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Rethinking the Formal Dining Room with These Dining Room Combos


The formal dining room just might be the most under-utilized space in the home. So many traditional homes are built with them and then the majority of the time they sit empty except for the major holidays when you decide that instead of crowding around the kitchen island like thirsty animals at a watering hole you should pull out all the stops and make it a formal affair in the dining room. But, just because the name says “formal” doesn’t mean that it has to be. Your dining room can be an extension of your kitchen, living and family room even if it isn’t connected. Today we’ve pulled together 13 combos to bring a little bit of a refresh to that generally underused room. We are also officially making an international PSA to reclaim the dining room and enjoy it every single day (not just on those special days). We can’t promise that the food, the company or the conversation will be good but we can promise that the decor will be on point…. and you gotta start somewhere right?

All of these combos include a dining table, chairs, and some sort of storage piece (either a credenza or cabinet) which will allow you to store some of that “fancy” underused china in them until next holiday season. Which is a whole other conversation… maybe that is our next series? “Rethink Your Never-Used China.” Let’s get into it.

dining room ideas velvet chairs colorful white table wood credenza

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

If you saw our Parisian Art Deco series and were into those apartments and spaces then this one might be for you (as long as you aren’t afraid of color). This one is a commitment (due to the colors) but we want to be friends with whoever owns this dining room. We can only imagine the fun conversations that would take place in those chairs.

dining room combo green chair black bookcase wood round table

Cabinet | Dining Table Chair 

This combo is a little bit Pacific Northwest and a little bit industrial but we envision this in a modern woodsy house set deep into the forest or looking over the coast. Bonus points if you are wearing a plaid or buffalo check while dining at this setup.

dining room ideas modern table leather black chair affordable cabinet

Cabinet | Dining Table | Chair

We have this glass cabinet in our dining room and I can’t say enough good things about it. It looks so much more expensive than the $220 price tag (although it’s currently on sale for $165)  and the quality, style and design is so good. It also comes in a cream color if the grey isn’t your vibe.

dining room ideas modern farmhouse rustic wood table white credenza

Credenza | Dining TableChair

We went a little bit country on this one, but it could work well in a French Country home, a Traditional style home or even a more modern home that you were looking to bring some vintage and farmhouse vibes into. A farmhouse table and a windsor chair are always a winning combo in our book.

dining room ideas refined farmhouse black spindle chair wood credenza wood table

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

If that last one was more rustic farmhouse then this one leans more modern farmhouse. The shaker style table is something that will never go out of style and has classic enough lines to feel formal when needed or casual when it is just you and the family.

scandinavian dining room refined white and wood

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

We actually have this table in our office and we are all using them as our desks and we love them so much. They have held up so well over the last few years that we have had them and the wood on it is such good quality. We paired it with some simple pieces to get this Scandinavian Modern inspired combo.

dining room ideas glam gold glass table gold chair cork cabinet

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

This one is definitely not child-proof what with those sharp glass corners but if you are childless or if they are old enough to understand not to run into one of these corners then this 70’s glam inspired setup is sure to bring some swanky vibes into your place.

dining room ideas mid century modern white round talk black dining chair

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

If Mid-Century is your vibe then this classic combo is for you. A tulip table will always stand the test of time and the black chairs pull out the black in the credenza to pull the whole scheme together.

dining room ideas mid century modern green chair

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

Rattan and Citron are both having a major moment right now in design so we pulled together both of them in this combo. Although there are three different (yet similar) types of wood in this combo, it feels cohesive due to the shape of the legs all being squared off and similar in scale.

Emily Henderson Roundup Dining Room Combos Moodboard 6

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

Brass will always have a special place in our hearts, but this credenza takes it to a whole new level. This brass credenza set the tone for this Italian regency styled setup that is oozing with character.

dining room ideas wooden furniture tonal

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

It’s a lot of wood, but it also feels very refined and special with those angles and curves. We would put this in a white room with a lot of natural light to really let the wood tones stand out and be the focal point of the room.

dining room ideas white chair wood table minimal

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

This one is our budget-friendly version, but it still has a lot of style to it. White and wood will never go out of style.

dining room ideas regency pink chair white round table burl wood credenza

Credenza | Dining Table | Chair

If you aren’t afraid of some lucite, burlwood, and soft lilac chairs then this combo is for you. We can just imagine the poodle of the person who owns this house perched up on that lilac chair with zero cares in the world. Obviously fresh from the groomers.

So, which ones are your favorites from the collection? Let us know below and let us know what you would like us to round up next.

Fin Mark


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Super fun! In my heart, I am all glam and luxe villa…in my house, I am more PNW retreat…

Courtney Madden

So fun but…no round tables 🙁 We’re moving into a new house and we’re going to need a round table in the dining room. I’m feeling very uninspired, so I’d love to see some round table options!


There are several that have round tables. It’s actually about 50:50.


You must not have read the post?! There are 5 combos with round tables included in the post.


5/13 were round…


Uhhh the Colorful Parisian, Pacific Northwest, Madison Ave, Swedish Minimal, AND Modern Regency options in this post feature round tables…

🙂 I’m late to the comments today. Hopefully they helped, courtney! xx


AllModern has some awesome round tables options! I purchased mine here and I love it.


These are all great! I love the Simple Scandinavian Chalet type. The others all have something that I like, mostly chairs, but as a whole, the Scandinavian option is best. I can picture this in a fun, modern shed style house or even a modern craftsman. I typically prefer MCM myself, but this MCM roundup is not my favorite and a little too much. Great job on these! Thank you for reminding us that the dining room isn’t dead yet.


i LOVE when you guys do these combos…it really helps pull together something stylish DIY-style! lol i just bought a condo and would love to see more combos…i know you have one for the half bath but what about full bath? my bath has no windows so it’s been a struggle since everything looks so much better w/ natural light. budget friendly ?? maybe some more kitchen/chair (not formal) combos too? Thank you so much!!!

Thanks for the suggestion! And a lot of the half bath combos could be added to in order to create a full bath setup. Good luck with your new condo. xx


OK, I’ll be the one to say they like the Parisian Pied-a-Terre. Someone has to like the bold colors.

Emily K

It’s my favorite too

Loveley Bonann

i’m totally with you on that one!


we just recently switched our sunroom and dining room — what was once our dining room (in the middle of our home, with the entryway and a door to the bedroom) is now a sitting room with lots of plants, daybed style couch, chair, and coffee table. we had to leave the sideboard in place in the former dining room, but it functions nicely as a display for more plants and “objets.” our sunroom connects to a walk-out deck and is also open to the living room and i wanted all of the entertaining areas connected. we now spend more time in the sitting room/former dining room, and have a nice place to have a bite and get a better breeze and view! my husband was super against this scheme that i dreamt up, but surprised me by making the switch while i was at work one day. yay!


Hahahaha! Awesome husband! 😉


I love when you pull together these full combo looks! Makes the selection process so much easier and I love how different all of these are. I want that brass credenza… although it is way to big for my current place. Thanks for sharing all of these.


Love these! I’m definitely pro formal dining room because I think they can be multi-use. I love Italian Luxe Villa.

My dream home would have a very large formal dining room, but it would double as my library and have built in bookcases on three walls. The fourth wall would also have storage for me to house craft supplies and that way it could triple as a craft room because my large projects generally end up on the dining room table anyway.

This sounds like a dream! xx


You guys totally get me. As soon as I begin thinking about a different part of my house, y’all are right there with an awesome post about it. Sigh. The formal dining and living areas are tough. I have two small kids and am trying to figure out how to make the spaces do double duty as additional living areas and a space for them to play without it looking like a bomb went off. Not sure if it’s possible, but this post gives me hope.


I love some of these but I’m wondering what will work in a little 1920s Spanish-style house? We are just signing a lease for one and moving in April (from an apartment where there is no dining room to speak of, so we have to start from scratch!)

Depending on the rest of your decor and the shape of your space you could go with a more modern and simple table surrounded by some vintage chairs that really make the space feel lived in and unique – which will also echo the character of the older home. Good luck with the move! xx


I love your round ups, this one is delightful! So many good ideas.

I would like to request a round up of interior doors and door trim, along with baseboards. I seem to hate all interior trim options. I mean, if you have a craftsman or victorian, it works, but in most houses built after 1950, the trim is boring and cheap looking. What are some options for modern looking trim and doors? My favorite seems to be no trim, but that seems to only work in high quality architecture, not your standard middle class house. Pretty please? 🙂

We did a few posts on how to add character to a home, which also touches on different types of moldings and styles. Unfortunately a lot of that type of product is in person at a showroom or specialty lumber store, but this post has quite a few inspiration images so it might help you out a bit.


Yes, thank you. Good stuff!!!


All of these are inviting! In my dreams I have a house somewhere in Scandinavian Upstate Paris.

Could you do a side/accent/coffee table roundup? Currently trying to bring together a clean and modern living room using a vintage velvet couch set. Not easy for a newbie like me!

Thanks for the suggestion. That sounds like a fun one to tackle 🙂


Where’s the Victorian? 🙂

We’ve got lots more victorian coming up very soon on the blog! Don’t worry 😉


The colorful parisian has my heart!!

Some other roundups I’d love to see…
-Round/oval extension tables (why does nobody make these kind of tables?)
-Playroom combos (ie comfy indestructible seating, toy storage, play piece like a kitchen or table)
-Home office with plenty CLOSED storage – so many inspiration home offices have no closed storage! Where do people hide their printer/files/junk/etc??? We’ve been contemplating builtins but know we wont be in our home forever so would love to find some storage pieces that could ultimately move with us. I cant be alone?

Thanks for the suggestions. We will definitely have to add a few of them to the list. xx


YES! Round/oval extension tables, please!!!!!


Oval extension tables are definitely hard to find. I bought this one last year and I love it! It looks so incredible when fully extended.


These are great combos, but unless one’s home is any of the above types of architecture, the arrangements are going to look out of place. I feel that the blog content has drifted to favor anything and everything EXCEPT the types of homes most readers are likely to live in. I’m not speaking for all readers, clearly; that said, if you do the math on it being 2018, I’ll wager that most readers live in homes built in 1980 or later. I can’t remember a recent post that’s would work with a recent builder grade home. Is this a style blog or is it a Demo&Reno focus blog? Everything is always beautiful in every possible way but it’s feeling more and more out of touch.


I completely disagree with your comment. I think a lot of these could work in any number of different style homes! Check out the blog ChrisLovesJulia, in which they renovate/decorate a pretty boring 80’s home with a TON of character. They lean modern/PNW/farmhouse-ish.


I think it depends on where you are in the US, and in what neighborhood you live — plus additional other demographics for Emily’s readers in other countries. I, for instance, live in WV (in the steel belt, within the swath of cities such as Pittsburgh and Columbus), and we don’t have a ton of recent builds around here. Most houses here are turn-of-the-century to maybe the 50s (mine is a 1909 Craftsman). But I imagine that most homes have some kind of discernable architecture that can be tapped into decor-wise, even those built in the 80s and later; like for instance: it might lean more modern, or more traditional. (And I think in those houses that might feel more generic in design, you have a unique opportunity to inject your own design vision, unimpeded by previous architectural constraints (like what Emily is doing with her mountain home).) All that said, I don’t feel like there are many hard-and-fast rules to design — more like guidelines — and mostly, you should just do what makes you happy. So if you happen to love one of the above combos, go for it! Blogs like this are great for educating yourself and… Read more »


If I’ve learned anything from Emily, it is that every space can be infused with a unique and personal style. I can see plenty of these styles working in a standard suburban single family home. The point is to be less generic and more adventurous. Just because you have a suburban home, you don’t have to sacrifice an edgier or more forward-thinking design style. If folks want to see something with more mass appeal, visit any major furniture retailer in the country. I’m sure Raymour & Flanagan will have plenty of ideas.


From a stylistic standpoint, these are lovely dining room combos but what I would really like to see is an emphasis on dining room furnishings that function to facilitate multiple uses. Most of the credenzas are a bit light on storage and cable management if they need to accommodate printers, scanners and other home office essentials or crafting, sewing or homework supplies or kitchen appliances and overflow pantry storage. I don’t see anything innovative in the way of seating – say chairs or even a settee, loveseat or cushioned bench, comfy enough to be placed near the window for a reading nook but that can be pulled up and function for seating at the dining table. And for the dining table itself, I don’t see a lot of options that can readily extend or fold up to clear floor space for a play area or yoga space.
Of course, the specifics would depend on what functions the room will serve but I don’t see a ton of imagination offered in these choices.


Great round up. Our kitchen is large enough o have a 4 seat table as an “eat in kitchen” but our dining room is literally on the other side of the wall less than a foot away. We ditched the eat in table and opened up the wall between the kitchen and dining room. I didn’t see the point of having to eating tables so clsoe to each other. We’ve added a couple extra cabinets to the kitchen and now the dining room gets used and we gain extra storage in the kitchen.

We ended up going with a white Marble Saarinen (replica) Oval table and 6 orange Saarinen (replica) executive arm less chairs and the white orange combo with our teak furniture is perfect!


*sigh* sorry my case of the Mondays caused horrible grammar and spelling mistakes in that last post


Could you do a “kitchen island” roundup, with bar stool/pendant light combos? Pretty please?


Yes! I love the lighting round-ups but always feel like it’s missing something. Ie – the sconces and chandeliers was great but doesn’t necessarily apply to a kitchen/kitchen island.


Love the Italian Luxe Villa! More of this look please!!


Oooh, I am so down for that 70’s glam look!


Can I mix and match the Italian luxe villa dining set with a mid century open shelf wooden credenza with iron legs? I would have to pick a neutral color chair I guess.


Love both the Pacific Northwest retreat and the Urban Loft.


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