By Anna Kocharian and Laura Serino

Published on June 21, 2018

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Photography by LAURE JOLIET

Whether it’s where you eat every family meal or simply reserved for the holiday season, the dining room holds a special place in our homes. Once an off-limits sort of space, it has with time, become more a practical and accessible area of the home. Whether you find yourself in a tiny studio sans a semblance of one or are blessed with enough square footage to actually carve out room for an actual dining set, there are a handful of decorative essentials each one deserves. Ahead, a must-have list of the items no dining room should be without. 

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Photography by Victoria Pearson © 2018. Images reprinted from Nathan Turner’s I Love California. © 2018 by Nathan Turner. Published in April 2018 by Abrams. 

Table Linens

Food always feels fancier when it’s served atop a beautiful tablecloth. Plates always appear prettier when they’re on placemats. And you know what’s classier than a paper napkin in your lap? A cloth one.

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Photography by AARON DYER

Servingware

Serve up something special and display it on your most prized platters and plates. To cover all your bases, have a cake stand for desserts and a great multi-purpose serving dish to hold everything from side dishes to cheese and crackers. Make sure guests aren’t left empty-handed when it’s time to toast the hostess! Though it’s hard to have glasses for every type of drink, we recommend keeping styles that serve your drink of choice—wine, highballs, pint—you get the idea.

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Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

A Centerpiece

For when your dining table isn’t in use, a centerpiece that comes in the form of a decorative accent is highly encouraged. Think chic bowls or idyllic fruit arrangements – fresh flowers are also a no-brainer. 

Nothing is more romantic than dining under a soft glow. We love elegant tapers on the table or a bunch of tea lights in a row. For more drama, opt for hurricanes or holders in unique shapes. Just remember to keep scented ones unlit when you’re eating.

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Photography by Laure Joliet

Chandelier

When we say “chandelier”, we don’t necessarily mean an ornate crystal one fit for Marie-Antoinette. Instead, consider it the focal light fixture in your space. A beautiful single pendant or an extravagant cluster of lights top our list, just choose one that makes you light up when you see it.

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Photography by LAURE JOLIET

Wallpaper or Paint

Creating a warm and inviting ambiance begins with the walls. Unless you’re going for the whitewashed minimalist look, it’s important to bring a little color to your dining space, preferably with an intricate wallpaper or bright paint.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Mirror

If your space is boxy or you simply want it to feel bigger, mirrors add instant depth and light into a room. Before you hang, move your mirror around on each wall so you can pick your favorite view to reflect. Don’t be afraid to experiment with shapes and multiples!

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Photography by JEREMY LIEBMAN

Art

Whether you’ve earmarked them for the walls or are simply opting for a casual stack against the wall, a colorful print can really go the distance when it comes to the decor of a room. 

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Photography by MATT ALBIANI

Bar Cart

A party isn’t complete sans some spirits, and a well-stocked bar cart—or tray, for the small-space dwellers—should go without saying. Don’t interrupt dinner with a mad dash to the fridge. Have an ice bucket chilled and on hand to keep everything from champagne to juice boxes perfectly chilled. 

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Console Table

It doesn’t matter how spacious your dining table is, you always need room for overflow. A well-positioned console table is the perfect perch for extra platters of food. When not in use, display your favorite dishes or a few household plants.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Plants

Greenery goes a long way in the dining room. If you’re short on space, find a tall plant stand to keep some succulents in a corner. Still working on that green thumb? Start with air planters on the wall or in a hanging vessel.

This story was originally published on April 11, 2017, it has been updated with new information.

Read on for more inspiring homes and spaces:

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