the side of the window actually conceal extra storage shelves. Get the look Table, Alfie’s Antiques Market. Chairs, Nivaldo de Lima. Walls painted in Off Black Estate Emulsion, Farrow & Ball.

glass act

glass act

This serene space is all part of an extension, but thanks to a skilful co-design between the interior architect and interior designer behind The Vada Collective, it feels more like a grand salon. The set of blush-pink dining chairs was an eBay find. Get the look Find similar pink chairs at My Furniture. The painting over the table is by Brian Nissen. The Glass doors were made by Maxlight.

colour splash

colour splash

Upholstered dining chairs and a smart rug soften the dining space next to the kitchen. Get the look The rug is by Jonathan Adler. The bar stools are eBay finds.