5 Contemporary Dining Room Ideas

What does it mean to evoke a mood in a space? If you’re a homeowner or a restaurant owner who’s setting up a new dining room, it’s important to have an answer to this most basic question. In interior design, mood is what keeps people coming back to the space. When you enter a room that’s decorated in a contemporary design, for example, it should evoke comfort and relaxation. A contemporary dining room should instantly feel spacious. There should be a visible lack of clutter, which is soothing to the mind, and clean lines. With an overall, neutral palette your eyes should be drawn to the most dramatic pieces in the room, whether that’s a piece of furniture, a piece of artwork, or another modern design element. 

As a designer, creating a contemporary home involves making use of blank space, and showing restraint when it’s time to add accessories. With a specific color scheme and plan in place, anyone can create a contemporary space of their dreams. If you’re interested in creating a contemporary dining room in your space, we have tons of ideas to share. 

What Is a Contemporary Dining Room?

What comes to mind when someone mentions contemporary dining room ideas? If you instantly envision large windows, bold colors, and furniture that is simple yet sophisticated, you’re on the right track. Contemporary style is minimalist and dramatic. It makes great use of space, light and neutral colors. There’s plenty of room to move about in a contemporary dining area, and there’s a distinct lack of frills and clutter. 

If you’re collecting contemporary or modern dining room design ideas for your next big home or commercial project, we suggest choosing your dining table set first, and building the rest of the room around it. The table is often the biggest piece of furniture in the dining space. Whether you choose a round table or rectangular table, it’s important to make sure the style you choose is simple and features clean lines and little-to-no decorative details. 

Contemporary Dining Room Ideas

The most important design rule when creating a contemporary look is to remember that less is more. Less art, more bare wall space. Fewer window coverings, more natural light. To the untrained mind, this may sound sterile and uninviting, but a well-decorated contemporary dining room is anything but unwelcoming. In fact, it’s quite relaxing to walk into a room that’s completely void of clutter. Your eyes are instantly drawn to the most dramatic pieces in the room. In this instance, that should be your dining table set. 

1. Large Lighting Fixtures

Dark wood rectangular dining table with grey upholstered chairs.

Light is vital for a contemporary space. But remember, less is more. One dramatic, significant light fixture should reign supreme in your dining space. Usually, this is centered over your dining table. Keep your light fixture simple, and opt for a single large piece, as opposed to a grouping of lights. Finding the perfect fit for your space is difficult. Choose one that features straight lines, instead of flowery, curvy details, and add a dimmer switch for relaxed, intimate dining. Good choices for showcasing your contemporary dining table include:

  • Flush-mounted fixtures
  • Large, single pendant lights
  • Orbs
  • Geometric fixtures, such as rectangles or squares
  • Light bars

Nix the showy chandeliers and candelabras if you’re trying to create a modern space and stick to lighting that features smooth metals with light or dark casings. 

2. Benches


Benches are always in style. But you’ll want to steer clear of anything too “shabby chic or “farmhouse” style. Metal benches, benches painted in black or white lacquer, and benches crafted of composite materials are good choices. Wood is fine, but the lines of the legs should be straight and clean without curves or other ornamental details. Padding or seat cushion is okay too, but the fabric used should not feature a bold pattern. Plain or neutral padding is best . Think of benches with lightly padded seats of tan or gray. 

If your contemporary dining room furniture features all dining chairs, consider switching several out for a bench. This will reduce the visible noise in the room, while still providing ample seating for family and guests to dine in comfort. 

3. Natural Light

Light wooden rectangular table with wooden and brown upholstered chairs.

Every space is made better through the addition of natural light. And in a contemporary dining room, you can bring in more natural light by uncovering your windows. If you’re planning a future renovation, make sure the dining room features plenty of glass to let in the light. Even rooms located in the center of the house or commercial building can benefit from natural light with the addition of solar tubes that tunnel through your attic space. If you have close neighbors, or your dining room windows open out onto a busy street, add an attractive window film that gives an added layer of privacy without blocking out the sun. Solar window films are also good options if your dining room receives too much blazing afternoon sunshine. This will help keep your furniture and flooring from fading in the sun. 

Or, if you simply can’t accept an uncovered window, consider using light window coverings such as sheers. Stay away from lace because it may detract from your room’s modern feel. You might even consider using plants to add privacy in front of a large window in your dining room. Select two or three large floor pots in lieu of lining small pots along the windowsills. 

4. Complementary Décor

Extended rectangular table and cream colored upholstered chairs.

The funny thing about contemporary decor is that a room decorated in this design tends to leave out the throw pillows, the table runners, and anything else that could be misconstrued as clutter. When decorating a dining room, complementary decor may mean things that feature complementary colors, which are those colors that reside opposite each other on the color wheel. It may also mean finding pieces such as a bench that pairs nicely with your dining table set or a wall color that goes well with the colors in your flooring.

Finding pieces that complement each other is part of what makes a room feel cohesive. Usually, that’s why we bring in elements such as wall art, rugs, vases, flowers, or throws. You can still add these design elements to a contemporary space, but you must be careful not to overdo it. Overdecorating will take your contemporary dining room from modern to mishmash in very little time. 

We suggest ideas such as adding a single, large piece of art to one wall, or an oversized geometric vase to the table. And always think of it as an either/or situation. You can either add the wall art or the table vase, whichever most pleases the eye. 

5. Choosing the Right Dining Table

Dark wood rectangular dining table with upholstered dark wood chairs.

The right contemporary dining table sets the mood for your entire space, so choose wisely. Opt for the largest table you can comfortably fit in your space. This will immediately bring the eye to that piece of furniture. Choose plain woods or metals, bold colors, straight legs, and lack of ornamentation. This is not the space to bring in a stately old Victorian dining table, consider a more timeless piece. And remember — your chairs should be just as simple as your table. Solid-backed chairs are ideal. But if your chairs aren’t solid, at least opt for ladder-back or wishbone chairs. Stay away from complicated designs and bright upholstery. But you should also keep comfort in mind. You’ll need a dining set that comfortably accommodates your family or clientele, too. 

Best Contemporary Dining Room Furniture

The best contemporary dining room furniture ideas have several features in common:

  • They’re comfortable.
  • They’re sized to fit your family or clientele.
  • They look nice in your space.
  • They feature clean, straight lines and smooth surfaces.
  • They complement the other pieces in the room.
  • They’re dramatic and appealing.

So, when you’re ready to begin shopping for your new contemporary dining room table and chairs, make sure you keep these features in mind. Knowing what you want beforehand will make choosing the best dining set much less complicated. Know what type of finish you want, how many chairs you need, how big the table needs to be, and what height you desire. In this way, you can eliminate dozens of dining room sets right out of the gate, saving you time and frustration as you shop. Simplicity is best, especially when you’re trying to create a dining space that’s both functional and attractive. 

Visit California Dining & Barstools for Contemporary Dining Pieces

If it’s time to bring your dated dining room into the 21st century, California Dining & Barstools has a variety of modern dining to choose from. Your dinner parties will reign superior in the eyes of your friends with our contemporary dining sets. Stop by one of our showrooms in Sunnyvale or Pleasant Hill today to see our grand selection of dining room sets, bistro tables, pub tables, and more. Whether you’re styling a formal dining room, a contemporary space, or a commercial business, we are sure to have items to help invoke the right mood. Stop by today or contact us to talk with one of our friendly and experienced sales consultants. We’ll help you find the dining room set of your dreams.